Singapore-style Poached Chicken and Chicken Rice

This recipe is inspired by the delicious chicken rice we had at Loy Kee Restaurant in Singapore recently. It seemed to me that it couldn’t be that difficult to replicate the tender and delicious poached chicken at home so I did a bit of reading and compared a number of recipes to come up with this easy to make version. Whist there are few different components involved if you want to have an authentic chicken rice meal with sauces and bok choy, none of it is difficult or complicated.

I also found that the leftover chicken was delicious for a shredded spicy chicken salad like the one we made at Spirit House Cooking School when we visited Yandina, Queensland about  a year ago. You can find my version here Simple shredded chicken salad

In fact, I would now use this method to make delicious poached chicken just on it’s own to use in chicken salads and/or sandwiches. You could vary the poaching ingredients, if you didn’t want the Asian ginger, garlic and spring onion flavour, but I love it.  Try it and I’m sure you’ll agree.

I have listed the recipes for each component separately below so you can see how easy just the poached chicken is to make.

For Chicken Rice and all accompaniments
Prep time: 25 minutes  Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours 

Poached Chicken
Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour
1 whole organic chicken (about 1.5kg), at room temperature
7 whole cloves garlic
4 thick slices ginger
4 spring onions, green leafy tops reserved for stock
2.5 litres water or chicken stock

Chicken Dressing:
Asian: 1 tbspn sesame oil and 2 tbspns soy sauce
Or Western: 1 tbspn olive oil mixed with 2 tbspn chicken stock

Method
Remove any fat from the cavity of the chicken and it’s extremities. Reserve the fat.
Pound 2 cloves of garlic with white part of spring onions and 1/2 tspn salt to form a paste.
Wipe the inside of the chicken dry with kitchen paper, then rub garlic and spring onion paste well all over the inside of the chicken
Put the chicken in a large stock pot, add rest of garlic, ginger, half reserved spring onion tops
Cover with water or stock and bring to slow rolling boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat so water is steaming well, but not bubbling.
Keep the heat at this level for 20 minutes without covering the pot. During this stage lift the chicken carefully once or twice just out of the poaching liquid, and then back in, to allow the water inside the chicken to drain out and be replaced with warmer liquid to ensure the chicken cooks from inside out as well.

Chicken poaching in stock for delicious Hainanese style chicken rice
Chicken poaching in stock for delicious Hainanese style chicken rice

Then turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the chicken to steep in the stock for 30 minutes, then lift out the chicken, reserving the rest of the stock.
Brush the chicken skin with your preferred dressing (see above) and wrap with plastic wrap until required for serving. The chicken should be cooked very lightly, and be beautifully pale and with a transparent looking skin. Best served warm rather than hot.

Poached chicken sliced chinese style
Poached chicken sliced chinese style

Chicken Fat Oil:
Rider: This is definitely an option and I was initially very suspicious of this step but I can now see after making it and using it in the chicken rice the value it adds. If you think this is too much like heart attack material then just use 1 tbspn of vegetable oil to the rice when you are cooking it.

Put the reserved chicken fat in a small saucepan. (You don’t need much.)Cook over very low heat for about 1 hour while the chicken is poaching until the liquid fat renders away. Strain the fat pieces from the “oil” or liquid fat keeping the oil for the rice.

Rendering chicken fat to make chicken “oil”

Chicken Rice
Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
1 tbsp chicken fat oil or vegetable oil
1.5 cups jasmine rice
2 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger chopped
1.25 litres of hot chicken stock
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Heat 1 tbsp of the chicken fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and remaining 2 slices of ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the rice and toss until well coated and turning translucent.  Add 1.25 litres of the reserved chicken stock, the salt and soy sauce. Cook in a rice cooker or simmer until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed. You might need to add extra chicken stock if using latter method.

Accompaniments:
Garnish for chicken: coriander sprigs, thinly sliced cucumber and spring onions sliced diagonally

Chilli Sauce
6 red birds-eye chillies
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbspn hot chicken stock
To make the chilli sauce, combine chillies, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt in a mortar and pound to a paste. Add the lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of hot chicken stock and pound again.

Spring onion and ginger sauce
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tspn sesame oil
1 tbspn hot chicken stock
Add the spring onion, ginger and salt to a heatproof mortar and pound until a paste forms. Add sesame oil and chicken stock and mix well.

Bok choy – chop 1 small bunch bok choy, steam bok choy or microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Serve with light soy sauce drizzled over the top.

Sweet soy sauce – kecap manis or sweet sauce as an accompaniment is traditional to Singapore and Malaysia and Singapore delicious with the chicken rice.

Chicken Broth – strain remaining chicken stock through a fine sieve and reheat. Add spring onions and splash of soy sauce to enhance flavour.

Slice the chicken and garnish. Serve with the rice, condiments, broth and garnishes. Serves 4 or 2 with great leftovers.

