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So I'll talk about a recipe instead.

There's this thing I learned about from Anthony Bourdain.  The national dish of Singapore -- (Hainanese) Chicken Rice.  It's a big plate of beige and consists of boiled chicken and rice.  Behold:

It probably sounds dreadful and boring and bland and gross, but there - alas - you would be wrong.  Aside from how relatively healthy a meal it is, it's also one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted.  It makes the house smell like heaven, and it's also economical -- you use the chicken simmering liquid to cook the rice, and as is popular in many neighboring countries, as a little side of soup as well.

The basic preparation is dead easy, but the trick is cooking the chicken so it remains tender and juicy (almost silky), and as anyone who's boiled a chicken breast will tell you, that's a high-wire act.  I finally got it right last time, and I'm going to do it again tonight, because it's nearly addictive.  The original recipe calls for cooking a whole chicken, but that's a bit much even for me.

Hainanese Chicken Rice (low-fat version)

Two nice-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
32 oz. low-fat chicken stock
1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped in halves
1 3" chunk ginger, rough-chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup Thai jasmine rice
1 small shallot
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp Hainanese Chicken Rice seasoning paste (if you can get it - it's optional)
Dipping sauces: Chinese dark soy, Thai chile/garlic paste

I got the seasoning paste from Super H in Niles (Waukegan/Oakton) in their Thai section.  It's not necessary, but it adds a nice depth of flavor.  I pour off the extra oil on top when I open the jar, because it's not necessary.

Pour the stock into a pot. Add the chicken breasts, rough-chopped scallions, rough-chopped ginger and garlic.  Bring to just below a simmer -- no more than 170-175  degrees, and check it every few minutes to make sure the stock is barely moving and the temperature is constant below 180.  (The closer it gets to boiling the tougher the chicken will be.  Even if it only reaches that temperature for a minute or less, the chicken likely will be rubbery.)  After about 20 minutes, test the chicken's core temperature.  Once it reaches 165-170, remove it immediately from the stock and plunge it into ice water.  Let it sit for 5 minutes in the icewater and then remove to the countertop.  Let sit until you're ready to serve.

When both breasts are done, throw the shallot - finely diced - into a small pot with the oil and sautee for about 2-3 minutes, until the shallots start taking on a little color.  Add the rice and stir for another minute or two until the rice starts to turn opaque and a few grains start to pop.  Add 2 cups of the cooking liquid from the chicken, stir, bring to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Stir occasionally, as the rice can get a little sticky and clumpy.  It should be done in about 15-20 minutes.

Slice the chicken across the grain and serve with a scoop of the rice, some sliced raw cucumbers, and the two traditional dipping sauces --  dark soy and the vinagery garlic/chile paste.  You can get them in the Asian section of almost any decent grocery store.

Serves 2 (the cook, and whoever will be eternally in the cook's debt).
jood: (Default)
Shortly after we moved I realized I couldn't find the Word file for the cookbook I'd written. Copy on my PC: missing. Online archived copies on my web server: gone. Backup CDs: nowhere. I was distraught.

Two nights ago, looking for some audiobooks to listen to in the car, I found a copy. It is a very old (probably first) edition, and it's hard copy only, but it lives. Most of my home-developed recipes have been recovered. It even has some hand-written edits in it.


Revisions may start anew!


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August 2010

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