Tuesday, August 28, 2012


One of the first meals I got addicted to in China is Hainanese Chicken Rice. In fact, when I lived in Nanjing back in 2009, I ate it almost everyday for an entire year! It is just an incredibly savory, fragrant and hearty dish. It is also healthier than most dishes because the chicken is boiled in its own stock (unlike less healthy methods such as frying). The dish is said to originate from the Chinese island province of Hainan (thus its name). Although a staple dish all over China, Hainanese Chicken Rice has now become a standard in Singapore and is also popular and commonly found around Thailand, Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Hainanese Chicken Rice at Crowne Plaza Hefei
In Singapore, it is customary to boil the chicken in water flavored with garlic and ginger (very heart healthy!) and to prepare the rice with the leftover stock. This gives the rice its unique and fragrant flavor. Hainanese Chicken rice is usually served with three dips of chili sauce, pounded ginger and oyster sauce or dark soy sauce to add to the taste and flavor.

Here’s a Hainanese Chicken Rice recipe that’s perfect for lunch or dinners at home:
(taken from www.saveur.com(SERVES 4)

1  3-lb. chicken
1 small piece ginger, peeled and crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 scallion, tied in a knot

1 1⁄2 cups jasmine or other long-grain rice
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
Coriander leaves

1. For the chicken and stock: Wash chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt inside and out. Tuck ginger, garlic, and scallion into cavity of chicken, then tie legs together with kitchen string.

2. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Completely submerge chicken, breast-side-down. Bring to a boil again, cover pot, and turn heat down to very low. Simmer 30 minutes, turning chicken once and skimming any foam from stock. Remove chicken and set aside to cool; reserve stock, keeping it warm. Remove chicken skin; pull meat from bones and cut into thick slices.

3. For the rice: Wash rice in a large bowl of cold water and drain. Repeat process until water is almost clear. Drain in colander and shake to remove as much remaining water as you can.

4. Heat oil in a wok or medium skillet over high heat. Add shallots and garlic, and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add rice and stir-fry 1–2 minutes more. Pour in 3 cups chicken stock; season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover and reduce heat to very low. Cook 20 minutes. Stir, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve each person separate bowls of rice, chicken, and stock. Garnish with cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and coriander leaves. Serve with soy sauce, ginger sauce and chili sauce.