Hainanese Chicken Rice
Hainanese Chicken Rice
Almost every country in Asia with a history of Chinese immigrants has their own version of chicken rice. Chicken rice originated in Hainan province in China during the Chin Dynasty. It was one of the four main Hainan dishes along, with Jiaji duck, Dongsan goat and Hele crab, and remains the most popular, especially in Southeast Asia. When the Chinese started migrating to different countries in South East Asia in the 19th century, they brought their own culture and cuisine into the community. Over time, with local ingredients they created their own unique flavor.

Sometimes fusion food gets a bad rep as foodie-types tend to try to find the most “authentic” dishes. But I’ve often found that some of the most delicious meals are influenced by a number of different cultures. Not only is the flavor more rich and complex, but we are also eating a piece of history. A history that was molded and changed over time.

If you’ve ever looked at recipes for Hainanese chicken rice, you may find it confusing because the sauce varies from recipe to recipe. That’s because each country has their own sauces and condiments to go with it. For instance, in the past, I’ve shared recipes for Taiwanese chicken (turkey) rice, Vietnamese chicken rice and Thai chicken rice. But all of them are in some way derived from Hainan chicken rice.

But the most well known Hainanese chicken rice is actually the Singapore version, which is the recipe I’m sharing this week. It’s served with two sauces — the ginger and scallion oil and the sweet and spicy soy sauce. And because this is how we serve it in Taiwan, this may actually add on an extra layer of fusion adapted for the Taiwanese palate. Nevertheless, it’s unique and delicious.

Ingredients:

Serves 4 people
4 chicken thighs with bone and skin on
112 cup jasmine rice
312 cup water
3 scallions
5 slices of ginger
4 cloves of garlic
12 shallot
1 tsp. salt
14 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce
14 tsp. chicken stock paste or 14 bouillon cube
For the ginger and scallion oil
3 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. chicken stock (from cooking the chicken thighs)
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
3 scallions
12 shallot
14 tsp. sesame oil
14 tsp. salt
14 tsp. white pepper
For the sweet and spicy soy sauce
1 small hot pepper
12 tsp. minced garlic
12 tsp. minced ginger
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
112 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. chicken stock (from cooking the chicken thighs)

Directions:

Start by cleaning and washing the chicken thighs. In a large pot, poach the chicken thighs for 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until the chicken is no longer warm. This will give the chicken its signature springy texture (photo 1).

Place the chicken back into the pot along with 312 cups water, 2 scallions, 4 slices of ginger, 2 gloves of garlic, 1 tsp. salt, 14 tsp. sugar, 2 tsp. soy sauce and 14 tsp. chicken stock paste or 14 bouillon cube. Let it come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes (photo 2).

Meanwhile prepare the rice. Wash and rinse the rice two to three times until it’s no longer starchy. Then soak it in cold water. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and 12 shallot and set them aside while we wait for the chicken to be cooked. Once the chicken is done, drain it while saving all the stock. Brush the chicken with some sesame oil so the skin doesn’t dry out. Traditionally, at this point we will soak the chicken in ice water, which intensifies the firm and springy texture of the skin. But I’m not a big fan of the jelly-like chicken texture, so I usually skip this step. However, if you would like to honor the tradition, soak the chicken in ice water until it’s ready to serve. And yes, the chicken really is served cold.

In a large skillet heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil and cook the minced garlic and shallots for one minute until you smell the aromatics. Drain the rice well, toss it in the skillet and stir fry it with the garlic and shallots for two minutes (photo 3). Remove from heat and transfer the rice into the pot we’ve cooked the chicken in along with 3 cups of the reserved chicken stock, 1 slice of ginger and 1 scallion. Let it come to a boil and turn the heat down to low. Let it gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (photo 4).

While we are waiting for the rice to be cooked, we can prepare the two sauces. To make the ginger and scallion oil, heat 3 Tbsp. canola oil along with 1 Tbsp. minced ginger and half a shallot in a small saucepan. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat and stir in 3 finely chopped scallions, 14 tsp. sesame oil, 14 tsp. salt, 14 tsp. white pepper and 3 Tbsp. chicken stock reserved from cooking the chicken. Set it aside and let it cool (photos 5 & 6).

For the sweet and spicy soy sauce, slice up one small hot pepper. Mince 12 tsp. of both garlic and ginger. Mix the hot pepper, garlic and ginger with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 112 Tbsp. sugar and 3 Tbsp. chicken stock reserved from cooking the chicken (photo 7).

Once the rice is cooked, Remove from heat, fluff it with a fork and cover. Let it sit for five minutes before serving (photo 8).

To serve, chop the chicken into large strips with the bones on. Place it onto the rice, drizzle a little ginger and scallion oil on top and serve it with the two sauces on the side. You may dip the chicken in the sauce or just pour both sauces right on top of the chicken and rice.