Fish Sauce Roast Chicken

Fish Sauce Roast Chicken (1 of 1)

 

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If you sometimes get sick of the same old roast chicken, the sticky Thai flavours in this bird will be a welcome change. Even if you don’t like fish sauce, don’t be deterred; all that’s left of that fishy, pungent taste after roasting is a thick, caramelised glaze that’s full of flavour.

Ingredients

1 whole 1.75kg free-range chicken

1 red onion, peeled and chopped into eighths

Marinade

1/3 cup (80mls) fish sauce

1 whole coriander plant, roughly chopped (including one single root, and all stems and leaves), some leaves reserved for garnish

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 tbsp caster sugar

3 birdseye chillies, finely sliced

juice of ½ lemon

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 180C (fan-forced). Mix all of the marinade ingredients together, and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside while you prepare the chicken.
  2. Rinse the chicken under running water and pat it dry inside and out with paper towel.  [Update: Recent British NHS guidelines released after this post recommend against washing poultry before cooking.] With kitchen scissors or a heavy knife, cut down either side of the backbone of the chicken and remove the backbone completely. Remove the wishbone if you like, as this will make carving the breast easier after the chicken is cooked. Press down on the breast of the chicken to flatten it. (Discard the backbone or, if you prefer, chop it into large pieces and place the pieces into the roasting tray to add more flavor to the pan juices.)
  3. Work your fingers under the skin of the breast and thighs. Spoon the marinade over the inside and outside of the chicken, as well as between the skin and meat, getting as much of the solid ingredients in the marinade under the skin as you can. Place the onion in a roasting tray and lay the chicken skin-side up on top of the onion.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes. Remove the chicken when the skin is dark and caramelised (it will be darker than a normal roast chicken from the caramelised sugars), and the meat is only just cooked through. Rest the chicken in a warm place for at least 10 minutes.
  5. While the chicken is resting, pour the juices from the pan into a jug, leave the onions in the tray. Skim off any liquid fat. Pour the juices back into the roasting pan with the onions and place the pan over heat. Stir the pan juices together with the onions and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Spoon the sauce and onions over the chicken, scatter with the reserved coriander leaves and serve.

This recipe appears in my second cookbook, Asian After Work.

AAW Cover - Web

Asian After Work is finally here!

AAW Cover Shot Landscape (1 of 1)

 

I’m so pleased to announce that after months of hard work and a lot of love, my new book Asian After Work is finally available in bookstores around Australia.

It’s a book full of real Asian recipes that are simple and easy to make, and which use ingredients you can find at your ordinary local supermarket. It’s the kind of stuff I used to cook for years when I worked an office.

You can read a little more about the book here.

If you’re outside Australia, don’t worry. I’ll update this post with further news of international releases as I find out about them. There may even be a bit of a surprise coming too 😉

UPDATE (11 October 2013): Asian After Work is now available WORLDWIDE as an ebook through iTunes HERE!

Very shortly I’ll be posting a few sample recipes from the book on this site so please check back soon.

I really want to thank the fantastic team that helped put it together. My publisher Vanessa Radnidge at Hachette, my editor Jacquie Brown, my exceptional stylist Lisa La Barbera, the best home economist in the business Nick Eade, the amazing Steve Brown who photographs all my books, and the design king Reuben Crossman. Most of all though I’d really like to thank my wife, my grandmother and my mother (to whom I’ve dedicated the book). Strong, caring and inspiring women who I am lucky to have in my life.

I hope you enjoy the book. It’s one I’m just so proud to have written.

Happy cooking!

Adam

AAW Cover - Web

 

 

Destination Flavour Japan

DFJ (1 of 1)

It’s finally here! Tonight is the official launch of Destination Flavour Japan on SBS ONE at 8pm. I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am of this.

Making this series has been a real labour of love for me. I lived in Japan for 7 years and since them I’ve wanted to show what I love about the country and its food to the rest of the world. For Destination Flavour Japan, I wrote and developed the series together with our amazing director, Scott Tompson and Destination Flavour’s creator and Executive Producer, Erik Dwyer from SBS. My wife, Asami, was the senior researcher for the show and found all of the fantastic stories, so many of which are really close to my heart.

There’s episodes with my family, my friends, my favourite restaurants and so many extraordinary people who are part of Japan’s food scene. It’s a series I hope will give you an insight into Japanese food and culture, but also Japanese people and how life rolls by in this magnificent country.

