Hainan Chicken Rice

Today I cooked Hainanese Chicken Rice.  It’s the one elaborate dish that I can actually cook (my Dad taught me how to make it), and it’s relatively simple to do.  Well, you can amp up the difficulty by doing certain things.  Today, I went about as elaborate as I could – maybe a “low-moderate” on the difficulty scale.

I made this dish for the Institute, which is the house name for the 6 guys I’m staying with here in Waterloo.  I’ve been staying with them for two weeks now (on their couch, which is literally the most comfortable sleeping setup I have ever experienced in my life), and so this is my way of saying “thanks” 😛  At the time of writing, only one of them has been home to try it so far, but I’m already pretty sure that I will have enjoyed this meal more than they will 😀

I’m too lazy to type up a recipe-type description, but this is the essence of my Dad’s version of Hainanese Chicken Rice:

  • You take a whole chicken, rinse it, dry it, and rub it down with salt.  Then you put it in a pot of boiling water, turn off the heat and cover, and then let it sit for 45-60 minutes.
  • In the meantime, you chop up big slices of tomato, slice up a cucumber, and use them to garnish the plates.
  • When the chicken is almost done cooking, you can scoop up the soup and use that to cook the rice (instead of putting water in your rice cooker, you just put soup instead).  You can also mince/dice up some ginger and garlic and put that in with the rice before it cooks.  It probably tastes way better if you fry it a bit first, and THEN put it in with the rice (I did not do this).
  • Take the chicken out of the soup, dump it in a pot of cold water to make the skin and meat a certain texture or something.  Anyhoo, then you can start tearing meat off the chicken or carving it or whatever
    • I never chop up the chicken neatly like how Hainanese chicken rice is usual served.  Also, I like to serve/eat the meat hot, which is unorthodox.  Both methods were passed down from my Dad in his version.
  • You can “paint” the chicken with a sesame oil/soy sauce mixture, first.  This time, I actually tore the meat apart first, put it on the garnished plates and just drizzled/splattered the sauce mixture over it a bit.  Then I provided the sauce mixture on the side in a bowl, too, because I didn’t put too much on the chicken.  I think this method is easier than “painting” the chicken.
  • This time, I had some soft tofu from Woody and so I sliced it up on the side and put some slices in with my steaming, hot bowl of soup.  Mmm.  OH, I almost forgot.  You should slice up some spring onions (onion greens?) to garnish your soup with (after you serve it).  I forgot to actually put some in my soup, even though I chopped it up and put it in its own bowl.  Just like how I forgot to mention it here.

Anyways, I think this might be my favorite food of all time.  Maybe even more than Singapore Laksa.  But I like this version (my Dad’s) way better than what they serve in restaurants.  This version takes me back to memories of my home, with my family, and I still have the same response to it every time – I feel like shoveling big mouthfuls of everything down.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.  I think I can eat at least 1.5x – 2x the amount I regularly eat for dinner when I’m having this.  It’s appetite conducive.

MMMmmmmm.  Now I feel like eating ice cream.

Oh, and now I’m back from driving the Institute boys back from BMH/Waterloo (after Summit).  Time to eat!