Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hainanese chicken rice

I always smile when I see old posts resurrected on CH because some topics continue to be sticky throughout the years. Take this one for example. A post asking where one could get the best Hainan Chicken Rice originated in May 2007, with a latest response on Feb 2010. I can see why. If you know and have tasted Hainan chicken rice, you too would be in desperate search for a place that serves it. It's hard to come by, especially if you are not willing to make a 30 mile drive from the Westside. If you are willing to make the trek, Savoy in Alhambra seems to be the place to go. But if you're lucky enough, you have a mom that can cook it. It's not a difficult recipe. Hainanese chicken rice, which is popular in Singapore and Malaysia, is basically chicken and rice. Yes it looks boring, but it's amazing with subtle special flavors. Firstly, the rice is flavorful. You cannot serve it with regular white rice. Secondly, the boiled chicken has to be tender and succulent. Lastly, the condiments are key to the dish: chili, minced ginger and soy sauce.

The rice is first lightly fried with garlic, then cooked in a rice cooker with stock, preferably stock from the boiled chicken of this dish. The rice will have some oil to it from the chicken skin, which will keep the rice moist and delicious. It will be the most flavorful rice you'll ever taste.

A whole chicken is simply boiled with garlic and ginger. It's that simple, but I promise this chicken will have you at hello. The chicken was absolutely scrumptious, I could have just sat there all day eating one piece after another. It's also great as leftovers. With this preparation, I'd even eat the white meat. My mom also added some ikan bilis to the plate. It's Malaysian deep fried anchovies and peanuts which add a fishiness, saltiness and crunch to the dish.

Hainanese chicken rice is so simple yet the flavors are unparalleled. I think everyone should try this dish at some point in their life. If not at the hands of a Singaporean mother, then perhaps at Savoy.

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