Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hainanese chicken and rice, with The soup..



Yes, The soup is the master of ceremonies here.

I tasted this wonderfully succulent, juicy and flavor packed chicken dish at a Singapore hawker's festival at Eros some time back and it led to a discussion there on. Someone suggested a link that had a wonderfully explained recipe. Seeing the descriptions I was tempted to try this at home, a good decision for someone who loves all things soupy and all light chicken recipes.

When you have been cooking your meals for a long time, you know which recipes will be great for you. That's how you pick up. Yes, a great recipe was picked up this time.

Simple flavors, simple procedure and few ingredients. Mostly all of them you would find in an Asian kitchen.  few fresh ingredients make the dish really great in this case. The chicken was frozen in my case but still resulted in the most amazing flavors.

The only thing I tweaked in the recipe was addition of a few whole spices in the broth and adjusting the dipping sauce to my taste.


There is only one condition. Use a chicken with skin.

Otherwise too there is not much taste when the skin is off. Many people discard the skin as they find it too fatty. Some even think it would temper their cholesterol.

But that is a nonsensical thought as our body wouldn't import cholesterol from a chicken :-) It can make it's own through the excess carbohydrates and refined processed oils we consume.

Normal cholesterol level depends on sensible eating and choosing natural good fats.

In this recipe there is no additional fat used for cooking the chicken so you would be comfortable even if you are watching calories.


The ingredient list and instructions look extensive but the recipe is quite simple to execute. Although it requires around an hour's time to assemble this meal. may be some more if you are having fun doing it.

Not very quick to cook but still enjoyable cooking.

ingredients for the chicken and broth....
one whole chicken with skin
2-3 large shoots of spring onion (bulbs not to be used)
2 inch piece of ginger sliced roughly
black peppercorns 1 tbsp
star anise 2
enough water to submerge the chicken in a suitably sized pan
salt to taste (adjust salt to the quantity of water too)
1 tsp of sesame oil

procedure for the chicken and broth...

Wash and clean the chicken properly. Rub salt over the skin and dislodge all the feather bits, the skin should look clean and scrubbed. Now the chicken is ready to be boiled.

Tie up the green parts of the spring onion and push them all inside the stomach cavity of the whole chicken. Put the ginger pieces too inside. Fill up the pan with water to submerge the chicken completely and let it boil.

There will be some scum floating up, remove it with a slotted spoon or sieve and let the pot simmer till the chicken is cooked through.

25 minutes at boiling temperature is usually enough time to cook chicken this way..

Now remove the chicken with the help of two slotted spoons , taking care not to pick it up holding the legs as the legs might get hacked off and the chicken would slip back int he boiling water. Use two slotted spoons as I mentioned, or one wide frying mesh if you wish.

Keep the Boiled chicken in a separate bowl and rub the sesame oil over the skin so it stays moist.

At the time of serving the chicken has to be carved, or cut into thin strips to serve.

The stock will be the clear soup or broth to be served along the meal. Garnished with chopped greens of spring onion and finely chopped coriander (cilantro) greens.


ingredients for the rice
a cup of rice, washed and soaked for 15 minutes
(basmati or a short grain rice as I used)
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 cups of the chicken poaching broth
2 tsp sesame oil

Procedure for the rice...

Heat the sesame oil in a pan and tip in the chopped ginger and garlic into it. Fry them together till they turn lightly browned and very fragrant.

Tip in the washed and soaked rice and fry the rice as well till it looks a little translucent, a couple of minutes for this quantity.

Add the measured amount of the hot chicken broth , let it come to boil and then cover and cook till done. A rice cooker or microwave would make it easy.

Garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro) at the time of serving.


ingredients for the dipping sauce..
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp tabasco sauce
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 inch piece of ginger chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 whole red chilly broken
1 tsp white vinegar

Blend them all together to make a sauce like consistency.

ingredients for the chicken cutlets...
(3-4 servings as a side with this meal)

chicken mince 300 gm
chopped white parts of 2 spring onions(the ones used for the broth)
chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies 2 tsp each
salt n pepper to taste
sesame oil to shallow fry (uses about a tbsp)

procedure for the chicken cutlets....

Mix everything together and shape into small patties.

Fry them all in a shallow pan using sesame oil . Frying both side till brownish and cooked through. Takes about 5 minutes each side on medium flame.


Serve hot with the meal. These cutlets get fried as the rice is cooking so the meal gets served hot.  The broth would require reheating as this was the first thing to be prepared.

Carving the chicken would be the last chore but doesn't require reheating. I loved the chicken pieces dunked into the hot soup as they get perfectly juicy and refreshed in the broth.

The red hot dipping sauce will be used for the boiled chicken strips as well as the chicken cutlets , a potentially hot dip to get a kick in between.

The chicken cutlet is optional as it is not served with this meal normally. I made it because my brother was visiting and he loves such cutlets. This time I tweaked the normal chicken cutlets to go with this meal. And the cutlets were the star of the meal for him.

The broth was the star for me. As I mentioned in the beginning, the master of ceremonies. I am partial to clear soups.

Arvind loved everything as it was difficult for him to decide a particular favorite in this meal. I know it will be so with many others.


The salad served on the side is a simple cubed cucumbers and Cherie tomatoes salad.

A dressing of sesame oil, vinegar and salt and chopped green chillies is mixed with some finely chopped onions first and this mixture is rested for about 10 minutes. Till the onions get almost pickled. Tossed with the cubed cucumbers and halved Cherie tomatoes at the time of serving.

We all loved this meal. I know anyone would.

Simple pleasures of life are such.

Cheers...

2 comments:

  1. Though I stay in Singapore,this is something whih I have to still taste ,,meal look so delcious,,,specially the soup,..
    I

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  2. sangeeta this is beyond awesome ! Where do we get chicken with skin in delhi ? Which is the best place to buy good free range chicken here ?
    Please do a post on that because I find that quality ingredients are problematic to procure in a bog city ...

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