You can watch full episodes online here, and there’s also the extended cut video recipes, written recipes and my weekly Behind-The-Scenes blog. (Sorry, the full episodes are only available in Australia, but if you’re overseas you can catch a sneak peek on Youtube.)

I’ll also be live tweeting most episodes so you can follow me on Twitter @adamliaw, or just use the #DestinationFlavour hashtag while you’re watching.

I really REALLY hope you enjoy the show!

UPDATE (11 October 2013): If you want to download the show from iTunes, you can do that here!

MREs: Anatomy of a Military Meal
Outside US Army base Camp Hansen in Kin Town, Okinawa, the long defunct Club Robin now operates as a military surplus store.

Outside US Army base Camp Hansen in Kin Town, Okinawa, the long defunct Club Robin is now a surplus store.

The huge US military presence in the Japanese islands of Okinawa is accompanied by a cottage industry where locals trade in used or surplus military equipment. In Kin Town, outside the Camp Hansen military base on the main island of Naha, there is a small nightlife district that caters to the personnel from the base. It’s suffered since its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s, and today more than half of the businesses in the area have closed down.

I was in Kin Town to eat Okinawa’s famed taco rice from the popular local eatery, King Tacos. You can read more about that here. The street King Tacos is on is a long strip of mostly abandoned buildings, but in one establishment that was formerly a bar called Club Robin, an Okinawan man operates a military surplus store selling everything from fatigues and camelbacks to medals and military rations, also known as MREs (Meal Ready-to-Eat).

I picked up one of the packs for 500-yen (about US$5) and asked the man if he’d ever tried one. He replied that he ate one for lunch every day. Only later would I discover how terrible an existence that must be.

In choosing an MRE, I wanted something identifiably American, and so among the many options including fajitas, ravioli and noodles, I settled on Menu 17 – the great American Sloppy Joe.

If you’ve never had a Sloppy Joe, it’s essentially a hamburger with low self-esteem. Minced beef is stewed in a tomato-based sauce and served in a toasted hamburger bun. With something so simple, it would be interesting to put the MRE through its paces.

MRE: Sloppy Joe

MRE: Sloppy Joe

Inside the MRE there are all the elements of a full meal. A few snacks, a main course, dessert and both cold and hot beverages. There are also condiments, utensils and even two pieces of after-dinner chewing gum.

Glorious, all-important, after-dinner chewing gum.

MRE (2 of 4)

MRE-Detail-Web-Outline

1. Sloppy Joe filling – Barbecue sauce with beef (320 Calories, 17g fat)
2. MRE Heater
3. Spoon
4. Cheese spread with Jalapenos (180 Calories, 17g fat)
5. Tabasco
6. Iodised salt
7. Wheat snack bread (180 Calories, 6g fat)
8. Nut raisin mix (310 Calories, 25g fat)
9. Fudge brownie (320 Calories, 17g fat)
10. Nescafé Taster’s Choice instant coffee
11. Non-dairy creamer (for coffee)
12. Chewing gum
13. Splenda artificial sweetener
14. Matches
15. Moist towelette
16. Napkins/toilet paper
17. Carbohydrate electrolyte beverage powder, Orange flavour (90 Calories, 0g fat)
18. Hot beverage bag

Total: 1400 Calories, 82g fat.

Main Course: Sloppy Joe with jalapeno cheese spread and orange carbohydrate electrolyte beverage

Main Course: Sloppy Joe with jalapeno cheese spread and orange carbohydrate electrolyte beverage (Not pictured: shame)

Preparing the MRE was a straightforward process. Following the instructions on the packet, I poured a little water into the MRE heater – an iron/magnesium pad that produces flameless heat through an exothermic chemical reaction – and packed it into the cardboard box containing the Sloppy Joe filling.

I’m told that the MRE heaters can be quite effective, but after waiting the recommended 10 minutes there was very little in the way of warmth, and substantially more in the way of unpleasant chemical smells and disappointment.

Thankfully, I was not in the field and so I was able to heat the package in a pot of water on the stove. Minutes later, I was cooking with the fiery latin heat of a young Jimmy Smits.

Waiting for the filling to heat, I opened the package of “wheat snack bread” to discover it had both the appearance and texture of cardboard. If it had once intended to break apart into some kind of bun, it had long since lost the motivation to do so.

