While most of the dishes of Singapore are very similar to Malaysia’s, there is perhaps one dish that stands out amongst the others. Singapore’s version of the Hainanese Chicken Rice is the most known to many foreigners. While this platter has become the iconic and National dish of Singapore, little Kuching town has transformed Singapore Chicken Rice as one of the signature dishes of Sarawak! Almost a neck and neck race with the most beloved and irresistible Sarawak Laksa !
Here’s my version of the “Singapore” Chicken Rice I made recently.
Sunday’s best choice
Sunday has always been a day of rest for my family in Kuching. Mum tries not to cook on Sundays. After the Sunday morning service, we would sample our favourite local dishes at the food court or open air markets or malls. One of our favourite eateries in the late 80’s and 90’s was the Singapore Chicken Rice restaurant, then located at Jalan Song Thian Cheok. We loved going there for two reasons: the tasty chicken rice dish and the air-conditioner 😀
Other days, we would order takeaway meals of the Singapore Chicken Rice. Honestly, speaking, I could not recollect dropping the word “Singapore” from SINGAPORE Chicken Rice. I could not remember saying Hainanese Chicken Rice at all.
Ask another Kuchingite. They will vouch my point. The funny thing was the Singapore Chicken Rice Restaurant was not known in Singapore at all. Then I learnt that the founder of the Singapore Chicken Rice were local Kuching guys, who probably had connections with Singapore? From a teeny weeny restaurant located at Jalan Song Thian Cheok in Kuching, THE Singapore Chicken Rice became a chain of household name with restaurant outlets throughout Sarawak and the rest of the world.
You can read their inspiring story here and how they ended up today: http://www.scr.my/
A Homemade Version
If you have been away from home for so many years – like me – it is only logical that you would crave for something you have not had in years.
By the way, my homemade version is not called Singapore Chicken Rice, but simply, Chicken Rice, an ode to the technique used by the Hainanese in poaching the chicken, with tinges of South East Asian flavours.
My recipe is adapated from the “Traditional Malaysian Cuisine: A Rich Selection in Culinary Heritage” with some modifications – highlighted in blue – in the ingredients used and method, according to my personal taste.
- 1 chicken (I used 8 chicken legs)
- 450 g rice ( I used 6 rice cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I used quite a lot of garlic – 2 bulbs!)
- Crushed Ginger (this was not in the recipe)
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- 1 cube chicken stock (according to taste)
- 2 tsp sesame oil (according to quantity of the chicken meat and taste)
- 1 tsp light soy sauce (according to quantity of the chicken meat and taste)
For the broth (not in the recipe – My version) –
- 1 onion, pricked with 2 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 2 big slices of ginger cut on the bias
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- Fresh coriander roots (a personal favourite)
- 2 sprigs spring onions, halved
- 1 whole lemon grass, bruised
- Kaffir lime leaves, torn
For the Dipping Sauce –
- 10 chillies
- 6 cm piece ginger – chopped or minced finely
- 1 Tbsp tomato sauce (Yes, that’s right!!)
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 clove garlic (I used quite a lot)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Boil enough water to cover the whole chicken in a large pan. Put in the chicken, lower the heat and cook the chicken covered for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken in the water for 40 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and put it in cold water for 15 minutes.
- Hang the chicken to dry and brush it with sesame oil mixed with soy sauce ( I placed my chicken legs upright in a colander)
- If you’re using the whole chicken, cut off the chicken legs, wing tips and neck put them back in the water to boil and add chicken stock cube to flavor the broth (As I did not use a whole chicken, I flavoured the chicken broth with the herbs and spices. At this stage, I reserved enough stock for the rice and the chilli sauce)
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil and fry the chopped garlic until fragrant and lightly browned.
- Add the rice, stir-fry for one minute and add the reserved chicken stock (preferably cooled on beforehand).
- Transfer the rice to the rice cooker and add crushed ginger, sesame oil and stock cube or salt to taste.
- While the rice is cooking, start to make the chilli sauce. Blend or pound the chillies, garlic and ginger finely.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil and fry the pounded ingredients until fragrant. Add salt, sugar, tomato sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and 4 Tbsp stock broth. Season well.
- Just before serving, I warmed up the chicken legs in the broth, removed them and brush some sesame oil and soy sauce mixture. I left the chicken leg whole when serving with the fragrant chicken rice, chilli sauce and a bowl of piping hot chicken broth.
Oh by the way, I am submitting this post to the Little Thumbs up event for the month of July with the chosen ingredient “GINGER” hosted by Alvin from Chef and Sommelier, organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids
As well as to –
Have a great sunny weekend!