Monday, September 1, 2008

Hainanese Chicken Rice

I had come across numerous recipes for Hainanese Chicken Rice, touted by Wikipedia as a national dish of Singapore, also very popular in Malaysia, and originally from the Hainan province of China.

Having absolutely no clue what I was doing, I followed Chubby Hubby's recipe, except for the rice. The chicken, poached in water but never allowed to boil, turned out moist and tender. The chillie and ginger sambal was a winner, made with serranos from my garden.

The rice, however, I wasn't too impressed with. I used a shortcut, Hangchong Hainanese Chicken Rice Mix, that I got from AsianSupermarket365. I used my jasmine rice, which is supposedly the same thing as the Thai fragrant rice called for on the jar, and it cooked up okay, but I just didn't dig too much on the texture. The rice had an almost slimy-mushy coating of what tasted and felt like chicken fat (the ingredients of the mix include soybean oil and chicken powder). Maybe I should have followed Chubby Hubby's recipe for the rice, but I don't know what a pandanus leaf looks like, let alone where to find one.

That being's how I served it: Put a mound of rice in a bowl, pour some broth (from poaching the chicken) around the rice, sprinkle with sliced green onion, and top with some poached chicken slices. Serve with dishes of soy sauce and chilli ginger sambal on the side, along with diced cucumbers.

I would have loved to have a picture of the finished dish - but there's no way in hell I could get a decent picture of white rice and white chicken in a red bowl to turn out.

When the rice was mixed into the broth, it lost some of the texture that I found unpleasant. The soy sauce and sambal livened up the deliberately mild-flavored chicken. All in all, I was pleased with the dish, but I wouldn't go through all the work again. Chubby Hubby's recipe uses a 1kg (2.2lb) chicken - I couldn't find a chicken under 4 lbs to save my life! Granted, it was a sustainably raised, antibiotic free chicken on sale for 77 cents a pound, but that sucker weighed 4.64 pounds! So instead of poaching for a hour, it was more like 2 hours, having to reheat more than once. I'm sure if there were such a thing as a decent-sized chicken around here, I could've done it in a hour.

Then there was the whole carving-the-chicken thing, something which, to be blunt, I suck at.

So I guess what it comes down to is: try this dish if you make the rice from scratch, have a small chicken, and don't suck at carving.


kat said...

that rice certainly does sound weird, i'll stay away from that sauce, thanks

Vicki said...

Hi Kat -
Good choice :)