Sunday, 26 March 2017

Hainanese Chicken Rice Meal 海南鸡饭餐



I think many would agree that Hainanese Chicken Rice 海南鸡饭 is almost like a national dish of Singapore. We see them, breathe them, eat them and enjoy them from heartlands to 5-star hotels. Many of us would be able to tell at first sight and first bite - whether the dish meets our high expectations. Be it home cooked or those served in hawker centres, coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. 

The chicken selection process determines largely whether the meat would be nice and tender. In my family, we would only use Kampong Chicken (free range chicken) for making Hainanese Chicken Rice 海南鸡饭. The more yellowish the chicken skin, the better! 黄油鸡 or the "yellowish skin chicken" almost guarantee juicy and succulent meat when cooked.

The traditional way of preparing 
Hainanese Chicken Rice 海南鸡饭 is using the poaching method. As we get busier with other things in life and as kitchen appliances advances, we now have more viable methods to prepare the dish. I have listed 3 methods in this post. Namely, the poaching method, the steaming method and the sous vide method

I have attempted all 3 and each has its pros and cons. If you are particular about achieving smooth chicken skin, go for the poaching method. If you want a more fuss free method, go for steaming. If you want absolutely tender and juicy chicken meat, you cannot go wrong with  the sous vide method.

The essential elements of a tasty Hainanese Chicken Rice Meal 海南鸡饭餐 include the chicken, the soup, the rice and the condiments. The absence of any element would make the meal incomplete! And the experience would not be so fulfilling.


The Chicken 

Ingredients :
  • 1 kampong/free range chicken (I used a 1.5 kg in my photos)
  • 8 slices ginger (pressed)
  • 8 cloves garlic (peeled and pressed)
  • 2 stalks spring onion 
  • salt (to taste)
  • sesame oil (to taste)
  • water

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Methods (I have tried all 3 methods. I was using the Sous Vide Method in my photos) :
  1. Rub a little salt on surface of chicken to remove impurities on skin.
  2. Wash and clean chicken and pat dry.
  3. Pre-marinate chicken beforehand by rubbing sea salt on the surface and the cavity.
Poached Chicken Method 水煮白斩鸡
  1. Use a deep pot to boil enough water to soak in the whole chicken. Toss in some ginger slices, garlic cloves and spring onions to boil as well.
  2. Turn off fire when water is boiled. Immediately dip chicken into hot water (let entire chicken soak in).Poach chicken in hot water for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  4. When ready, remove chicken from pot and immediately dip it into ice water bowl.
  5. Turn on fire again. Dip chicken back into hot water (let entire chicken soak in).
  6. Poach chicken for 20-25 minutes (depending on size of chicken, the smaller size, the shorter time needed) until chicken is 90% cooked.
  7. When chicken is 90% cooked, remove chicken from pot and immediately dip into ice water bowl for ice bath again. Let it stay for 10 minutes.   
  8. Remove chicken from ice bath. Allow chicken to rest on plate for 30 minutes to 1 hour before chopping and serve with dressing (dressing is a mixture of light soy sauce and sesame oil). 
Steamed Chicken Method 蒸煮白斩鸡
  1. Insert ginger slices, garlic cloves and spring onions into chicken carcass/cavity.
  2. Steam chicken for 20-30 minutes (depending on size of chicken) till 90% cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  4. Remove chicken from pot and dip into ice water for ice bath for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken from ice bath. Allow chicken to rest on plate for 30 minutes to 1 hour before chopping and serve with dressing (dressing is a mixture of light soy sauce and sesame oil).
Sous Vide Chicken Method
  1. Insert ginger slices, garlic cloves and spring onions into vacuum bag together with chicken. 
  2. Add a few drops of sesame oil into the bag. 
  3. Vacuum seal bag(s).
  4. Cook in sous vide at 68C or 155F for 2.5 hours or 90% cooked.
  5. Remove chicken from sous vide water oven. 
  6. Remove chicken from sealed bag and allow to rest on plate for 30 minutes to 1 hour before chopping and serve with dressing (dressing is a mixture of light soy sauce and sesame oil).




The Chicken Soup/Stock

Ingredients :
  • Chicken feet, neck and other chicken parts that you do not want to serve
  • 2 thumb sized ginger 
  • 5 cloves garlic 
  • 2 stalks spring onion (for fragrance and garnish)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 chicken stock cube
  • sesame oil (to taste)
  • water

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Methods : 
  1. At medium heat, quick stir fry aromatics (ginger slices, garlic) in pot with a little cooking oil and chicken fat.
  2. Toss in chicken bone/parts for a quick stir fry.
  3. Add water and chicken stock cube into pot and allow it to boil.
  4. Upon reaching boiling point, turn to low-medium heat and simmer for minimum 1 hour.
  5. Add salt (to taste), chopped spring onions and few drops of sesame oil before serve. 





The Chicken Rice

Ingredients :
  • Rice grains (enough for your family/guests)
  • Chicken fat 
  • 4 to 5 slices ginger 
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 1 onion
  • 5 pandan leaves (tied in a knot)
  • Chicken stock/soup (to replace water for steaming rice)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • sesame oil (to taste)

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Methods : 
  1. Wash and drain rice grains.
  2. Add a little cooking oil, sesame oil and chicken fat to stir fry for few minutes until the chicken fat renders and fragrance emits. 
  3. Toss in ginger slices and garlic and quick stir fry till aromatic.
  4. Fold in rice grains for a quick stir fry until the grains turn translucent. This would mean the rice grains are soaking up the aromas from the chicken fat and aromatics.
  5. Transfer rice and aromatics to rice cooker.
  6. Instead of using water to cook rice in rice cooker, replace water with the chicken stock/soup that were prepared earlier. 
  7. Add pandan leaves and a little salt (to taste) into rice cooker. 
  8. Cook rice as per your rice cooker’s instructions.
  9. When rice is fully cooked, give the rice a thorough stir to ensure the fragrance are evenly infused.
  10. Serve whilst hot.










The Ginger Dip

Ingredients :
  • 1 pc half-palm size ginger
  • 3 stalks spring onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 shallots (finely chopped)(optional)
  • 3 to 4 tbsp cooking oil
  •  salt (or to taste)
  • sesame oil (to taste)

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Methods : 
  1. Peel ginger and grate.
  2. Finely chop spring onions. 
  3. Combine grated ginger and finely chopped spring onions into a bowl.
  4. Boil 3-4 tbsp cooking oil in pan/pot (I used oil from deep frying my onions).
  5. Pour hot boiled oil onto bowl that contains ginger and spring onions. You should hear a sizzling sound when pouring the oil. Be careful of splattering oil.
  6. Allow to cool down, add a little sesame oil and salt (to taste). Serve as ginger dip for chicken.






The Chili Sauce

Blend the following ingredients and seasonings together and serve :
  • 4-5 finger long red chilies (deseed)
  • 2 bird eye chilies/chili padi (no need deseed)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 5 thin slices ginger
  • 4 tbsp chicken soup/stock
  •  ½ tsp vinegar
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Other Sides :
  • Cucumber (sliced)
  • Coriander (for garnish and fragrance)
  • Tomatoes (sliced)


This Hainanese Chicken Rice 海南鸡饭 meal was definitely enjoyable and fulfilling for my family. The fragrance emitted from the chicken and rice, plus the pairings of condiments were simply mouthwatering!


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