Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Food Adventures at Home: Singapore Swing with Hainanese Chicken


Hainanese Chicken, though it may have originated in mainland China, is a dish that has become associated with Singapore, which has a sizable Hainan Chinese community. The dish though appears throughout Southeast Asia and can be found in Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. 

My sister has always wanted to prepare the dish, as she is driven by an inexplicable to prepare chicken in the Hainanese way. Also, at the time, our kitchen stores had an abundance of garlic which she really wanted to use.

The dish requires a whole chicken, rice, herbs and spices. She deviates from the traditional Southeast Asian style by using brown rice instead of white. Before anything else, she detoxifies the chicken by salt on it. She then stuffed the dressed fowl with herbs and spices and boiled it in water seasoned with some salt and pepper. Once the chicken is cooked she used the stock to cook the rice and liberally added ginger and garlic.

My sister is a budding cook, and often my parents and I are the beneficiaries of her sudden bursts of inspiration. She seldom does a dish twice, preferring to expand her horizons by cooking new dishes that she gets from watching cooking shows on the internet or on television. For this dish, her inspiration was in preparing some healthy fare for us. The chicken is steamed with no cooking oil but its own rendered fat. The rice though was stir-fried before steaming to give it maximum flavor.

I must say it was indeed a tasty meal. The healthy preparation is a bonus. She used a lot less salt than most restaurants. From one chicken and some rice she made a three course meal. Suffice to say, it was a hit. There weren't any leftovers to keep.