Shaun and I have this funny habit when we are in the mall and craving Chinese. Our regular fare is either dimsum or fastfood Chinese. However, there are times that we try to break away from the routine and head to a real Chinese restaurant.
To satisfy this craving without necessarily breaking our wallets on a regular day, we order an “appetizer” plate. With chinese cold cuts, chicken, century egg, marinated jellyfish and pork asado. A cup of rice and a hot pot of tea and we are the happiest of campers.
I want to share how the cold chicken is prepared as it is very simple and I believe most of you, my friends, can do it at home. This is called many different names, some call it Hainan Chicken, Singapore Chicken or simply Chicken Rice and is most popular in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. It originates from Hainan in China and adopted by many overseas Chinese migrants in Southeast Asia.
While the appetizer plate does not usually come with rice(ordered separately), the traditional combo is the chicken, clear chicken soup(broth) and steamed rice.
There are many variations to the preparation, preferences to ingredients and the sauce. But this is my take on the dish. Here it goes.
One whole medium-sized chicken(already cleaned, without neck and feet)
2 cups of jasmine rice (2 cups serve 2-3)
2 cloves garlic
2 small sized ginger
a small bunch of spring onions
2 tbsps vegetable oil
4 tbsps sesame oil
1/2 tbsp white sugar
4 tbsps rice wine
salt (both for seasoning and for cleaning chicken)
Procedure for Chicken and Soup:
1. Make sure that the chicken is thoroughly cleaned. Rub it with salt and then with the lemon. Then rinse with hot boiling water. Make sure to get rid of any remaining feathers.
2. In a pot enough to accomodate the whole chicken, boil water. The water level should be high enough to cover the chicken when you place it in.
3. Place the chicken into the pot. Let simmer in medium heat for 20 mins. Flip the chicken and simmer for another 15 mins.
4. Remove the chicken from the pot, taking care not to break the skin. By this time, the chicken will be tender and the skin, extra soft. Let cool until it gets to room temperature (around 30 mins) and then refrigerate covered (either plastic wrap or in a big container with a cover).
5. When cool enough (some prefer to just eat it hot), brush the chicken with sesame oil. Chop chicken into serving pieces. One note of caution, never brush the chicken with sesame oil while hot, it will create some discoloration.
6. Season the chicken stock with salt and set aside. In my case, once it cools down to room temperature, I place it in a container and then refrigerate it. AFter awhile, the chicken fat will form at the top, you can then scrape it off and then reheat the clear broth just when you are ready to serve it.
7. Garnish soup with some drops of sesame oil (not too much) and finely chopped green onions.
Procedure for the dipping sauce:
1. Finely chop the green onions and ginger.
2. In a small bowl, or sauce dish,dissolve sugar with the rice wine, season with salt.
3. Mix the onions and ginger together with the sauce. You may choose to add in some lemon juice.
Procedure for the rice:
1. chop garlic and ginger. saute in vegetable oil. take care not to burn the garlic.
2. add raw jasmine rice. saute until the rice turns from its transparent color to a hard white.
3. transfer rice to the rice cooker. add chicken stock (careful to note that if the stock was already salted, to not season the rice with salt anymore). The ratio of liquid to rice should be the standard 1:1.
4. Turn the rice cooker on. Wait until rice is ready. Serve hot.
This dish can also go with other dipping sauces such as chili-garlic or plain light soy sauce.