Taco Tuesday: Baja Fish Tacos

I’ve been using cornmeal to coat fish for shallow, light frying and/grilling more recently and find it gives the fish a nice crispy coating that is lighter than breadcrumbs. This fish taco recipe from http://www.fabulousfaresisters.com (thank you) uses the same technique and makes for a quick, tasty and easy weekday dinner. We use flathead fillets, skip the cheese and ranch sauce, but add Old El Paso jalapeños.

Fabulous Fare Sisters

Baja Fish Tacos Baja Fish Tacos

I’ve read that about fifty years ago, somewhere in Baja California someone created what is generally considered to be the original Baja fish taco.  This tasty taco traditionally consists of a lightly battered mild white fish that is deep-fried, then served in a corn tortilla with shredded cabbage, a sour-cream- or mayonnaise-based sauce, a bit of salsa, and a squeeze of lime. I’ve changed the original just a bit in this recipe – using a cornmeal crust and using only a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil instead of deep-frying the fish. I tossed the shredded cabbage in the mayo-sour cream concoction along with some fresh cilantro and the zest and juice of a lime. The flavor combination is amazing! I hope you give these a try on your next Taco Tuesday!

Baja Fish Tacos

4 fresh cod or tilapia fillets
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1…

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Best Chicken Rice at Loy Kee, Singapore

After extensive research into where to get the best chicken rice in Singapore, we settled on Loy Kee in Balestier Road. Established in 1953, Loy Kee has been dishing up the famed Hainan chicken rice for more than sixty years to loyal fans. A bonus is that Loy Kee opens at 9.30am so it’s perfect for a late breakfast or brunch.

Best chicken rice served up in restaurant surrounds at Loy Kee
Best chicken rice served up in restaurant surrounds at Loy Kee

It is also a great option if you don’t feel like eating at a Hawker’s Centre with table service, menus and atmospheric surrounds.
The menu features special sets with bok Choy, beautiful satiny chicken broth, 3 delicious sauces – ginger, light chilli and soy, the chicken rice itself and either poached or roast chicken. We chose to try both versions of chicken to taste the contrast and loved both.

Poached chicken special set with delicious sauces and bok choy
Poached chicken special set with delicious sauces and bok choy

The poached chicken was the most silky and tender I have ever eaten and the chicken rice was perfectly cooked and flavoured with chickeny goodness. The roast chicken was also delicious but slightly drier than the poached version, with a layer of crispy roasted chicken skin adding texture.

Roasted Hainanese chicken with crispy skin adding rexture and flavour
Roasted Hainanese chicken with crispy skin adding rexture and flavour

Accompanied with a big cup of chinese tea, this was one of the best meals we had on our quick but fun trip to Singapore. I was very motivated by this eating experience so check out my recipe for my Singapore style poached chicken and chicken rice.

Carrot cake and more at Zion Rd Hawker Centre, Singapore

We had heard about carrot cake from our son Nick who is currently living in Singapore. This is not carrot cake as we know it but a pancake made with diced daikon radish, flour, scallions/spring onion cooked in plain, sweet or savoury style and can be made into an omelette when fried with eggs.

Intrigued by this description we went to the Zion Road Hawker Centre which claims one of the best carrot cake stalls. Situated alongside the river at the end of Zion Road, in River Valley, this food centre is a smaller, spotlessly clean traditional eating venue with about 25 stalls. On Saturday morning when we visited the centre was filled with locals enjoying early lunch.

As with most hawker centres, each stall has a speciality which it is usually renowned amongst locals for. We headed directly to the Lau Goh carrot cake stall, quickly followed by the stall for Chicken Rice and Bak Kut Teh(pork rib broth). Friendly stall holders helped us with our orders and soon we were tucking in to lunch.

The Carrot Cake which is more like a radish scramble was a mixture of “white” without kecap manis, “dark” which has the sweetness of kecap manis and some scrambled with egg. Somehow the various textures and flavours combine to produce a delicious outcome which is worthy of it’s reputation.

Carrot cake Singapore style - radish, onion, flour steamed then fried and scrambled with eggs.
Carrot cake Singapore style – radish, onion, flour steamed then fried and scrambled with eggs.

I was surprised to see the chicken rice served with the sweet, salty kecap manis and slightly chilli sauce poured over the top of the sliced poached chicken and rice, garnished with spring onions and cucumber. The sauce had been absorbed by the rice and chicken and to my taste the flavours of each of the elements in this famous dish were not as distinct. Having said that the combined version was tasty and still ticked all the comfort food boxes. The clear, chicken broth accompanying heightened the flavours of the dish whilst also acting like a palate cleanser.

Zion Road Hawker Chicken rice with kecap manis sauce and spring onions
Zion Road Hawker Chicken rice with kecap manis sauce and spring onions

The Bak Kut Teh is another famous Singapore/Malay soup with each country boasting distinct versions. It is a slow cooked pork rib broth served with sides of rice, kecap manis with fresh chilli and green tea. This version had a mixture of herbs, whole cloves of garlic in their skins, and a seaweed textured green fern in it. Spicy with white peppercorns and with a hint of star anise with tender pork falling off the bone, this Bak Kut Teh was fresh and fulfilling. For added flavour we burst open the super soft garlic and mixed it through the broth!

