It’s another taste of home with thebigfatnoodle’s version of chicken rice
chicken rice paradise a la thebigfatnoodle lah!
One of the things Singapore is most famous for is its Hainanese chicken rice. You’ll find a chicken rice stall in almost every single hawker centre or coffee shop. Like most hawker dishes, every country and every hawker stall owner in the region has his or her own version.
After I moved to the UK, recreating this dish was one of the first things I attempted to do. My husband has been my harshest critic – he lived on chicken rice when he was there and loved every plate he ate.
The fundamental principle behind chicken rice is that you submerge and poach a whole chicken until it’s cooked through but is infused with moisture and flavour from its own-made stock.
It’s always served with rice, but rice that’s cooked with the stock from your chicken pot, making the chicken rice-rice richly aromatic and glistening from the oil that the chicken’s released into its own stock.
When you serve this dish, you also normally have it with a small bowl of soup, which is basically the stock you made by boiling the chicken. Most people will also drizzle the soup onto their rice as they eat… it’s like a virtual cooking/eating circle – with each part feeding into the next in perfect harmony.
In all honesty, cooking the chicken, the rice and the stock is actually the easiest bit.
What brings the entire chicken rice ensemble together are the essential sauces that you have to eat the chicken rice with.
In Singapore, that’s normally some sweet soy which people tend to drizzle onto their rice, and a saucer of what I call ‘chicken rice chilli’ – a searingly hot and slightly sour sauce made from pounded chili and garlic – don’t plan any hot dates after you eat this unless you’re sure your partner loves garlic!
Some hawker stalls will also provide you with a dish of pounded ginger steeped in oil. This ‘ginger oil dressing’ (for want of a better name) is also quite common in Hong Kong.
A couple of years ago, I came up with my own special blend for making this pounded ginger oil dressing and one of my proudest cooking moments was when I made it for my mum and she loved it. It’s sometimes a bit embarrassing because she raves about it to everyone, but I’m only embarrassed because when you see how easy it is to make, there’s really nothing special or unique about it. I just think I found a nice balance between all the ingredients. To this day, even when others follow my recipe to the tee, my mum still insists that mine tastes different and better. Well, she would, wouldn’t she… 🙂
All in all, making this chicken rice dish is really a labour of love. As I said, each individual component is really simple, but it’s the sum of all the consummate parts that takes time.
I’d suggest you make both the chicken rice chilli and the pounded ginger oil dressing a day in advance (especially the ginger oil dressing so all the flavours can really come together overnight).
I guarantee that once you’ve tried making this yourself, you’ll find yourself making it again and again and again… you can easily feed about 4-6 on a whole chicken. So if you just fancy a change from your usual Sunday roast chicken dinner, why don’t you try making this chicken rice dish instead? click here for the recipe.
Lots of love