The Sloppy Joe filling was one of the most terrifying things I have ever encountered. As I opened the warmed packet and experienced what was inside, I could have sworn I heard a distant scream. The meat that had been touted as minced beef was clearly a kind of paste that had been reconstituted into a uniform, beef mince-like shape (for what ungodly reason is anyone’s guess). The sauce that tried so earnestly to hide the beef’s shame was a cheerful cherry red, with an aroma reminiscent of ‘new car smell’.

Topping the dispirited snack bread with the now-ironic Sloppy Joe “filling”, I prayed that the Cheese spread with Jalapenos would offer some hope, or at the very least a distraction. But as I read the helpful instructions to “knead well before opening” I knew all was lost.

The contents of the well-kneaded packet were an odd yellow-grey paste that resembled a dead man’s tongue, and owed about as much to cheese as it did jalapenos. Which is to say, nothing.

I had naively assumed that the cheese was a topping for the Sloppy Joe (as pictured above), but further reading (Lucky Peach, Issue 6) now informs me that it is in fact intended as a separate element in the meal. Adding it to the Sloppy Joe is a hack developed by soldiers in the field.

Now that’s all well and good, but let’s just pause for a moment to wonder at how the creator of this MRE must live if they consider that eating 42.5g of cheese paste without any accompaniments is a reasonable thing for a person to do. I can only imagine they once observed a tramp rifle through some garbage, emerging to eat a lump of soft cheese straight out of his hand, and it was at that point they had their “lightbulb moment”.

The flavour of the Sloppy Joe was in itself a hate-crime. Notes of canned spaghetti and low-sodium ketchup were confused by the texture of bread that was somehow both mushy and dry-brittle at the same time. Even doused in Tabasco I could only stomach a few mouthfuls before I started to feel a deep sorrow. The artificial-orange electrolyte drink powder that defied dissolution did little to wash away the taste.

Dessert: Fudge brownie, instant coffee, nuts and chewing gum

Dessert: Fudge brownie, instant coffee, nuts and sweet, sweet chewing gum

Moving on to dessert, I took a brief detour to the packet of mixed nuts and fruit. Egged on by a few unsavoury raisins, a gang of peanuts surrounded a clearly terrified almond. I don’t know how you spoil a nut, but they too had a strange chemical taste and were devoid of any nut flavour. The raisins themselves I can only describe as belligerent.

In a small coup for the folks back at MRE headquarters, the fudge brownie had some moisture to it, and its texture of clay was at least ‘wet clay’. A strong-if-artificial chocolate flavour upgraded that to ‘chocolatey wet clay’.

Inevitably, the instant coffee with non-dairy creamer and Splenda was not so much coffee as a beverage designed specifically to mock coffee.

Ending the meal came the sweet release of chewing gum. It wasn’t good chewing gum by any stretch, but it was clean and minty, with a hint of an apology. With each chew I tried to forget what I had just eaten, and after a while I stopped weeping.

Let us never forget what transpired here today, friends, for surely I have experienced the horrors of war.

Japan Travel Diary – North to South
Ice fishing for wakasagi on Lake Akan, Hokkaido.

Ice fishing for wakasagi on Lake Akan, Hokkaido.

Over the past 3 months I’ve been traveling the entire length of Japan, exploring its cuisine from north to south – from the ice and snow in Hokkaido in February, through the riot of the cherry blossom season, and on to the sun and sand (and rain) of Okinawa in May.

It was an amazing trip exploring food and culture, and of course huge thanks must go to the entire support team that saw it through months of pre-production and a lot of travel on just about every form of transport possible.

There are a number of BIG projects coming out of this trip (one of which may be obvious from the photo above), but the first is a weekly Japan Travel Diary I wrote along the way as part of my regular “Around the Table” column for The Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia.

Tsurunoyu Onsen

Tsurunoyu Onsen, Akita prefecture

I’ve collected all of the articles together here for you, so if you want to follow my trip from start to finish, just read on!

Hokkaido, Week 1: Off Script in Hokkaido

Tohoku, Week 2: Onsen Dining: Come for the Hot Springs, Stay for the Food

Ishikawa, Week 3: The Secrets of Perfect Sushi

Fukui, Week 4: Understanding Umami Part 1: The Kombu Code and Part 2: Bringing Balance to the MSG Debate

Tokyo, Week 5: Back to School with Ramen

Tokyo II, Week 6: Yakitori and Negative Space

Kyoto, Week 7: Sweet Treats, and Tea, in Kyoto

Osaka, Week 8: When the B-List is Best

Fukuoka, Week 9: Saving Fukuoka’s Street Food

Okinawa, Week 10: Okinawa’s Gourmet Revival

You can stay tuned with the rest of my Around the Table columns for Scene Asia here. And of course, keep in touch for the SBS TV series and much more coming out of my trip over the next few months.