Bak Kut Teh - Singapore  Pork rib soup with garlic and herbs
Bak Kut Teh – Singapore
Pork rib soup with garlic and herbs

All in all our visit to this authentic, local Hawker centre was fun, delicious and very, very cheap. Hanging out with local residents having their Saturday lunch in relatively peaceful surrounds was also a nice way to get an insight into the lives of real Singaporeans.

Healthy Chicken and zucchini meatballs

These chicken and zucchini meatballs are quick and easy, light, fluffy and healthy. They can be teamed up with a spicy tomato sauce, wrapped in a flatbread with salad or enjoyed as a canapé with a dipping sauce of your choice.

Prep time: 25 minutes  Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients
400g chicken mince
2 small zucchini peeled and grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp cummin powder
2 red chillies very finely diced, seeds removed
1.5 tsp ginger and garlic crushed
Handful coriander chopped
4 spring onions white and green parts finely chopped
1/2 tsp Salt

2 small zuchinni peeled and grated for chicken and zuchinni meatballs
2 small zuchinni peeled and grated for chicken and zuchinni meatballs

Method
Pre-heat oven to 150’degrees celcius
Line a baking tray with baking paper
Mix all ingredients and chill in fridge for 15 minutes
Form meatballs and place on baking tray

Chicken and zuchinni meatballs on baking paper ready for oven
Chicken and zuchinni meatballs on baking paper ready for oven

Cook until golden for 20-25?minutes
Serve with dip and wedges of lemon
Makes about 15-20 meatballs

Red Lentil Tarka Dhal with turmeric and ginger

Most Indian meals should be accompanied by a Dhal – an almost souplike side dish which can be made from a number of different types of lentils. Dhal is an absolute must to accompany South Indian vegetarian meals adding essential proteins. My version is quick and easy, using red lentils and the flavours featured are inspired by the dhals of Kerala and other parts of South India. Tarka dhal refers to the process of adding a Tarka(seasoned oil dressing with onions, tomatoes and spices) to the boiled lentils which adds flavour and depth to the sauce. Unlike most recipes I prefer to “cook” the boiled lentils in the Tarka at the end to allow the flavours to permeate the whole dish. For a richer and creamier consistency that is truly South Indian, coconut cream can be added at the end or else to make it sinfully delicious a knob of butter. Dhal keeps well in the fridge and can be successfully frozen and reheated. Leftovers are also great on toast.

Red lentils, ginger, garlic,, onion tomatoes form the basis of the ingredients for Tarka dhal.
Red lentils, ginger, garlic,, onion tomatoes form the basis of the ingredients for Tarka dhal.

Prep time:5 minutes Cooking time:25 minutes
Ingredients:
For Boiled lentils
3/4 cup red lentils
3 cups water
4-5cm knob of ginger peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt
For Tarka
1/2 onion sliced finely
1/2 tomato chopped into small pieces
1 tspn fresh ginger and garlic ground into paste (2 small cloves garlic and equivalent amount ginger)
2-3 dried red chillies
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 tspn cummin seeds
Handful curry leaves
1 stick cinnamon bark
2 tspns vegetable oil
Coriander chopped to garnish
Optional: knob of butter or 1/4 cup coconut cream

Method
Bring water to boil in small but deep pot or saucepan
Add knob of ginger, turmeric and salt
Add lentils stirring initially so the don’t stick to bottom
Reduce heat and cook on a low rolling boil for about 20 minutes or until lentils become soft and create a souplike consistency.
Add water in half cup measures as you go to allow for this consistency to be achieved without the mixture sticking or burning.

Red lentils on a rolling boil in pot for Tarka dhal
Red lentils on a rolling boil in pot for Tarka dhal

In a seperate deep non-stick frying pan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat, then add cinnamon stick, dried chillies, cummin seeds and curry leaves to flavour the oil ensuring spices don’t burn.
Add onions and cook over low heat until translucent for about 5 minutes, then add black mustard seeds.
Fry mustard seeds with onions and other spices for 1 minute and then add tomatoes, ground ginger and garlic.
Cook for another 5-8 minutes stirring regularly until tomatoes have broken down and slightly caramelised. Turn off heat.
Flavouring the oil with cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, dried chillies and curry leaves for Tarka Dhal
Flavouring the oil with cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, dried chillies and curry leaves for Tarka Dhal

When lentils have boiled, reheat Tarka on medium heat in the frying pan, and then carefully pour boiled lentils into the seasoned oil, spices and onions and bring to a simmer to allow flavours to permeate the dhal.
Add extra butter or coconut cream at this point if you are using.
Garnish with coriander and serve.

Serves 4-6 as an accompaniment