Thursday, April 3, 2014

Adaptations (My take on Hainanese Chicken Rice)

I had never heard of Hainanese chicken rice until seeing Anthony Bourdain's Singapore episode of No Reservations. And oh my goodness, I needed to have it.
So I did some reading up online, bought some chicken and ginger, and got to work.
The basic concept is simple enough- Boil whole chicken in a flavorful broth. Use some of the broth to cook your rice. Serve chicken atop rice, with delicious condiments, something for crunch, and broth if you like.
Over the years I have made enough changes that I really can't call it Hainanese chicken anymore, but dang, it is delicious. My starter broth is a combination of water, frozen broth (usually chicken or turkey), soy sauce, chopped green onions and garlic, some crushed red pepper flake, and the peelings from a big chunk of ginger.
Into this I put the chicken (yes, I often do the exfoliating step steamykitchen describes.)
I bring it to a boil, then drop it into a simmer. It goes until the breast tests to about 170. I let it cool just a few minutes, pull off the breast, and put the rest of the chicken back in the pot so everything else can finish cooking through.
The rice is cooked in this same broth, in my rice cooker. (Although not this week, as there was an incident involving an improperly cleaned rice cooker. Very expensive mistake. And disgusting to boot.)
Sauces--these are my primary reason for making the whole production happen.
1) Ginger-garlic sauce. Grate ginger or throw in mortar and pestle with 2 or 3 smashed cloves of garlic and a 1/4 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of white pepper. Combine with a few tablespoons of sesame oil. Sometimes I add a splash of rice wine vinegar.

2) Soy-scallion sauce. Like it says, this one is pretty much good soy sauce and a bunch of thinly-sliced green onion. Either rice wine vinegar or freshly-squeezed citrus juice. Sometimes I add a smidge of garlic and a couple of drops of sesame oil so it clings better.

3) Sriracha. Awww, yeah. (Traditionally chefs make their own chili sauce. I am fine with this squeeze bottle, thank you very much.)
I tend to hand everyone a bowl of the rice, with a little broth poured over it. They get to put on their chicken, sauces, and fresh garnishes.

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