Wagashi traditional sweets. This one's called "Azaleas growning out of a stone".

Wagashi traditional sweets in Kyoto. This one’s called “Azaleas growning out of a stone”.

Hand made Japanese knives in Osaka

Hand made Japanese knives in Osaka

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto

A Fukuoka yatai stall selling Hakata-style ramen.

A Fukuoka yatai stall selling Hakata-style ramen.

Taco rice from King Tacos, Okinawa.

Taco rice from King Tacos, Okinawa.

2012: Some Stuff That Happened

2012 is nearly done and I have to say it was a big year!

When the end of a year comes around I think our first reaction is to gasp at how quickly it all rushed past; but I think if we spend a few minutes thinking about everything we’ve done, we realise that we actually pack a lot into just 365 little days. Here’s some stuff that whizzed by this year:

Filming for South Africa’s Top Billing in Kruger National Park.

I got to meet a lot of you! It was really fantastic to meet so many people in person who have been so supportive. Thanks to everyone who came along to the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, Johannesburg Good Food and Wine Show, events in Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and of course here in Australia. Thanks also to all of you (more than 125,000!) who have connected on facebook and Twitter from Portugal, Finland, The Netherlands, the US, UK and Latin America. (I hope I haven’t missed anyone!)

Riding a boat on a burning river for the Hakui Matsuri, Ishikawa Prefecture.

I ate a lot of good food (and here are some of the highlights.) Maybe a little too much if I’m to be honest. I think an exercise plan is definitely on the cards. Who’s with me?

I’ve written a lot more this year and really enjoyed it. Spending a lot of time on the road it’s great to have something to do while I’m away from home. I wrote for a bunch of magazines and started Around the Table, my regular column for The Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia. My first book “Two Asian Kitchens” came out in Dutch, and also in paperback here in Australia. Lots more interesting things to come in 2013, and a new book out later in the year as well – watch this space!

Oysters fresh from the water in Freycinet, Tasmania for Destination Flavour.

I came back to TV! I appeared as a guest judge on both MasterChef Malaysia and MasterChef Australia, plus joined SBS co-hosting the first season of Destination Flavour. I had a ball traveling around and getting to know more about where our food comes from. Destination Flavour was really well received so thank you so much for all your support! It ended up being the highest rating food program on SBS for 2012, and I’ve even been nominated for a TV Week Logie for “Best New Male Talent”, so if you want to vote for me you can do so here. (But I’m up against people like Joel Madden and Seal, so let’s not get our hopes up…)

Singing at the Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s Starry Starry Night ball to raise money for children in violent situations.

I was able to support a lot of organisations that I think are doing really fantastic things in our communities. I played soccer (badly) for UNICEF and got to meet Alessandro Del Piero, played basketball (badly) for the Sydney Kings, and even sang in front of thousands of people for The Alannah and Madeline Foundation! I am very proud to support OzHarvest, Foodbank Victoria, The Cancer Council, The Crows Foundation, Diabetes Australia and many others. If I can ask anything of you for 2013, it would be to spend a little time helping any organisations in your own community that you think are doing good work to help those that need it.

Pulling on the boots for UNICEF.

On the “Year of the Dragon” float in the Sydney Chinese New Year Parade.

It was great being one of Sydney’s Chinese New Year Ambassadors for 2012. Sydney holds the largest Chinese New Year celebrations anywhere in the world outside of mainland China, but best of all I got to ride on a parade float just like Ferris Bueller. I was also an Adelaide Crows ambassador for our great 2012 season (expecting big things for 2013 boys!)

Last but definitely not least, I got married!

2012 was definitely a great year, but 2013 is already looking like a lot of fun. See you next year!

My wedding: Happo-en, Tokyo.

11 Memorable Things I Ate In 2012

King Tacos, Okinawa

I’m not much one for keeping score, but as another year goes by it’s nice to spend a few moments thinking about all the things we’ve done, the places we’ve been, and especially all the delicious things we’ve eaten.

I ate a lot of good stuff this year and here, in no particular order, are a few that stuck in my mind.

