Hainanese Chicken Rice looks deceptively simple but it does require some care and good quality ingredients to really make it shine, so source the best you can find. It’s a beautiful balance of just poached chicken, deeply seasoned rice and broth, the hum of chilli and a cooling cucumber salad.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
1 large free-range chicken
3 tsp salt
15g fresh unpeeled ginger, bruised with knife
1 tbsp (20ml) sesame oil
Coriander leaves, to serve
2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced, to serve
Ginger and green onion (shallot) oil
2 tbsp fresh grated ginge
½ tsp salt flakes
4 green onions, thinly sliced, green tops reserved
¼ cup peanut oil
600g jasmine rice, washed and drained
1/4 cup (approx.) vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves
2 eschalots, roughly sliced
875ml reserved chicken stock
2 tbsp (40ml) light soy sauce
2 tsp (10ml) sesame oil
1/3 cup (80ml) reserved chicken stock (from chicken)
3 long red chillies, deseeded or according to taste
6 thick slices of peeled fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp (40ml) calamansi lime or lime juice
1 tbsp rendered chicken fat or peanut oil
- Remove excess fat from inside the chicken. Roughly chop fat and render in a small frying pan over very low heat, stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and solids are crisp (eat as a snack). Reserve the fat.
- Rub chicken inside and out with 2 teaspoons salt, and allow it to come to room temperature (30–40 minutes).
- Place ginger, green tops of onions (for oil), remaining salt with 4 litres of water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Loop string around and under chicken wings and across the breast (unless you have a poultry hook), lower chicken into boiling water, and submerge for 1 minute. Lift chicken and drain the chicken, then repeat twice more, bringing stock back to the boil in between each submersion. Submerge the bird again, bring the stock back to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, ensuring the chicken does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cover with a lid, turn off the heat and leave chicken until cooked through (40–45 minutes).
- Carefully lift the chicken out of the pan and drain without breaking the skin and submerge in a large bowl of salted iced water. Strain and reserve the stock and stand the chicken in the iced water until cold, turning once, approx. 20–25 minutes. Drain, pat dry and rub the skin with sesame oil. The chicken should be cooked very lightly, pink inside the bones and with a gelatinous skin.
- For the ginger and green onion oil, pound the ginger and salt to a rough paste in a mortar and pestle. Add the green onion and pound lightly to combine. Heat the peanut oil in a small frypan until it is smoking then pour the hot oil over the ginger mixture. Stir, and reserve until ready to serve.
- For the chilli sauce, process the chilli, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt together until smooth (or use a mortar and pestle). You can add a little of the stock from the chicken if desired. Stir in the juice, then add more juice or a little salt if desired. Heat the chicken oil in a small saucepan until hot, pour over the chilli mixture and stir to combine.
- For the chicken rice, pound the garlic and eschalot roughly in a mortar and pestle. Combine the rendered chicken oil with vegetable oil to make ½ cup of oil. Heat in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir until translucent, then add the rice and stir-fry until it starts to pop. Transfer to a saucepan. Add reserved chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue to boil for about 5 minutes until the level of the liquid reaches the top of the rice, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 12 minutes, then remove from the heat and stand for another 10 minutes.
- For the dressing, combine all ingredients.
- Cut chicken Chinese-style with a cleaver or large knife, slice, pour over soy dressing, scatter with coriander sprigs, and serve with sliced cucumber, rice, bowls of hot chicken stock and sauces and chopsticks.
This recipe was created as part of a collection for Wine Selectors Magazine.