Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hainan Chicken Rice ala Beancounter

It definitely wasn’t love at first sight but my heart definitely did melt after the first bite of Hainan Chicken Rice. In the beginning, I could not see the attraction people have for this dish. Nothing by the way it looks strikes me as spectacular. I mean it’s just poached chicken and rice… But my opinion did a big turn around after tasting this quite unimposing but magnificent dish!

I first had it back in my university days. It was heaven on a plate (1 plate and two bowls actually) for a student on a very limited budget. I remember tagging along with some friends to this hole in the wall restaurant called Tak Chee (don't know what it means but it must be along the lines of "double happyness" or something that's supposed to bring good luck) to have their famous $5 chicken rice.

I paid an homage to this same restaurant where "we first met" years after I've left Perth. But sadly though, on my most recent visit early last year it was shut ...permanently (probably to make way for new apartments).

Like anything really good I was a little bit intimidated by Hainan Chicken Rice. There’s at least three parts to it (the chicken, the rice and the soup) that made it seem daunting to try at home. It took years before I even attempted it. I had varying degrees of success in the beginning but I eventually got it right, to my taste that is. Well, my friend Patrick thinks it’s the best chicken in Brisbane so I must be doing something right! *LOL* another shameless self-promotion!

Hainan Chicken Rice


1 very fresh chicken (preferably free range)
6 slices fresh ginger 2 cloves garlic, slightly bruised
2 spring onions1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Some sea salt
Some ground white pepper

Poaching Stock

Chicken bones a kilo of chicken wings or legs
3 pieces of ginger
2 spring onions

Chicken Rice

3 cups jasmine rice
Some chicken fat taken from the whole chicken
2-3cm ginger finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped very finely or grated
3 ½ to 4 cups of poaching stock
1 pandan leaf

Chilli Sauce

10 fresh red chillies, seeds removed
1-2 cloves garlic
5cm fresh ginger
2 tsp poaching stock
Lime/Lemon juice to taste
Sea salt to taste

Ginger & Spring Onion Sauce

Walnut size finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic finely chopped garlic
½ tsp salt
Chopped spring onion
Oil (not Olive oil)

Chicken Soup

Poaching stock
Chopped spring onion or small amount of shredded lettuce

1. Firstly, make the stock to be used to poach the chicken. In a large enough pot (to fit the whole chicken) put some water and add some ginger and spring onion and the chicken bones/wings and bring to a boil. You can use already made chicken stock if you like but still add the ginger and the spring onion.
2. While waiting for the stock to boil prepare the chicken by rubbing it with salt and a bit of white pepper inside and out. Place the spring onion, slices of ginger and the garlic inside the chicken.
3. After letting your stock boil for a couple of minutes lower the heat to the lowest setting. Place the chicken in the stock breast side down. Let it poach (the water should be barely boiling) for about half an hour. Turn the heat off and cover and leave for another half an hour.
4. Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside. You should chop it just before serving. Dress it with some light soy sauce and sesame oil.
5. Next prepare the chicken rice. Wash the rice then drain well. Render the chicken fat in a little bit of oil in a pan.
6. Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic.
7. Add the rice and stir fry for about a minute or two.
8. Transfer the mixture to a rice cooker and add enough stock as recommended by your rice cooker brand. Place the pandan leaf in the rice cooker as well.
9. For the chilli sauce combine the chillies, garlic and ginger in a blender. Add the stock, lime/lemon juice and some sea salt and blend together.
10. For the ginger and spring onion sauce, heat up some oil in a pan in very high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, spring onion and salt and fry for a minute. Take off the heat and set aside.
11. For the soup, adjust the taste of your poaching stock to your liking. Add some chopped spring onion/shredded lettuce before serving.


Joelen said...

this looks so delicious and such a comforting meal!

The Beancounter said...

You're absolutely right 'bout the "comfort" factor of this food...

♥peachkins♥ said...

This looks very delish!!

♥peachkins♥ said...

I enjoyed reading your posts..

The Beancounter said...

Thanks for dropping peachkins! I'm glad you enjoyed your time here...

Tangled Noodle said...

I love Hainanese chicken and you've done a fantastic job with this dish! Good thing I know where I can find some so that I can take care of this craving that's just popped up!

The Beancounter said...

Cool TN! I don't have one nearby...i mean the good ones are a few kms away!

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite food!!
nice to know that a fellow beancounter is a very good chef lol
been a long time havent tried your
cuisine. by the look of it, you have
a legion of fans.

The Beancounter said...

Hello there my fellow bean counter! Legion is probably not the word i'll use...but anyway, i am quite fascinated that people would bother dropping by this humble page of mine....

So to all, thank you very much for taking the time...