Kung Hei Fat Choi!

For today’s Sunday Lunch Project, it’s a double celebration of Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day. I chose a dish that I’ve seen on the Asian Food Channel and heard about from FB friends who went to Singapore.  At first glance, Hainanese Chicken Rice looked so simple and nothing seems fancy about it. I tend to see it as something similar to our own tinola.  But what makes it different from any chicken-with-broth-dish was the sauces and inclusion of rice in the cooking process.

I also had reservations about serving chicken on New Year’s Day due to old wives tales of “isang-kahig-isang tuka.”  However, I looked up in the Internet about such superstitions; and found out that the Chinese do commonly serve chicken (and fish) during New Year’s festivities (info source: wikipedia). Yay!

Several Southeast Asian countries have their own version of Chicken Rice: Singaporean, Malaysian, and Thai.  I am not sure what version I used.  All I want was the one with the three sauces version.

Why the 3 sauces version? I guess to liven it up. I am well-aware that Chicken Rice is a dish best served in a restaurant which specializes in this recipe instead of cooking it yourself. That’s because they already have a broth that has been used over and over to boil chickens throughout the day (or days) so theirs is naturally more flavorful compared to the one you cook at home. But what the hey, I want to try it anyway. Besides, there are no chicken rice restaurants here so far.  And even if my attempt may taste bland, I still have the three intriguing sauces to salvage it…

No, it’s not cheating!: I just had to try what I call my kitchen helpers (at left) – ready made pastes and powders for convenience and flavor enhancement.  ;D

There were many versions on the web on how to prepare it. I used a combination of 3 recipes (see links below). One version preferred to steam the chicken while another goes for the classic way which is to boil it.  I chose the latter. I also placed salt, ginger, garlic and leeks in the chicken’s cavity before boiling it.

No such thing as shallots in our groceries here – been wondering why for a long time.  So – leeks or spring onions (Right)?  Seriously, what’s the difference if I use one of these instead of shallots?  Heck… Just use both! >: (

After boiling the chicken for 30 minutes, I placed it in a basin of cold water with ice to tighten the skin. But, bummer, the skin got torn anyway…

I always liked the way Chinese chefs carve their cooked chicken and duck dishes, and the way they present them.  I mean, really. Everyone should know this – it’s simple, neat, and practical. I had to try it out, too so I learned about the art of carving poultry through this link.

The Hainanese chicken platter, garnished with chopped spring onions.

I used leftover broth for soup – adding salt, pepper, and spring onions. Then, I prepared the three sauces: (1) sesame oil/dark soy, (2) chili/garlic sauce, and (3) ginger/leeks sauce.  And I “risottoed” the rice in sesame oil, garlic, and ginger before boiling it using the chicken broth.  And here is the finished product:

Hainanese Chicken Rice (SLP#5) with three sauces for the Lunar New Year’s Day 2010. Garnished with tomatoes and cucumber slices.

So. Was my Hainanese Chicken Rice a hit or a miss?

Answer: I was afraid that a home-cooked chicken rice would turn out bland as some people say it would. And uncooked, like, you know – bloody. But I guess it wasn’t bad for a first timer.  It was almost a hit, I should say. For me, it was getting there, then it didn’t somehow fully ‘arrive,’ like something was still amiss. It was fun to prepare (and photographs well, too) yet I think I could do better and am looking forward to further experiment with the sauces by ditching the suggestions and trust my own instincts next time.  Of all the sauces though,  my favorite was the ginger sauce – I never liked ginger before but nowadays, I’m lovin’ it! 🙂

My Sunday Lunch Project links:
Sunday Lunch Project #5: Goi Buoi
Sunday Lunch Project #4: Simple Beef Pochero
Sunday Lunch Project #3: My Dad’s Karimbuaya Chicken
Sunday Lunch Project #2: Yakiniku

~~~~~~~ sunlupro

Dish info source: wikipedia

Recipe sources: about.com, christinesrecipes, hungry-kittens