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.

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.

Thai Chicken Soup with rice (Khao Tom Gai)

Adrian has been down and out with the flu – so this morning I promised him the fix all, hearty, spicy Thai chicken Soup with rice that is part congee, part soup. This version has helped our family through many episodes of cold and flu. Add fresh chilli as a garnish along with coriander and chopped spring onions and your sinuses will feel a lot clearer by the time you finish the first bowl. The rice and chicken add nourishment and the stock has a silky texture from the rice being cooked in it.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
Ingredients
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 litre chicken stock
1 litre water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger finely sliced
2 chicken thigh fillets chopped into bite size pieces
1 onion finely diced
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Garnish: fresh red chillies, coriander and spring onions

Method
Wash rice and rinse several times
Bring water and chicken stock to boil and then add rice
Simmer for about 20 minutes on a rolling boil until rice is of almost a porridge consistency, adding more water to ensure there is plenty of rice stock
In a seperate large pot, heat vegetable oil then add ginger, garlic and onions and stir fry over medium heat until onion is translucent and there is a bit of caramelisation starting
Add chicken, pepper and fish sauce and stir fry until chicken is cooked about 15 minutes adding some of the rice stock to stop sticking or burning if necessary
(I put the rice on about 10 minutes before cooking the chicken)
Transfer rice and rice stock into pot with chicken and simmer together for 5 minutes until flavours meld together
Garnish and serve in bowls with extra fish sauce added if needed.
Have extra chilli and tissues on hand to help really clear those sinuses.

Before garnish Thai Chicken soup with rice
Before garnish Thai Chicken soup with rice