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.

Lau Pa Sat – Satay Street of Singapore

The hawker centre at Lau Pa Sat(old market) in the middle of Singapore’s CBD is situated in the original wet market building featuring beautiful colonial architecture. The original structure was relocated to this spot at 18 Raffles Quay from the waterfront in 1894 and a stunning clock tower which still chimes in the hour was added.

Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market
Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

Now the building is home to a thriving hawker’s centre filled to the brim with stalls featuring cuisines from all over Asia and other parts of the world. Apparently at lunchtime all the local office workers flock to the centre for lunch.

Each evening the street in front of the Centre transforms hastily into what is know as Singapore’s Satay Street with stall after stall specialising in different styles of satay. The smoke from the charcoal fires fills the air with the it restive bbq aroma of satys cooking and plastic tables and chairs quickly become occupied with diners – locals and tourists alike!

A good tip is to sit towards the back of the street away from the cooking fires to avoid rhe smoke getting in your eyes and clothes. Also take wet wipes or extra napkins to avoid getting harassed by passing salespeople. We chose to eat at Stalls #7&8 which comes highly recommended. Table service is provided by waiters attached to each of the stalls. Servings are chosen by the number of sticks of satay and the mix of types you would like. We went for the mix of prawn, chicken, beef and mutton. Menus from other stalls in the hawker’s centre are also available so we ordered some rice and klankung to add a bit of green to our dinner.

Jugs of cold Tiger beer are $GD20 and the way to go if there are a few of you dining.

Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore
Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore

The satays arrive without fanfare but are some of the most delicious I have tasted. The spice mix on the prawn satays is especially good. The taste of the charcoal grilled meat With a delicious satay sauce is quintessially south-East asia.

Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the cbar coal grill with spicy satay sauce.
Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the char coal grill with spicy satay sauce.

A great way to get a quick, tasty and atmospheric dinner, in the midst of downtown Singapore, maybe before a visit to some of the amazing rooftop bars like One Altitude nearby?

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.

Top Thai with views in Singapore

We are in Singapore visiting our son Nick who has been posted here for work since earlier this year. Now living the life of an ex-pat, Nick is being a great tour guide during our stay. Last night we went down for a walk along Boat Quay along the river. The Quay is a bustling tourist destination with a range of restaurants from Lebanese and French to Indian and Singapore Seafood. We chose Lanna Thai for dinner after drinks at the Red Spot Brewery further down the Quay.

Clean and orderly, Lanna Thai at Boat Quay in Singapore
Clean and orderly, Lanna Thai at Boat Quay in Singapore

We were greeted warmly by the waiter and given a lovely table right on the riverside with views of the stunning Marina Bay Sands building, Fullerton Hotel and passing boats in the background. After ordering drinks, which are expensive, we decided to start with some Thai standards – mix satay of chicken, beef and mutton and Thai fishcakes. The satays came with a delicious satay sauce in which you could taste the freshly roasted and crushed peanuts. The Thai fishcakes were super authentic achieving that elastic texture and lightnness that only Thai cooks seem to know how to get.

Thai green chicken curry and Roast Boneless Duck at Lanna Thai
Thai green chicken curry and Roast Boneless Duck at Lanna Thai

Succulent and tender roast boneless pork
Succulent and tender roast boneless pork

For mains we chose Butter Grilled Prawns in Claypot, Thai Green Chicken Curry and Roast Boneless Duck. I ordered Nam Prik(fresh sliced chilli in fish sauce) as a side sauce to add that extra kick of spice. The food was so surprisingly good for what looks like a tourist trap restaurant, I forgot to take photos until we were almost done. Certainly the grilled king prawns with their sweet, succulent meat deliciously enhanced with a butter sauce were demolished quickly as was the meltingly tender boneless duck.

Lanna Thai Green Chicken Curry, the chicken was thinly sliced to absorb the flavours from the delicious cocnut curry sauce. Thai basil., Apple and pea eggplant and bamboos shoots featured in curry too.
Lanna Thai Green Chicken Curry, the chicken was thinly sliced to absorb the flavours from the delicious cocnut curry sauce. Thai basil., Apple and pea eggplant and bamboos shoots featured in curry too.

imageThe Thai Green Chicken Curry was spiced exactly right with a finely balanced cocnut curry sauce and authentic vegetables such as apple and pea eggplants, bamboos shoots, and Thai basil.
Prices are calibrated for tourists so expect to pay $70-80 per head depending on how many you drinks you have! (Wine of course is as with much of Asia at silly prices for silly brands, so beer and spirits are the go!)
Not usually a fan of tourist area restaurants, I was very pleasantly surprised by the authenticity and quality of the food at Lanna Thai and would recommend a visit if you are heading to Boat Quay.

All that was left of the Sweet king prawns cooked in an indulgent butter sauce.
All that was left of the Sweet king prawns cooked in an indulgent butter sauce.