Tuesday, February 26, 2008

singapore-inspired chicken rice

I wasn't going to blog about the dinner I made last night. The main reason is that it was such a simple, utterly uninteresting-looking dish that I just didn't file it in my mental drawer for "Dishes to Blog About". But after we ate...and ate, and ate, and kept talking about it, I realized that it was actually such an awesome dish that I couldn't possibly keep it from you.

It was sort of my easy weeknight take on traditional Hainanese Singapore Chicken Rice, the national dish of Singapore. This is true homestyle cooking, and is simply boiled chicken with what some describe as "oily rice", rice that is cooked in chicken stock. The authentic way to make the dish apparently involves not only boiling the whole chicken in pork and chicken stock, but making a completely separate stock for cooking the rice. I don't know why exactly, but I wasn't going to boil a whole chicken on a Monday night anyway, so I just bought a carton of broth. In order to get the oily quality and more intense chicken-y flavor, I seared chicken thighs in a touch of oil first, then removed them from the pot and sauteed the ginger, scallions and the uncooked rice in that chicken fat before adding the broth and bringing to a boil. It did the trick. The rice was just the right amount of oily - not greasy like fried rice - and the flavor was spectacular. After the rice came to a boil, I returned the chicken to the pot, resting atop the rice, then lowered to a simmer and covered it for about 20 minutes, until the rice was tender and the chicken super juicy. I was all ready to have dipping sauces on the side - as they do in Singapore - like chili sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, etc., but there was so much flavor just as it was that I didn't even bother. Ah, comfort food. Recipe after the jump:

4 chicken thighs, with skin
2 1/2 cups uncooked Jasmine rice
4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 3-inch portion of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and pat dry the chicken thighs, then salt and pepper liberally. In a large saucepan, heat the oil on high, then add the chicken thighs skin side down to sear until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside. You only need 3 or 4 tablespoons of fat in the pan, so if the chicken gave up much more fat, you can drain some off. To the fat in the pan, add the sliced scallions and ginger and saute for a couple of minutes to bring out the fragrance. Add the uncooked rice and saute another minute until the grains are coated with the oil. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. When it boils, add the sesame oil, stir the rice well, then lower to a simmer and add the chicken thighs back to the pot, laying atop the rice. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the rice is cooked through. Top with additional chopped scallions.


Justin Voccola said...

Wow, this sounds really good.

David said...

That sounds like the really good Singapore Chicken Rice. Thanks for sharing it.