Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chicken Rice

I feel a little sheepish posting this because it is embarrassingly simple and easy to make. However, given some other blog posts about the topic and how much comfort this dish has provided over winter, it seemed worthwhile to share it.

It's our own version of Chicken Rice - a famous
Hainanese dish which originates from a tropical island in China but, with Chinese immigration, is now also considered a national dish of Singapore. A cursory www search finds many different recipes specific to various regions or traditions - but the following is what we do when we feel like a bit of Chicken Rice love. The chicken meat is tender and moist and the soup so warming (If you're short on time, this dish will last a few days so you can work/write and not have to worry too much about nutrient intake... perfect for thesis writing!).

Our take is more comparable to a chicken stock than traditional Chicken Rice. Old school recipes tend to make a clear broth/soup as there are less ingredients, but I like the extra sweetness and body that vegetables add to the soup.

Chicken Rice
Elmo, Kim and Jfox style

Poaching the chicken
1 onion, sliced
1 medium leek, sliced
2-3 carrots, diced
3-4 stalks celery, leaves and all
2-3 cloves of garlic
a few bay leaves
a few stalks of lemon thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
~2 litres water
1 small chicken (~1 kg - but this is only due the limitation of our stock pot)

dried mandarin peel from one mandarin (it's an old family tradition to dry out our mandarin peels in the summertime sun and then store them in an air-tight jar. We add the dried peels to winter soups for a bit of tang.)
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 cob of corn (we loove corn)

Garlic Rice
4-5 cloves garlic, diced up finely
2C rice (we use jasmine or long grain rice)

Add a small amount of vegetable oil to a hot wok.
Lightly stir fry garlic - take care not to burn the garlic.
Add rice to garlic, stir fry for a few minutes.
Place garlic/rice in rice cooker and add water to cook as usual.

Dipping Sauce
In a small dish, mix:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons garlic-chilli sauce (you can find this in a covenient jar at the asian supermarket :) )
2 tablespoons of soup from the poached chicken
Alter the ratios according to your taste.

In the stock pot, add some oil until hot (olive or vegetable oil).
Saute onion, leek, celery and carrots until fragrant and the onions/leeks are softened and starting to become translucent.
Add water to the pot -be sure to leave enough space in the pot to add the chicken.
Add bay leaves and lemon thyme.
Add tomatoes, corn and mandarin peel if you wish.
Bring to the boil and boil for a few minutes.Add whole chicken and reduce to a simmer.
Ensure the chicken is covered with water as it is cooking.
Skim the fat/foam from the top of the soup as the chicken is poaching.

As your chicken is poaching, prepare garlic rice. Keep warm in rice cooker.

Simmer chicken and soup for ~60-90 minutes or until meat is tender.

Carve chicken meat to your liking. I prefer to remove all the meat from the carcass and then place the chicken bones back into the soup to continue simmering. I freeze the remaining stock for soups (usually with Mum's won tons), risottos etc.

Serve chicken pieces and vegetables from the soup with garlic rice, garnished with diced spring onions or coriander. This is accompanied with a bowl of the soup that was used to poach the chicken, and the dipping sauce for the chicken.

Apologies for lack of final pics: as usual, we were too busy digging in...

This is just our home version of Chicken Rice, the recipe is extremely flexible so feel free to make it your own!


  1. My brother and I were discussing chicken rice yesterday! It's one of our favourite things to eat. So tasty!

  2. Sounds good. It's definitely one of my comfort foods. You know - there is no 'proper' way to cook it. Everyone has their own version and it is the quality of the soup that matters most.

    If I'm really slack and just want to do a small portion, I'll toss a chicken maryland, rice, seasonings and home made master stock(which gives it the intense flavour) into the rice cooker to make it. Sheer sacrilege, I know, but work's a treat - LOL!

    As far as the name goes, Hai Nan actually means southern ocean. When my family went to the island of Hainan last year, they did not find Chicken Rice on any menus, and yes, they speak Chinese. Apparently it's not a local dish.

    It is commonly held that the dish is something that evolved in Singapore and Malaysia, combining local and Southern Chinese influences with local ingredients. And boy is it good over there! MMMMhmm!

  3. Can I come to your house for lunch?

    Mmm...looks good!

  4. hi agnes> chicken rice is definitely a dish to share with family =)

    hello stickyfingers> thanks for the infos - how kool you tried it in singapore and malaysia.. must do foodie tour there one day... and i love the sound of your rice cooker version!

    haha, sure mellie, you're most welcome for lunch! perhaps we could swap recipes: EG's mum's version might be more authentic.. any excuse to eat chicken rice =)


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