Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice comes from the Chinese subtropical island of Hainan and many of the sons and daughters of Hainan immigrated to Singapore[ in the past 100 years. The most-popular dish of Hainan is the Chicken Rice in which a chicken is used in all ways — poached for the meat, the soup is used to make a deliciously flavored rice and to also infuse the chile sauce. This has become one of Singapore's top loved dishes, and you will find Hainanese Chicken Rice in every street corner coffee shop and food court as well as in the coffee houses of all hotels in Singapore.]

Total Time:
2 hr 10 min
Prep:
10 min
Cook:
2 hr

Yield:
4 to 6 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • Chile Sauce:
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh red chiles
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt
  • Chicken and Rice:
  • 1 (2-pound) chicken
  • 1 scallion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 slices fresh, peeled ginger
  • 6 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups long-grain uncooked rice
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
Directions

Make the Chile Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well, and season with salt, to taste. Set aside

Make the Chicken and Rice: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (enough water to immerse the chicken). Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the scallion and ginger. Add the chicken to the boiling water, breast side-down. Lower the heat to a simmer just under boiling point and cook, covered, until just cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to an ice water bath for about 5 to 6 minutes. (This is to arrest the cooking and will make the chicken skin crisp.) Drain. De-bone the chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. Reserve the chicken stock, and keep hot.

Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan over high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the rice and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add enough of the hot reserved chicken soup to reach 1/2- inch above the top of the rice. Bring to the boil, add the salt, and lower the heat to low. When steam holes form in the rice, cover the wok, and steam until cooked, about 30 minutes.

Whisk 1/4 cup of the hot chicken stock into the chile sauce.

Arrange the rice and poached chicken on a platter and drizzle with the chile sauce.


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    The chicken should taste bland. This is why there is so much flavor in the sauce and rice. I would suggest exfoliating the whole chicken with salt (kosher or sea and then rinsing it off. This process removes the guck from the chicken skin. Also, after bringing the water into a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and remove the scum/ impurity to clear out the broth.  
    For the sauce, I would suggest to add ginger and use lime instead of lemon. Finally, as a personal favorite, try mincing garlic and frying it in low heat until crispy. It would be the best condiment for this dish.
    If u are used to Chinese food from a take-out place (as I was for YEARS), this dish may be somewhat of a shock. I lived in NYC for almost a decade before I knew what GREAT Chinese-asian food was. A friend of mine (who funny enuf is Portuguese) made this for me and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. If yours is bland, you're doing something wrong. This dish is deceptively simple yet has TONS of delicate flavor going on. First of all, it's NOT General Tso's chicken. Don't go into this recipe thinking it's going to be covered in a brown, soupy, rich sauce. This is a dish that, unless you are an experienced chef, you do NOT want to deviate from the recipe much. The steps seem easy and are easy to modify (or even overlook completely), but if you do you will NOT get the full effect. FRESH ingredients like ginger root, garlic, green onion, a GOOD quality chicken are all necessary. You MUST saute the aromatics just as indicated (but do NOT brown them or they will be bitter). Also, do NOT skip sauteing the rice w/the aromatics AND the sesame oil. This adds TONS of flavor. A true Singaopre chicken recipe actually calls for you to bring the chicken to a boil and then covering and removing from the heat until it's done, letting the whole chicken 'poach' in the hot liquid OFF of the heat. You MUST 'shock' the chicken in the ice-water to give the skin that 'crispy' quality. Lightly drizzle w/sesame oil to add more flavor (but don't drown it in oil!!). Sprinkle w/chopped fresh cilantro and green onion and serve sliced cucumbers on the side. This is a wonderful, light dish in warm, humid months. Delicate, yes. Bland, NEVER!!
    "red chiles" could be many things, all very different. Are we talking about like red cayenne chiles?
    With traditional Hainan Chicken & Rice, the chicken is normally bland to taste. What really livens up this dish is to accompany it with a traditional ginger,shallot, salt & oil sauce. That is where the dish comes alive.
     
    Heat sesame oil in a wok to a high temperature and pour it over already minced garlic, shallots, and kosher salt. Stir to dissolve salt and add small ramekin to each place setting of the mixture. A small dab of this added to each bite brings the traditional flavor to life and you can imagine the east coast sea breeze of Hainan rustling through the banana trees.
    I was planning to make chicken noodle soup for my flu-addled family when I came across this recipe. I just used a standard chicken stock recipe and then followed the instructions for the rice and the sauce from this recipe. The sauce is great. The chicken is really meant to be on the bland side. It's the rice and the sauce that really makes the dish. I also added a little sugar to it to make it tangy. Yummy! And none of the chicken went to waste.
    I added mushrooms and more ginger to this. I brought it to a lua party and people raved about it, and my 12 year old even loved it. I have to confess that while tasty, I thought it was bland too.
    This recipe ended up being bland, despite the garlic and peppers. I was disappointed.
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