If you ask a Malaysian or Singaporean what they miss most while studying or staying overseas, chances are they will reply, ‘The food!’ Since Australia has quite a sum of Malaysian/Singaporean migrants, we are quite blessed to still have access to our beloved hawker stall foods. However, the food can be pretty pricey compared to the ones we get from our own countries. Hainanese chicken rice is one of Stan’s favourite hawker stall foods and he only get to eat the authentic ones when he visits Singapore every Christmas with his family. This dish has also become one of my favourites after I met Stan as I have always been a ‘noodle’ person. Since I grew up in East Malaysia, Kolo Mee (a type of wonton noodles with BBQ pork and minced pork) and Sarawak Laksa (very different from the Penang and Singaporean versions) are on the top of my list when it comes to hawker stall foods.
Hainanese Chicken Rice is more commonly associated with Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine but Thailand and Vietnam have their own variations as well. This dish can be easily found at any hawker stall throughout both countries. The oil and chicken essence extracted from the chicken gives the rice a nice fragrance. Pandan or screw pine leaves are used to further enhance the flavour. Most of the ingredients listed are fairly easy to find at your local supermarket and oriental stores. Pandan leaves, on the other hand, might be quite difficult to obtain if you’re overseas so that can be optional. As most Malaysians and Singaporeans have a “agak-agak” attitude towards measurement of ingredients, we based our measurement by approximation and you can adjust the taste according to your liking.
It may take a long time to cook the dish and several trial and errors to perfect it but it is definitely worth the time. So how is this Chicken rice recipe? Good enough to lure the cat that our neighbour was babysitting to sit outside our doorstep. That should be good enough, then.
Ingredients: Chicken Rice (Serves 4)
1 whole chicken
1-2 Chicken frames
Salt for scrubbing the chicken
5-6 stalks of spring onion
2 knobs of ginger
Chicken fat removed from the whole chicken (optional)
Pandan leaves (This is optional if you cannot obtain it from your country. It is usually found at Oriental stalls either frozen or fresh)
An entire garlic
5-6 tablespoon of soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinese rice wine for marinating the chicken
5 cups of rice (You can adjust according to how many people you’re serving)
4 Chicken stock cubes
3 Tablespoon oil
Additional soy sauce, salt and sesame oil for the chicken broth
A pot of ice cold water to dunk the cooked chicken in
Dark soy sauce to serve (There are 2 kinds of dark soy sauce, the one thick caramel texture one is used to serve alongside the dish)
Ingredients: Chicken Sauce
1 scoop of the chicken broth
3 tablespoon of soy sauce and sesame oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
Ingredients: Garlic Ginger Chili Sauce
Since I am lazy, I usually get the chili sauce from Oriental stores. Chicken rice chili is different from the normal chili sauce as ginger and garlic are added into the sauce. The lime juice gives it a slightly tangy flavour. The brand I often use is called Singlong. However, if I have the time or want to put a bit more effort, I tend to make my own concoction.
1 whole garlic
1 whole ginger
5-6 red chili
Half a scoop of chicken broth
2 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 Tablespoon of sugar
Juice from one whole lime
Instructions: Chicken Rice
1. Fill a pot with water that is just enough to cover an entire chicken and bring it to a boil.
2. Once it is boiling, depending on the size of the pot, put in 1 or 2 chicken frames and boil on high heat for 1-2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, start cutting cucumbers into thin slices and chopping up the coriander into fine pieces.
4. Chop up the spring onions into shorter lengths. Reserve some of them to be chopped up into finer pieces for garnishing.
5. Remove the skin of the garlic and ginger. Reserve one knob of ginger for the chicken.
6. This step is optional but to make the rice more flavourful, you can remove the fats from the ‘rear end’ of the chicken.
7. Put the ginger, garlic and chicken fat and grind them into fine pieces with a food processor or you can mince them if you do not have one.
8. Heat the wok or frying pan and add about 2-3 tablespoon of oil.
9. While the oil is heating up, wash and drain the rice well.
10. Fry the ginger, garlic and chicken fat mixture until fragrant or when the mixture turns slightly more yellow.
11. Add in the uncooked rice and stir fry until the mixture is well distributed throughout the rice and the rice is glistening with oil.
12. Put the rice in a rice cooker and set it aside.
13. Scrub the chicken with a generous dash of salt to remove the grime. Run it under tap water to remove the salt.
14. Stuff the chicken with a knob of ginger and the spring onion.
15. Marinade with soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, and sesame oil for 30 minutes to an hour.
16. After marinating, turn the heat to the lowest and depending on the size of your pot, you can either leave the chicken frames to cook with the whole chicken or remove them and put the whole chicken into the water. Remember to keep the heat at the lowest to ensure tender chicken meat.
17. Leave the chicken to cook for an hour. At this point, add in the chicken stock cubes.
18. After an hour, grab a strong man/woman to help you scoop out the chicken. I have Stan my man to do that task. Immediately submerge the chicken in cold icy water to ensure the skin does not come off easily when cutting them up later.
19. Use a skewer or cake tester and pierce through the thickest part of the chicken. If the juice comes out clear, it is cooked.
20. Add more salt, soy sauce and sesame oil to the chicken broth to taste.
21. Pour the chicken broth onto the rice that has been set aside. The broth should cover about an inch of the rice. This step is through trial and error since the different type of crops and rice cooker used can yield different results. A good chicken rice cannot be too sticky. It has to be ‘grainy’ and chewy at the same time.
22. If available, you can add pandan leaves into the rice cooker to make it more fragrant. Just tie it into a knot and dunk it in with the broth covering the rice. Cook the rice till it is done.
23. Once the rice is cooked, just leave it on warm setting of the rice cooker to let it steam for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up the cooled chicken.
24. To make the sauce, scoop up some chicken broth and add a dash of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar and sesame oil and adjust the amount according to your liking. Then, drizzle them on top of the chicken.
25. To make it more traditional, just scoop the rice in a bowl to make a dome shape. Garnish the rice with coriander, spring onion and cucumber. Serve the chicken rice with the chicken broth, garlic ginger chili sauce and dark soy sauce. Enjoy!
Instructions: Garlic Ginger Chili Sauce
1. Chop and remove the seeds from the chili.
2. Remove the skin of the garlic and ginger.
3. Cut and extract the lime juice.
4. Put the chili, garlic, ginger and grind them till very fine with a food processor. You can use a mortar and pestle if you do not have a food processor. Just make sure you chop up the ingredients to smaller pieces before you pound away.
5. Add vinegar, lime juice, sugar and chicken broth and adjust the amount according to your taste.