Singapore: Surprisingly No Noodles

After such a great day enjoying Armenian food at the Church Food Festival we thought it be nice to have a home cooked meal.  Because making the other home cooked meals so far have been SOOO easy (sense the sarcasm?).  We made our way to the giant world market type supermarket in Maryland.  We picked up a few items to make dinner tonight and for tomorrow (Croatian.)  Tomorrow’s meal had to be marinated over night so it was a perfect time to go.

For tonight’s meal we went something from Singapore.  I came to find that most Singapore cuisine was seafood or curry; however, there is something quite different.  This meal is called Hainanese Chicken Rice.  Haianase chicken rice was named as one of the 50 most delicious foods in the world in 2011 by CNN (http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/eat/worlds-50-most-delicious-foods-067535).  It is considered there national dish as well.

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Knowing it was so popular and not fish, I was sold.  (I always assume the best before making the dish and eating it, little do I know)  Hainanese chicken rice has a only a few steps that include: steeping a whole chicken in sub-boiling water, making a oily rice, and a hot chilli sauce dip.   I came to find this was more difficult than it looks to get that great flavor I am sure is enjoyed all over Singapore.  I also learned that if you put a whole chicken in an ice bath, the food will be cold (No one warned me).

I started by stuffing a whole chicken with ginger and green onion.  Oh let me tell you that I exfoliated a raw chicken for the first time ever before stuffing it.  After exfoliated and stuffed, the chicken was placed in a large pot of water.  It was boiled for a few hours in this giant stock pot.

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After the chicken boiled for a few hours it was immediately thrown in giant ice bath.  I found this completely odd but the reasoning behind this is acceptable.   Putting it in ice makes the cooking process stop and tightens the skin, giving it that crispy feel.  We also kept the broth the chicken was cooked in, as it was used in the cooking of the rice as well.

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The hiananese rice was easy to make and used some of the chicken broth after the chicken was done.  The rice was soaked for a few minutes and then thrown in a pot with cooked ginger & garlic.  That aroma was the most enjoyable of this preparation.  The rice was fried for a few minutes and mixed with the chicken broth to cook for about 15 minutes.

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The chicken didn’t have a whole lot of flavor but I found a chili sauce to go with it.  The spicy chili sauce was the saving grace to help revive the chicken.  The sauce was a mix of Sriracha, lime, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar and more of the chicken broth.  The ingredients were thrown in a ninja and pureed into a wonderful sauce.

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As I plated the dish I realized I was taking out chicken of an ice bath, meaning cold chicken.  That was the weirdest part of the meal but the chili sauce intensified the flavors.  The plates were beautiful and looked quite appealing.  On the side of the dish we cut up some cucumber and dipped them in soy sauce.  On top of the chicken we put a pinch of cilantro.

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I always assumed that Singapore was noodles and soups.  Now maybe they do have some food with noodles (which they do have many).  However, this meal was a “national dish” in Singapore and enjoyed from the comfortableness of our couch.

-Matt

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