Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chicken Rice

As Americans get ready to spend Thursday with Tom Turkey, I yearned for its little cousin a few nights ago.  Craving for that old Singapore favorite, I invited my niece to join us at dinner for home-cooked chicken rice.  In fact, her father had been the one who had imparted his cooking instructions many years ago.  His philosophy, as a student in London in the 70s, is that if you are homesick for a dish, you survive by learning how to cook it.

We Singaporeans bond over chicken rice and it is simple to prepare.  And when we return home, we make it a point to have it at least once at one of several traditional outlets:
- Boon Tong Kee
- Loy Kee 
- Wee Nam Kee
- Swee Kee
- Five Star

My brother-in-law's recipe is amazingly simple, so much so that I nickname it 'combat chicken' because it saves me from tedious food preparation and we can survive any form of homesickness for the real thing back home.

Bring a large stockpot of water to a rolling boil.  (I tend to add some salt to the water).
Clean the inside cavity of a 4 pound chicken.  Trim the chicken fat and keep aside.  Stuff the chicken with about 4 tablespoons of shredded ginger. As an option, tie the chicken as you would for roasting for even cooking.  Place the chicken in the boiling water and cook for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a saute pan.  Add the reserved chicken fat, a few slices of ginger and 3 cups of white rice grains.  Gently stir fry until the rice grains are coated with oil from the fat and begin to look translucent.  (For the health-conscious, substitute the chicken fat with canola oil.)  Transfer rice to the rice cooker.

When the chicken is done, remove from the stockpot and run the chicken under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Use the chicken stock to cook the rice,  adding enough liquid such that the top level is about one finger digit from the level of the rice.

Chop the chicken into pieces, separating the drumsticks and the wings and then cutting up the breast meat into thinner 1/2 inch slices.   Drizzle sesame oil and light soy sauce.  Garnish with cilantro, spring onions and sliced cucumber and tomato.

Serve with warm chicken rice.

Accompany with dark soy sauce, special chicken rice ginger sauce and chili sauce  (I suggest Singlong, Glory or Kee's brand).



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