Singapore’s National Dish a local delight….Hainanese Steamed Chicken Rice
Served up to passers-by at food stalls and carts this dish is also easily prepared at home. It was introduced to me by my co-worker (Sophia) who grew up in Indonesia, she said that her mother would prepare it for her when she felt under the weather…a promise to cure-all ills! After she shared the recipe I see why, it’s simple, and includes foods that heal: ginger, capsicum, garlic, onion, cilantro and a whole chicken with bones and all to create broth, (which if you’ve read my post about oxtail, then you know how great cooking with bones can be!) A great snippet from The Weston A. Price Foundation,
“Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily-not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.”
In the past this dish was common peasant food and is now a specialty throughout Singapore. Like many great dishes though, Singapore is not its birthplace. This dish originated long ago in Hainan, an island in the South China sea, also known as China’s smallest province. There, it is prepared with older, fatter chickens which bring about more oil to the dish. The chicken is boiled in a pork and bone broth…this style of broth is used again and again only topping off with water when necessary keeping it mineral and nutrient dense. As time carried on the dish was also passed on to different cultures, tweaking it to their own likenesses until it somehow reached it’s all time fame in Singapore.
I highly recommend trying this recipe because the aroma is sensational and the taste is even better! I cooked mine according to my co-worker’s description, via word of mouth….a great way to experiment and cook! This is how my Hainanese Steamed Chicken Rice came out:
Hainanese Steamed Chicken Rice
Translated from Sophia Jomono:
1 whole organic chicken
Salt and Pepper
Use a 1 whole organic chicken with skin and scrub it clean and rub generously with salt
Bring a stew pot of water to boil
Stuff the cavity of the chicken with garlic, ginger and green onion
Drop the whole stuffed chicken into the boiling pot of water, breast side down.
Add salt and fresh black pepper (I’m big on flavor so sometimes I also added a pinch more garlic and ginger)
Bring to a boil then let simmer for at least 40 minutes/until chicken is done.
When the chicken is through cooking remove it from the pot (SAVE THE STOCK) and submerge the chicken into an ice water, this will stop the cooking and result in a moist bird.
Remove from ice bath and shred or carve chicken (I shredded mine)
In a hot pan add a few swirls of sesame oil
Then saute about 4 cloves garlic and an 1-1/2 or so piece of ginger (do not brown, just until tender)
Add 2 cups of uncooked rice (I used Jasmine, but you can use your preference) and cook and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add a few splashes of fish sauce and soy sauce/tamari to taste
Next add about 2 1/2 cups of the reserved chicken broth, and some more salt and pepper
Bring the rice to boil then put the lid on and let simmer until done
*If you have a rice cooker then use that because the rice probably turns out to perfection…can you tell I don’t have one 🙂
While the rice is cooking you prepare the following:
Green Onion, chopped
Hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Chili Garlic Sauce ( I use store-bought–It’s called Chili Garlic Sauce with a Rooster Tùòng Òt Tòi Viet-Nam)
Soy or Tamari Sauce
When the rice is finished if you feel it’s necessary season with more soy sauce.
Pile rice on a serving dish, top with the cooked chicken then adorn with the chopped cilantro and green onion. Surround the dish with sliced hard-boiled eggs, avocado and lime wedges. Add a dollop of chili sauce on top and EAT!
For those of you who like a little more structure I am also including a great link to The Steamy Kitchen where intern Jess provides a wonderful step by step photographed recipe for Hainanese Chicken Rice, click here!