Although many would suggest steaming or boiling the chicken conventionally (taking the easy way out), I wanted to achieve the same type of meat and skin texture consistency as the ones sold in proper chicken rice stalls; and that my dear friends, takes a lot of time and effort. Cooking proper Hainanese chicken rice is a painstaking process, and if it's not perfect on your first try, don't feel so bad. Practise makes perfect, and the trick is to always trust your tongue. Following a recipe to the tee may not necessarily mean you'll end up serving the perfect dish, but trusting your tongue and instincts in the process will deliver you a meal with soul.
Have fun and let me know how your turns out ya!
- 1 whole chicken, cleaned; access fat trimmed and reserved
- 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, pounded
- 4 inch ginger, sliced
- 2 whole spring onions
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of salt
Rub ½ tablespoon of salt evenly all over the chicken (on the outside).
Combine the balance ½ tablespoon of salt and 1½ tablespoons of light soy sauce and rub the inside of the chicken thoroughly. Pound (or blend with good processor) the garlic. Stuff the inside of the chicken with the pounded garlic, half the ginger and half the spring onion (you can choose to pound the ginger and spring onions into a paste as well – it makes a difference in taste when you rub it inside the chicken, but you may have to deal with green color remnants of the stuffing under the carcass).
Now comes the tedious part. Bring a large pot of water to the boil (not too much, the level of the water should just cover the chicken by an extra 2 inches max), then add the remaining ginger and spring onion to the boiling water. After 2 minutes, turn off the heat and gently put the chicken in. Some of the stuffing may fall out but it’s okay. ;-) Cover with a lid and leave to stand in the water for 1 hour. After the first 5 minutes, gently lift the chicken out with 2 flat spatulas into a large strainer to drain the water from its cavity, then return to the water. Repeat 2 or 3 times during the hour (this ensures that there’s enough hot water inside the chicken to cook it through). Be very gentle because the chicken skin is tender and will tear (I tried using thongs for this process the first time round, and it ended up looking like an abused chicken; bad for food presentation. ). After 30 minutes, bring the water back to almost boiling then turn the heat off again. Cooking the chicken without boiling it keeps it tender and juicy.
Check for doneness of your chicken by sticking a chopstick into the flesh under the leg and see if the juices run clear or insert a cooking thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It should read 170F.
Gently remove the chicken from the water (do not throw away this poaching broth) and plunge into a bath of iced water (it should have enough water to submerge the entire chicken). Doing this will stop the cooking process immediately and tighten the chicken skin, making it springy and firm.
Remove the stuffing and if you’re a perfectionist like me, you can opt to gently rinse in a second ice water bath to make sure your chicken looks “clean”.
Combine the remaining 1½ tablespoons of light soy sauce with the sesame oil and rub into the chicken (on the outside). Leave to cool before carving into serving sizes and set aside.
- Leftover poaching broth
- chicken carcass/legs/wings
- 1 slice of ginger
- 2 spring onions
- 1 tablespoon of mirin (optional)
- salt and white pepper to taste
For the stock/soup, add the chicken carcasses/legs/wings, ginger and spring onions to the pot of leftover poaching broth and boil on low hear for another 1 hour (or 2, if you’re really patient). Add mirin (optional), salt and white pepper to taste. Strain the stock and serve in small soup bowls. Pour hot stock over chicken and drain (optional, if you don’t want to serve “cold” chicken), then drizzle with chicken soy sauce before serving.
- reserved chicken fat
- 1 inch ginger, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 big onion, halved
- 3 cups of long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 4 pandan leaves, tied in a knot
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 3 ½ cups of your reserved poaching broth
Heat the chicken fat in a non-stick wok until it releases oil, then add the ginger and garlic and fry until golden (be careful not to over-fry and burn otherwise you’ll end up with bitter-tasting chicken rice). Discard any solid pieces of fat. Add the rice and salt and stir-fry briskly for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the rice to a rice cooker and add 3½ cups of chicken stock, the pandan leaves and onion (be careful that your onion doesn’t disintegrate). Don’t wash the wok (use to prepare the chicken soy sauce later). Stir occasionally (optional). You may need to add a little more stock towards the end if the rice seems dry. When the rice is almost cooked, mix the olive oil evenly into the rice to separate the grains and give it a nice glow.
- 9 long red chilies, seeds removed and roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- 2 tablespoons of stock
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Pound the chilli, garlic and ginger into a paste (or blend in a food processor). Add the chicken stock, lime juice, sugar and salt to taste.
- 75g ginger, roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon of stock
- ½ tablespoon of lime juice
- ½ teaspoon of salt
Pound the ginger and garlic into a paste (or blend in a food processor). Add the chicken stock, lime juice and salt to taste.
Chicken soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon of sesame oil (whichever you prefer)
- 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons of stock
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
Combine all the ingredients and heat in the same pan in which you prepared the rice in earlier. You may choose to add in more sugar/soy sauce based on your taste preference. Pour over chicken before serving
- sliced spring onions
- kicap manis
- sliced cucumber
- blanced beansprouts drizzled with sesame oil and chicken soy sauce