I made Hainanese chicken rice last week thanks to a desperate craving. The dish is a stalwart and staple of the average food centre or hawker’s market in Singapore or West Malaysia, but practically impossible to find in North America.
Although I have discovered Penang, a restaurant chain that serves up authentic Southeast Asian Peranakan Malay and Chinese cuisine, there’s still a ten-mile gap between the place and I, via a horrendous highway. It’s only so often that I risk life and limb for a culinary yearning.
From my experience making it recently, I say with confidence that despite the simplicity of its appearance, Hainanese chicken rice is not the quickest of things to prepare in its entirety – comprising a voluptuous chicken soup, stock-infused rice, boiled yet flavoursome and tender chicken and accompanied by a gingery-chilli sauce. May not sound like much but the children and I regularly get a hankering for the stuff. Mr Diva Indoors enjoys the dish a tad less enthusiastically, as the chicken (necessarily) includes its bones.
This entry, unfortunately, isn’t about the chicken rice itself – a testament to how quickly the dish disappeared once I’d made it (greedy me and the kids!). With the relatively early dusks of late winter/early spring, it’s also been tricky photographing food in general in natural light as I am a determined low-tech photographer.
So, for now, here’s the yummy condiment. The rice will have to wait for another time!
- long, red chillies, fresh, about 8-10 (see photo)
- ginger, 1 1/2 inches worth
- garlic, about 5 cloves
- rice vinegar, as needed, approx. 1/4 cup
- sesame oil, 1 tsp
- lime juice, about 1 tbsp
- salt, 2 tsp
- sugar, 1 tsp
- chicken soup, boiling – a few tbsp
- Prepare the chillies, de-stem and chop roughly
- Skin the ginger and chop, same as the garlic
- Place chillies, ginger, garlic, lime juice, salt, sugar, vinegar in small food processor and blitz to a vivid, red sauce, with no chunky bits
- Add sesame oil and whizz again. Add a bit of the chicken soup (boiling hot)
- As Gordon Ramsay commands, ‘Taste, and taste again!’ The final result should be hot but not overpowering, tangy and gingery
- Steam a clean jam jar to sterilize it and bottle the sauce
- Should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I use it as a condiment to pep up dishes, including turkey sandwiches 😀
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