Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hainanese chicken rice

Ages ago, W. travelled to Manila to work on a project. A Chinese guy he worked with took him to dinner at a Chinese restaurant and ordered an Asian feast in his honour. During dinner, the man told him his all-time favourite dish was chicken and rice. Pressed for more information, he said the chicken was just boiled in water. I found that really strange when he related this, but why not, after all chicken is comfort food all over the world, and rice is Asia's number one staple. But simple boiled chicken as a favourite dish?

Now I understand the concept, this man had probably never cooked it for himself so how could he know that water wasn't just water but had the added components of herbs and condiments to improve it? And that you need other seasonings and relishes to really make the humble poached chicken shine?

Hainanese chicken rice

I was inspired by food-loving friends to try this recipe, which had caught my eye ever since I got Bill's Every Day Asian book. It is very simple although it does take a little time and monitoring. I was really surprised at how the chicken was perfectly cooked despite the little time on the actual heat.

The absolute star of the recipe is the ginger relish. And I used my beloved sambal instead of slicing fresh chillies.
Poaching is a good way to bring out the flavour of the chicken meat, and with the resulting stock you then cook the rice (I made it in my rice cooker). My girls ate the chicken with just rice and soy sauce and asked for seconds. For dinner there'll be alphabet soup, sadly just our alphabet and no Chinese characters ;)

You will find the recipe online here on another blog. I'm pretty sure there are more traditional recipes with a longer list of ingredients but this Bill Granger version is delicious enough.

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