April 3, 2011

When my friend said...

his favorite dish is Hainan Chicken Rice (海南雞飯), Singapore’s national dish, I started craving the flavorful, ginger-poached chicken I tasted on Orchard Road back in Singapore. I began my research and found very similar recipes of cooking a whole chicken and using chicken fat for the rice. I love traditional cooking methods, but this time I wanted to experiment on my own. Instead of boiling the whole bird, I decided to use just the breast. Although chicken breast tends to be less tender, I wanted to showcase how delicate it could taste when poached carefully.

I love adding texture to my dishes, so I quickly sauteed sesame-cilantro crumbs to use as a dip along with sweet garlic chili sauce, ginger-scallion oil, and some homemade pickled cucumbers. I’m not quite sure if my recipe reminds people of a classic Hainan Chicken Rice, but it’s still tasty (hopefully).


4 chicken breasts

5 inch ginger, sliced
3 stalks scallions, 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup sesame seeds

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced
2 cups rice
2 cups reserved chicken poaching broth
1 1/3 cup water
1/2 t sesame oil
1 t salt

1 T rice vinegar
2 T reserved chicken poaching broth
2 t sugar
4 T Sriracha
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ginger, minced
a generous pinch of salt, to taste

¼ vegetable oil
1 t ginger, minced
1 t scallions, minced
1 t salt

1 T sesame seeds
1 T cilantro, minced
¼ cup panko crumbs


3 cucumbers, julienned
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 t white peppercorn
2 T sugar
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup water
1 t salt


Season generously with salt. Place the chicken in a large stockpot and fill with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add ginger and scallion. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low to keep a simmer. Cook for about 15-20 minutes more.

When the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Immediately lift and transfer the chicken into a bath of ice water to cool. Reserve the poaching broth for your rice and chili sauce. Remove the chicken from the ice bath.

In a sauce pan, fry ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add rice and stir to coat, cook for 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, mix well. Add 2 cups of your reserved poaching broth, add salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes more.

Blend chili sauce ingredients. Blend ginger scallion oil ingredients. Sautee panko crumbs in vegetable oil until golden. Add salt, sesame and cilantro and quickly combine. Reserve for chicken topping. Combine pickle ingredients and let sit while chicken is cooking until serving time.

Serve chicken with chicken rice, sauces, cilantro crumbs and pickled cucumber.