Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of Chinese origin, and is most commonly associated with Hainanese, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines. Simply put, the chicken is prepared in traditional Hainanese methods which involves steeping the entire chicken at sub-boiling temperatures in a chicken bone stock.
The chicken is eventually served cold, with a bowl of the hot chicken stock and a number of condiments and wonderfully aromatic rice prepared with the chicken stock.
So…to start get your whole chicken and wash it thoroughly, inside and out. Sprinkle liberally with salt, and massage into the skin to open the pores and remove any impurities. Massage gently as you don’t want to tear the skin. Rinse off the salt and pat the chicken dry.
Time to prep the chicken by stuffing 3 whole garlic cloves and 5 generous slices of ginger and a handful of spring onions into the cavity of the chicken and place breast-side down in a large pot. Cover with water and add a generous amount of salt, a tablespoon of soy sauce and a good glug of Shaoshing wine and bring to just below a simmer. After 15 minutes, gently turn the chicken over and keep the pot just below the simmer for another 20 minutes. Now turn off the heat and leave the chicken to cool slightly for 10 minutes in the pot.
The chicken is now done, remove to a plate and cover in cling film to continue steaming. It may look strange, the skin will be gelatinous, and the meat will be moist, juicy and cooked perfectly.
Don’t throw away your stock, bring it to the boil and skim off any bits on the surface. Strain through a muslin cloth and reserve, and we’ll need this for the main meal and the rice. You may need to bolster the stock with a little extra salt and Shaoshing wine, but thats a matter of taste
Now for the rice. Fry a little finely chopped garlic in a frying pan without colouring. Add some rice and gently fry until translucent before transferring to your rice cooker. Add as much of the reserved stock as required to your rice cooker and cook as normal.
So now for the condiments – ginger sauce. Simply de-skin a good knob of ginger and finely grate into a bowl. Finely chop a couple of spring onions and also add to the bowl. Finally, get some some vegetable oil and heat it up till smoking, when piping hot, pour over the ginger and spring onion taking care that it doesn’t spit and burn you. Add a little salt, allow to cool and the ginger sauce is done.
To prepare, de-construct the chicken into thighs, legs and breast, being careful to cut and not tear the skin. If you can, de-bone the chicken and reconstruct on a serving plate. Garnish with sprigs of coriander, a drizzle of sesame oil and a few drops of soy.
Now serve the chicken with a bowl of the cooked rice, a bowl of the piping hot stock and the ginger sauce. Depending on what country you’re in , you may also be served chilli sauce or thick sweet soy sauce. Personally I use them all 🙂
I reckon this dish is an absolute double thumbs up, dig in and enjoy !!