Good evening, dear friends
On those days that I really don’t know what to cook, I would go for simple one-dish or one-pot type of meals. Hainanese Chicken Rice can be commonly found in almost every coffee shop and there is even a chain of restaurants specializing in selling Chicken Rice. So, I seldom cook this at home, unless I really ran out of ideas or motivation to plan a dinner menu.
Anyway, my kids love my home cooked version of Chicken Rice because mine is a bit different – they love the special black sauce and the green pea soup. I learned to cook this wonderful, yummy chicken rice from my late mother-in-law.
A plate of fragrant chicken rice with coriander leaves and green onion curls as garnishing, and some cucumber and tomato slices on the side
A giant platter of perfectly cooked, moist “white cut chicken” or “pak cham gai” in Cantonese, garnished with some coriander leaves and green onion curls, and drizzled with ample fried golden shallot oil. Yummy!
…with some homemade dark sauce and pounded ginger-garlic chilli as dips
… and a bowl of delicious green pea and chicken soup, with a sprinkle of chopped green onions and a few generous shakes of white pepper
The is a Chinese style of Chicken Rice that has its origins to a group of Hainanese migrants to South East Asia about 100 years ago. Hainan is an island located in the southern part of China. In Malaysia, most Hainanese ended up opening coffee shops which were popular due to their Hainanese style of brewing coffee and for their “yin-yeong” toasts. In addition to their famous Chicken Rice, Hainanese are very good cooks, often specializing in a fusion of Eastern and Western cuisine.
Here are the recipes to my version of Hainanese Chicken Rice. Please note that the portions here are huge as I like to cook ample servings of food. The leftovers can be eaten for lunch the following day. Alternative, the extra chicken pieces can be turned into “Salted Chicken” or “Harm Gai” for the next day.
It is very tricky to get the timing just right for cooking the chicken for this dish. I have tried many methods such as steaming, boiling and in this recipe, I had used a combination of “dunking,” boiling and poaching to get the perfect texture and moistness of the chicken meat.
For this, you need a really fresh chicken (I bought mine from the wet market in the morning), the bird should be mature enough for full flavour (my chicken was about 2.3 kilos), and it should be at room temperature when cooking.
Poached White Chicken or “White Cut Chicken” or “Pak Cham Gai” (serves 10 persons)
1 whole chicken & 3 whole chicken legs (cleaned and rubbed with 3 tbsps of salt)
Some chicken necks and bones (skin and fat removed) for stock
Enough water to immerse chicken in a fitting pot
* 2 tbsps salt
* 2 tbsps of sesame oil
5 tbsps of fried shallot oil
Some coriander leaves and green onion curls for garnishing
1) Boil the chicken bones in water to prepare the stock - simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes long.
2) Meanwhile, tie a twine or thick string around the wings and body of the chicken.
3) Remove chicken bones, and bring heat back to high.
4) Holding the string, lower the chicken gently into the water, making sure that the whole chicken is well immersed into the stock.
5) After 1 minute, use the string to pull the chicken out of the chicken stock and wait for the stock to come to a boil again.
6) Repeat the chicken “dunking” steps 4 and 5 for 6 times. The reason this is done is to ensure that the inside cavity of the chicken gets heated up properly by the hot stock. Else, we will end up with the inner thigh and backbone area sill partially uncooked while the rest of the chicken gets overdone.
7) Place the whole chicken into the stock together with the 3 whole chicken legs. Cover the pot.
8 ) Wait for the stock to come to a boil again. Be sure to check frequently for this. We don’t want to boil the chicken.
9) Immediately turn off the fire.
10) Leave the chicken to poach for 1 hour.
11) After one hour, gently remove whole chicken and chicken legs and immerse them into a large bowl of cold water. This step will produce a very smooth and silky texture to the chicken skin and meat. Yummy!
12) Remove chicken after 10 minutes. Let dry for 3 minutes.
13) Rub the sesame oil and salt all over chicken. Leave chicken for about 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on how long you can wait before wanting to eat it!) for it to cool down completely for easy chopping/cutting. Else, the meat will get “smashed up” or break apart.
14) Cut chicken up into bite sizes, drizzle with fried shallot oil and garnish with the coriander leaves and green onion curls.
Voila! Your very own homecooked “white cut” chicken, Hainese style!
How to cook Hainanese Chicken Rice (for 10 persons)
6 cups fragrant or jasmine rice, rinsed clean
2 tbsps salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp white pepper
3 pandan leaves, tied into a know (or 1/2 tsp of bottled pandan essence)
Enough chicken stock to cook rice (skim off the layer of oil in the chicken stock for use in cooking the rice – this makes the rice more yummy. I know, it is oily but just drink ample cups of Chinese tea after this meal to wash the fats away!
1) Put all ingredients into an automatic rice cooker to cook.
2) Be sure to stir the ingredients at least 2 to 3 times during cooking.
3) Cook chicken rice while the chicken is poaching.
Green Pea Chicken Soup
Using the leftover chicken stock (reserve 2 cups for making homemade black dipping sauce), add one can of Ayam brand canned Green Peas and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. Season to taste and garnish with chopped green onions and lots of white pepper. Yummy!
Homemade Black Sauce for dipping chicken
In a pan, heat up 2 tbsps of oil, and then fry 2 tbsps of chopped garlic. Add in the 2 cups of reserved chicken stock, 5 to 6 tbsps of thick black soy sauce and bring to a boil for about 2 minutes. Add in 2 tbsps of sugar (this sauce is sweetish) and then thicken with a cornstarch-water mixture.
Put into a bowl for serving. One of my kids love to pour this sauce over his rice.
Garlic-Ginger Chilli Sauce
10 red chilli
3-inch knob of fresh, young ginger, skin scrapped off
6 pips of garlic, skin removed
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Juice of 6 to 8 calamansi limes (limau kasturi)
Pound chili, garlic and ginger in a peststle and mortar untul fine. Don’t blend – it just doesn’t taste as good as pounded chili. Add in salt, sugar and lime juice and you are now ready to eat your very own Hainanese Chicken Rice!
Hope you will give this recipe a try and once you have tried your own homecooked Chicken Rice, you will find those sold outside somewhat lacking in taste!
Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!