Monday, January 11, 2010

Recipe - Chicken Rice for the Soul

This is a typical Malaysian styled Chicken Rice Recipe. Some call it Hainanese Chicken rice and some call it Ipoh style Chicken Rice. Either way, I think this recipe is a little bit of both and ends up being how I like it.

Chicken Rice is a quick and complete meal. It has many ways you could modify it to suit the taste and preference for you and your family. This recipe is just the basic and I will share some options at the end. This recipe might seem long, but I have written it out as detailed as possible to benefit the less experienced cooks.
Usually it is a 3 to 4 part meal, consisting of the chicken dish, rice, soup, chilli sauce and an optional accompanying vegetable dish. Sounds like a whole day of cooking? Not really, actually if planned well you will not spend more than 30-40 mins straight in the kitchen! However I would suggest you read the entire recipe before starting on it!

1) One whole medium sized chicken (please go for free range)
2) 2 cups of Thai fragrant rice
3) 3-4 large slices of ginger
4) One large white onion
5) A bunch (5-6 large stalks) of spring onions or shallots
6) 2-3 cloves of garlic
7) Small Lebanese cucumber
8) Coriander for garnishing
9) Soy sauce, Sesame oil, Salt and white pepper to taste

Chilli sauce
1) 2 large Chillies (Asian large chillies)
2) Fresh ginger the size of the nail of your thumb
3) 2 small cloves garlic
4) Soy sauce
5) White vinegar
6) Brown sugar

This recipe will serve 4 medium size eaters or 2 large eaters!

Here is how to:

The Chicken Dish
I will start with this as it might be the most daunting part of the whole meal. But trust me, once you go through this recipe, you will find that it is a walk in the park!

1) Start with getting 1.5 liters of water to boil
2) Cut your spring onions to seperate the bulb part and the leave/green part. To do this grab the bunch with the bulb right at the bottom of your palm and cut at the top of your palm. Add the bulb (white) part into the water. Keep the green part for later.
3) Roughly cut up your white onion and add to the water together with 2 ginger slices.
4) Add about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of Soy Sauce to the water. Taste before you add the chicken, and add more if needed.
5) When the water is boiling rapidly, carefully place in the whole chicken into the pot.

Now you have 2 option to continue cooking -
a) Busy Woman option
1) After adding the chicken wait until the water starts boiling again.
2) 5 mins after the water starts boiling, cover the pot and turn off the heat completely. You don't have to move the pot to a cool heating plate, just leave it alone.
3) Go to work, finish what ever you are doing. Come back around 6-7 hours and your Chicken is cook right through!

b) I've got time, it's the weekend option
1) After adding the chicken wait until the water starts boiling again.
2) 5 mins after the water starts boiling, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Leave the pot for 20 mins and turn off completely.
3) During this time you could move on to the other parts of the dish.

The Chili Sauce
While you are waiting for the chicken to cook, you could prepare the chili sauce. This chili sauce is a particular one we have with Chicken Rice and is different from dipping chili sauce.

1) Add all the ingredients in to a blender together with half a cup of water and blend. That's it!
2) If you do not like it too spicy, try reducing the amount of chilies or remove the inner parts of the chili.
3) Wear gloves when working with chili, this could help avoid any accidents!

The Rice
The rice for this dish is not plain white rice, but rice that is soft and delicious you would not mind eating it on it's own.

(Please start this only when you have completed 'The Chicken Dish' part, to ensure that the soup is full flavored)

1) I make my rice following 1 part rice to 1.5 part water. If you like it other way, please modify the recipe. So for 2 cups of rice I will use 3 cups of soup from the chicken. Yes, you know the water you use to boil your chicken in? That's it.
2) Put the soup in a pot and turn on the heat to get it boiling
3) Heat up a frying pan to medium heat and start sauteing the chopped garlic with some vegetable oil.
4) Before the garlic browns, add in the rice. If you washed the rice, make sure it was drained well before pouring it in!
5) Countinue stirring the rice in the pan for around 3-4 minutes, then pour the content of the whole pan, into the boiling soup. Please be careful when doing this part!
6) Do not stir the mix in the pot. Just leave it to come to a boil, then turn down the heat.
7) When the rice has fully absorb all of the soup, turn the heat off and stand.

The part about sauteing the rice with the garlic was a little Chicken Rice secret shared with me by a wonderful cook of a friend. Even she doesn't know exactly why, but this was handed down to her by her mother. I have tried to cook the rice without this part and it just did not work out as well. So this part is important!

Plating and Presenting
There are several ways you could plate up this dish. Either an individual dish or the Chicken in the middle to share. Up to you!

Plating the Chicken
1) Cut up the chicken to pieces, depending on your preference. Either to quaters, 8 or 16 parts.
2) Place it on a large plate.
3) In a small bowl add 2 table spoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Add in one large ladle of soup. Pour this mixture all over the chicken.
4) Garnish with Coriander and sliced up spring onions.
5) Place slices of cucumber around the plate.
6) Serve the soup on the side.

Your Chicken Dish is ready to serve!

Options and Preferences

If you don't like poached chicken, I know some who don't, what you can do is bake the chicken in high heat after they are cooked. Do this after cutting the chicken up to 4 parts, then bask the skin a little with some oil and put it in a hot hot oven so the skin crisps up without drying out the meat.

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