In our family it has to be the fabulous Hainan Chicken.
It is a dish that originates from Hainan Island in the south of China. It was later taken to Singapore by immigrants and has become a classic there also.
Essentially it is poached chook served with the broth and rice (which MUST be cooked using the stock the chook was cooked in) and some sauce accompaniments. These vary according to each cook. I ALWAYS serve it with a spring onion and ginger sauce and some chilli for Hubby G and I (who are chilli tragics from way back!!- our personal fave is Chiu Chow chilli oil). I also like to make a Szechuan cucumber pickle and a really tasty szechuan egpplant dish that I think complements it wonderfully. When I go "all out" I also serve it with a favourite silken tofu dish and home made dumplings. Such a lovely mixture of tastes and textures to be enjoyed. It is starting to sound complicated now but I assure you if you start with just the poached chook- you will be laughing at it's simplicity!
The totally magic thing about this dish is that each person at your dining table can assemble it however they like and still be eating something incredibly nutritious, tasty and fun to eat. It is definitely one of those dishes that adheres to the "keep the cooking simple" rule! Gotta love that when you are a busy mama!
How many dishes are there really that can happily cater for a family of seven where everyone can eat and enjoy- I can't think of too many other meals at our place that can cater for all the differing palates from our 1yo all the way to the top! And as the kids are getting older they are loving the side dishes more and more.
Which is great! When they were younger it was more like "Oooo what's that- I don't like it, that looks disgusting" as it is served. And as a mum you do everything in your power not to pour the entire contents over their head before sending them to bed without dinner! They don't say that anymore.......I am happy to say I have trained (read scared) them out of it! The statement du jour is - "thanks for making that, I might try it next time"!!!! I have to laugh secretly....
Tonight a special friend is joining us for Dinner and I hope that like many others before her it will become a Gourmet Girlfriend favourite!
I will give you my unique recipe and I hope you try it with your family and it becomes one of your favourites too.
What you will need to make "GOURMET GIRLFRIEND'S HAINAN CHICKEN":
- 1 Free range chook
- 1 bunch spring onions
- 1 big bulb of ginger
- Light soy sauce (*please see note at end of recipe)
- Sesame Oil
- Canola Oil
- Jasmine Rice
- Slice about 10 x 1cm slices of ginger and take about 3-4 whole spring onions (I tie these in a knot to help extract flavour) and place at bottom of pot.
- Place the chook (whole) into a large pot.
- Add water to cover.
- Add 1/4 cup of light soy.
- Turn on and allow to come to the boil. When boiling turn down to simmer for 30 mins. Then turn off and allow to stand in pot for another 20 minutes. Check the seasoning and add salt if required.
- While the chook is standing- cook your rice using the broth that the chicken has been cooked in. This is ABSOLUTELY necessary to make the dish magic!
In a food processor add a 2 inch piece of ginger, about 5 trimmed spring onions and a teaspoon of salt. Blitz till macerated but not a paste. Remove and place in a small bowl. Add canola oil to cover and stir through. Add more salt if required.
Now remove the chook and cut in to desired pieces. Arrange on a serving platter and rub with sesame oil.
Serve at the table with the rice and the broth in separate bowls.
Now for the best bit- EATING IT!
In our family we all have different ways that we enjoy Hainan Chicken. My kids like it to be served almost as a soup with broth, rice and chicken all together.
I like mine with the rice and chicken and PLENTY (read lashings) of spring onion & ginger, chilli oil and then a little broth. I then finish the meal with a small bowl of broth on it's own. Being a "greens queen" I MUST have some chinese greens with it that I poach in the chicken broth just before the rice is ready (about 3 minutes) and then drizzle with Oyster sauce and a little sesame oil.
Here is a great recipe for Szechuan Pickled Cucumber from the Food of China (published by Murdoch books).
Join me on my journey...........I hope it becomes a fave at your house and don't forget to let me know how you go!
Listening to this as we eat.....