Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hainanese Chicken Rice - and a variation :-)

I enjoyed my first taste of Hainanese chicken in Vancouver about ten years ago.  I don't remember the name of the restaurant but I do remember the great taste of this chicken dish.  It was really nice to enjoy it at home.

This dish is easy to prepare.  You can easily multitask - while your chicken is cooking, it helps to prepare the ingredients for your dipping sauce and rice. Both of these are usually assembled after the chicken is done because they require the chicken broth, but you can get started washing and soaking the rice, chopping the garlic and ginger. In this recipe, all of the poaching broth is reserved -- some is used in the rice, a small amount is used in the chili sauce, and the remainder is saved to be heated and served as a simple soup to accompany the chicken.  This broth is delicious...

To serve six.


For the chicken
1              whole chicken 3.5 lbs, 1.8kg, preferably organic
1 tbsp      kosher salt, plus more, for exfoliating (don't skip this step)
4 inch      section of fresh ginger peeled and cut into 1/4'' slices
2              stalks green onion cut into 1" sections (both green and white parts)
1 tbsp      Asian sesame oil

For the rice
2 tbsp      grapeseed oil
2 cloves   garlic finely minced
1 inch      section of ginger finely minced (or grated on microplane grater
2 cups      long-grain uncooked rice
2 cups      reserved chicken poaching broth
1/2 tsp     sesame oil
1 tsp        kosher salt

For the chili sauce
1 tbsp      lime juice
2 tbsp      reserved chicken poaching broth
2 tsp        sugar
4 tbsp      sriracha chili sauce
4 cloves garlic
1 inch     section of ginger peeled

For the ginger garlic sauce
4 tbsp     cooking oil canola, vegetable, grapeseed
2 tbsp     grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1/2 tsp   salt
1 tsp rice or white vinegar

1 bunch fresh cilantro
2 cucumbers thinly sliced or cut into bite-sized chunks


To cook the chicken
To clean the chicken, with a small handful of kosher salt, rub the chicken all over, getting rid of any loose skin and dirt. Rinse chicken well, inside and outside. Season generously with salt inside and outside. Stuff the chicken with the ginger slices and the green onion. Place the chicken in a large stockpot and fill with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low to keep a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes more (less if you're using a smaller chicken). Check for doneness by sticking a chopstick into the flesh under the leg and see if the juices run clear or insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone. It should read 160F. The chicken will continue to cook to 165F during rest.

When the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Immediately lift and transfer the chicken into a bath of ice water to cool and discard the ginger and green onion. Don't forget to reserve the poaching broth for your rice, your sauce, and the accompanying soup. The quick cooling will stop the cooking process, keeping the meat soft and tender, and giving the skin a lovely firm texture. After cooling, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub the sesame oil all over the chicken. This will help prevent the chicken from drying out.

To cook the rice
Place rice into a large bowl, and fill with water. Use your hands to swish the water around, cleaning the rice. Tilt bowl to discard water, keeping the rice in the bowl Repeat 3 more times, until water is less cloudy. Fill bowl again, with fresh water. Let rice soak for 10 minutes.

In a wok or pot, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ginger and the garlic and fry until your kitchen smells like heaven. Be careful not to burn the garlic and ginger! Add in your drained rice and stir to coat, cook for an additional minute. Add the sesame oil, mix well.

Add 2 cups of your reserved poaching broth, add salt and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit (with lid still on) for 5-10 minutes more.

Carve the chicken
While your rice is cooking, remove the chicken from the ice bath and rub the outside of the chicken with the sesame oil. Carve the chicken for serving.

Make the sauces
To make the chili sauce: Blend your chili sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth and bright red.
To make the ginger garlic sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the cooking oil until very hot, when you start seeing wisps of smoke. Turn off heat. Immediately add garlic and ginger and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Once it settles, stir in salt and vinegar.

Season the soup
You should have six or seven cups of the reserved poaching broth left over to serve as soup. Just before serving, heat up the soup, taste and season with salt as necessary.

Serve the chicken rice with chili sauce, dark soy sauce, cucumber slices, and a bowl of hot broth garnished with cilantro or scallions.

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