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Hainanese Chicken and Rice – slow food at its healthy best

Hainanese Chicken and Rice – slow food at its healthy best

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You know how sometimes you just feel like simple food? Well, this Asian dish is clean, beautiful, – and really rather healthy. But, I admit,  it’s not exactly the most straight forward dish.

It seems that in this day and age we are always looking to cook stuff which is quick and easy – but I really do think there is a lot of merit in slow food. It’s the kind of cooking you do when you have some time free on the weekend – or you just feel like being in the kitchen and chopping a bit of this and stirring a bit of that.

It’s not a stressful dish – in fact, there is a decent length of time when you can sit back, Kylie Kwong style, and just wait, and read and ponder the world. I was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago – the only celebrity chef I have ever seen in real life – and just chat to her. She also has the best mannerisms. If you haven’t seen Kylie in action before – pop over to YouTube and have a look. She’s great.

But, I digress.

This recipe isn’t a Kylie Kwong dish – it was actually inspired by Justine Schofield. I really like her food too and when I watch her show – I’m always inspired and ready to get into the kitchen!

So, this is my version of Justine’s Chinese Hainanese Chicken and Rice. She serves it in separate components, which was really lovely, but, when I had the left overs a few days later – I made it more into one dish – and enjoyed it immensely as that is how I like to eat my food. For all your work you get beautiful poached chicken, an amazing clean and delicious soup, as well as a fantastic dipping sauce you are sure to find many other uses for.

So, here goes …

Hainanese Chicken and Rice 

Hainanese Chicken and Rice – slow food at its healthy best

  • 1 whole free-range chicken
  • 1 big handful flaked salt
  • 1 piece of ginger, slice lengthways into 6 pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ bunch spring onions, green tops removed
  • 1 chilli, roughly sliced
  • 3 coriander stalks, cleaned
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tbs. Chinese cooking wine (or mirin)
  • 1 tbs. light soy
  • Sesame oil, for basting

Ginger sauce

  • 3 knobs ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp. light soy
  • 3 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. chicken stock

Rice

  • 1 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. ginger, finely grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed well
  • 1½ cups chicken broth, strained from chicken stockpot
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil

Side salad (optional, but really adds a terrific freshness to the dish)

  • 4 lettuce cups
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, cut in 4
  • 1 cucumber, sliced on an angle
  • coriander leaves
  • 3 spring onions, white part finely sliced

Method

To prepare the poached chicken, rub all over with a handful of salt. Now rinse with cold water and pat dry with lots of paper towelling.  Place 3 pieces of the ginger, garlic, half the spring onions and chilli into the chicken’s cavity.  Place into a large pot and fill with water (approx. 3-4 litres depending on the shape and size of pot), until it’s just covered. Add the remaining spring onions, coriander stalks, star anise, cooking wine and soy sauce. Place on a medium heat and allow to the stock to come to a gentle simmer, ensuring it does not boil (at this stage place it on the lowest possible heat while it gently simmers). Cook gently with the lid on for 40 minutes. If you couldn’t get the chicken completely immersed – turn it over half way through the cooking time. Once the time is up, turn the heat off and allow the chicken to poach with the heat off for a further 30 minutes. Once again, if not fully immersed in liquid – turn half way through the standing time. 

While the chicken is poaching, prepare the sauce. Blend all ingredients for the ginger sauce in a small blender until finely chopped but not a fine puree. Place in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Once the chicken is cooked remove it from the fragrant broth and drain off well. Place on a platter until it is cool enough to handle. Once it’s cool, slice and pull the chicken away from the bones and place the pieces on a plate – they should be bite-sized. Cover with a little cooking liquid to keep the meat moist and drizzle lightly with sesame oil. Set aside. 

Using a fine sieve, strain the stock into a clean pot and bring to the boil.

To prepare the rice, in a medium pot, fry the ginger, garlic and shallot in the oil until soft. Add the washed rice and sesame oil and coat in the mixture. Add the broth and cook the rice using the absorption method.

Once the stock/soup has reduced by 1/3 it is ready to serve.  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt as needed. For me, I needed to add a really good pinch to bring out the flavours of the brother, which are lovely and delicate.

Using large flat bowls, pile the rice on and top it with the chicken. Ladle the soup around the rice and garnish the dish with the ginger sauce, some coriander leaves and the salad of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, if desired. 

This is also lovely served with a little sweet chilli sauce on the side too.

Over the last week or so, our household and been a very unwell one. So, to have poached chicken, broth, some carbs and a beautiful ginger sauce – well, it really hit the spot.

I hope you take the time to make this dish, because it really is lovely.

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