Monday, December 19, 2011

Garlic and Spring Onion Chicken Rice

Strangely, I first tried this apparently common Asian dish in Dunedin. I say 'apparently common' because it seems to be on the menu of most of the Chinese/Cambodian restaurants in Dunedin, yet I'd never seen/heard of it in Malaysia or Singapore, where there is generally a wide variety of all cuisines. 

Anyway, we were new in town and A specifically recommended the 'Steamed Chicken Rice' from Sampan (362, George Street, Dunedin). For Malaysian/Singaporeans, 'Chicken Rice' is a particular local speciality, so I will refrain from calling this that. It quickly became a favourite that we (E, S and I) would crave every other week, for many years. I used to drown it with the clear chicken soup that it was served with and that was the ultimate comfort meal for me, regardless of the season or time of day. Of course its perceived comfort quotient increased in sickness and cold weather.

For various reasons (convenience, simplicity, cost/product ratio, etc), this year I came up with my own quick and dirty version. Given that it wasn't a very refined or complex dish to begin with, I think my (slightly different) version is at least just as good Sampan's.

Garlic and Spring Onion Chicken Rice

Chicken thigh fillets (or whatever cut you prefer)
OXO chicken stock cubes
Ginger (fresh, peeled, about 5 inches)
Spring Onions

1. Boil chicken pieces with 2.5 inches of ginger and 1 crumbled cube of chicken stock.
2. While chicken is cooking, finely mince garlic and spring onions (as you can see from the photo, I did not mince the garlic finely enough this time). If you have a food processor, you can just mince them together.
3. Remove chicken as soon as it is cooked, but do not pour away the stock/soup that the chicken was cooked in.
3. Strain stock/soup with a fine cheesecloth (for best results) or let it rest until all residue settles at the bottom of the pot. Skim the oil off the surface if you like.
4. Add rice to rice cooker pot with 1 crumbled cube of chicken stock, the remainder 2.5 inches of ginger and enough soup/stock (make sure to use only the clear broth and try not to scoop up any residue) to cook the rice, then cook rice.
5. Mix minced garlic and spring onions together. The amounts are up to you. I think a ratio of 2:3 garlic to spring onions is about right. Add a few teaspoons of salt and sugar (about 2:1).
6. Heat oil (enough to cover garlic and spring onion mixture) until hot enough to create a sizzle when a small piece of garlic is added. I use a microwave but heating it on the stove would be much better.
7. Pour hot oil over minced garlic and spring onion mixture and mix thoroughly. It should be quite salty as the chicken, rice and soup will be bland. Add salt/sugar and taste again until it is to your liking. You may reheat this mixture if you like, but you don't want the spring onions to wilt too much or turn too dark.
8. Serve rice and chicken topped generously with the garlic and spring onion mixture and some of stock/soup. It is quite a dry dish without the soup, so I like to drench it, but you should only do that if you have properly strained the soup/stock with a cheesecloth, otherwise the fat and residue (from boiling the chicken) makes the rice greasy and pasty.

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