Each dish has its own story. What tale might the Hainanese Chicken Rice be telling us?
This dish originated from Hainan province, Southern China, and was adapted from the Hainanese recipe, Wenchang chicken, which was one of the essential Hainan dishes of the Qin Dynasty. In Malaysia, Hainanese Chicken Rice or “nasi ayam”, is known as one of the most famous dishes of Malaysian Chinese culture. It is also popular street food, especially in Ipoh, as it is the center of Hainanese immigration.
There are many variations of Chicken Rice served in Malaysia. A unique differentiation here would be the Common Chicken Rice and the Malacca Chicken Rice, also known as “Chicken Rice Balls”. The difference between these two dishes would be the presentation. The Common Chicken Rice is served with fragrant oily rice, chicken, and garnished with cucumbers. The Chicken Rice Balls (not literally a ball of chicken in rice), has its rice in the shape of a ball rather than in a bowl. These rice balls are then served alongside a plate of chopped chicken.
Yum… Laparlah…–I’m hungry. Aren’t you? Let’s talk about how you can cook up yourself a plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice. This dish is made up of 4 main components:
- Chili Dipping Sauce / Ginger Garlic Sauce
- Soup (optional)
- Clean the chicken. Rub salt all over the chicken, getting rid of any loose skin.
- Once done, proceed to rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry.
- Remove excess fat from chicken and set aside for later.
- Generously season the chicken with salt. Stuff it with ginger slices and scallions.
- Place the chicken in a large stockpot (cover with cold water by 1 inch) and season with salt to taste.
- Bring to boil over high heat then immediately reduce the heat to low (maintain the simmer).
- Cover and leave it to cook for approx. 30minutes.
- Remove chicken from pot, and transfer it to an ice bath for 5minutes. This keeps the chicken skin springy.
- Once cooled, pat the chicken dry and rub it with sesame oil to prevent it from drying out.
- In a large wok, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and salt. Fry for about 10minutes. This will be the sauce for your chicken.
- Add the rice into the remaining fried garlic and stir to coat. Steam it for about an hour.
- Plate it with cucumbers as a garnish, and you’re done!
Too lazy to cook? No worries! A plate of chicken rice can be found anywhere in Ipoh!