Hainanese chicken rice

Servings: 4


The chook
1.5 kg whole chicken (If you are only cooking for one or two people, use chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken.)
1 clove garlic, bashed
3 cm piece of ginger, sliced and bashed
5 spring onions, knotted together
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp light soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp light soy
3 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
2 slices ginger, 5 mm thick, bashed
3 cups (600 g) jasmine rice, washed, drained in a sieve
1 tsp salt
1 pandan leaf, fresh or frozen
4 ½ cups chicken stock, from poaching chicken

Red sauce
3-4 long red chillies, roughly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly sliced
80 ml white vinegar
⅓ cup (80 g) caster sugar
½ tsp salt

Green sauce
8 stalks spring onions, finely sliced
1 x 6-7-cm piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
2 tsp salt
80 ml vegetable or peanut oil
sliced cucumber
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp deep-fried shallots
60 ml kecap minas

Cut the fat surrounding the inner part of the chicken cavity away and reserve for the rice. Stuff all the ‘chook’ ingredients into the cavity of the chicken and secure the opening with a short skewer. Lower the chicken into a stock pot that fits it snugly around the sides but is tall enough to allow the chicken to be covered with water. Bring to the boil, cover, and reduce the heat to poach it very gently for 1 hour, so that there is only a slow, steady stream of bubbles. Skim any frothy impurities and oil from the surface of the stock as it cooks.

Meanwhile, prepare the rub by mixing the soy and sesame oil in a small bowl. To test if the chicken is cooked, lift it by one of the legs and if it pulls away easily where the thigh joins the body, it is done. Transfer the bird onto a plate and massage with the rub. Cover and set aside, then bring the stock back to the boil. Boil for 1 hour or until you’ve reduced the stock by one-third (you’ll need at least 2.5 litres left).

To cook the rice, heat the oil and reserved chicken fat in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. When the pieces of fat have shrunk considerably, add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant and slightly golden. Add the rice and stir to toast the grains for a few seconds. Add the salt, pandan and chicken stock, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the surface is dotted with pits and no liquid is visible. Reduce to the lowest heat and cook for another 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and rest for 15 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork. Cover and set aside.

Blitz all the red sauce ingredients with a blender or stick blender until smooth. If using a mortar and pestle, pound the chilli and garlic in small amounts, then mix with the vinegar, sugar and salt. Refrigerate.

To make the green sauce, combine spring onions, ginger and salt in a bowl, then sit it in the sink. Heat oil in a small saucepan over high heat until smoking. Stand back while you pour it over the aromatics to avoid the spitting oil. Mix and set aside.

To serve, debone chicken and slice into 2 cm pieces, then divide chicken and cucumber between 4 dinner plates. Pour about 1 cup of broth into 4 individual bowls and garnish with the sliced spring onions and deep-fried shallots. Press about 1 cup of rice into a small rice bowl, then invert onto individual dinner plates. Divide all the sauces and kecap manis into small dishes so everyone has their own. Don’t hold back on the sauces when you are eating this meal. Because the chicken is subtly flavoured, all the seasoning comes in the form of the sauces. Make sure you put a little of each in every spoonful.

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