  1. No. 2 Burger – Pearl’s Diner, Adelaide
  2. Springbok, corn, pap and apple – The Saxon, Johannesburg
  3. Kuruma-ebi nigiri sushi – Sukiyabashi Jiro, Ginza
  4. Chicago-style deep-dish sausage pizza – made by my sister-in-law who lives in Ohio
  5. Oysters and Succulents – Attica, Ripponlea
  6. Banana leaf – Nirvana, Bangsar
  7. Taco rice cheese yasai – King Tacos, Okinawa
  8. Lantern yakitori – Torishiki, Meguro
  9. King George Whiting usuzukuri – Sokyo, Sydney
  10. Injera and wat – Abyssinia, Indianapolis
  11. Congee with ham, yolk and Earl Grey tea – Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney
Any dishes, meals or experiences that stand out in 2012 for you?

No. 2 Burger – Pearl’s Diner, Adelaide (photo: White Wall Photography)

Kuruma-ebi nigiri sushi – Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo

Chicago-style deep-dish sausage pizza – made by my sister-in-law

Taco rice cheese yasai – King Tacos, Okinawa

Lantern yakitori – Torishiki, Meguro

Clockwise from top left – Nirvana, Attica, Sokyo, The Saxon and Momfuku Seiobo

Injera and wat – Abyssinia, Indianapolis

 

Thanks for the memories, Jozi!

I’ve just landed back in Australia from another great Good Food and Wine Show in Johannesburg and just wanted to write a quick note to say thank you to everyone who came along to the show, watched the demonstrations, said hello, or took photos. I had an absolute ball! The picture above is just a selection of photos from Twitter and Facebook that I’ve grabbed.

If you want the recipe for the Sriracha Hot Wings that were part of my demonstration in the Chefs in Action Theatre, you can find that here.

My highlights were working with the wonderful team at the Good Food and Wine Show again (and great talent such as Levi RootsAnjum Anand, Sid Sloane and of course, my old mate George), eating A LOT of fantastic food (particularly a great meal of springbok at The Saxon), and of course meeting all of you.

I didn’t take too many photos myself this time because I was so busy at the show, but if you want to see photos of my 2011 trip to South Africa, you can see them here.

Destination Flavour premieres on SBS

Oysters fresh from the water – Coles Bay, Tasmania

I’m really excited to announce the launch tonight of Destination Flavour on SBS here in Australia. It’s a new food and travel show I have been filming together with Renee Lim and Lily Serna.

Renee, Lily and I travel Australia to find the people who devote their lives to producing the best food around – everyone from potato farmers to world-acclaimed chefs. I really hope you guys enjoy the show.

If you miss an episode, or if you want full recipes of anything you’ve seen on there, you can  visit the Destination Flavour website.  The recipes will be there to print out, as well as longer and more detailed “extended cut” videos that can walk you through them.

http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/destinationflavour

I’ve loved filming the first season of Destination Flavour, and I hope you all enjoy watching!

Unfortunately, my filming schedule for Destination Flavour overlapped completely with the filming schedule for MasterChef All Stars, so that’s why I wasn’t able to take part in that one. Still, I wish those guys all the best and it’s fantastic that they’re able to raise so much money for charity. I’m involved with a lot of the charities that they are competing for and I know how much good work they do in communities in Australia and around the world.

 

Authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice

This post has been through a number of revisions of the years. A few little changes to the recipe as my style of making it changes, as well as additional information added for those who want to know a little bit more about the dish. You can jump ahead to the recipe and video below, but if you want to read on I’ve now included a bit of background on one of Southeast Asia’s most influential dishes.

For those new to it, Hainanese Chicken Rice is a dish primarily attributed to Malaysia and Singapore although versions exist in Thailand (khao man gai) Vietnam (com ga) and Indonesia as well. It was created by migrants from the island of Hainan in China’s far south who arrived in Southeast Asia around the turn of the 20th century. My family is Hainanese, and my grandfather arrived in Malaysia from Hainan in around 1915.

The dish itself is based on a traditional Hainanese delicacy called Wenchang chicken. Specific free-roaming chickens from the Hainanese town of Wenchang are fed on peanut bran, coconut and various other things and they are famed for their generous fat, flavourful meat and tender skin. The most prized birds are the capons, huge 3-4 kilogram castrated roosters with incredible flavour. On Hainan, the Wenchang chickens are usually boiled just in salted water with the pure flavour of the bird itself. It’s then served with a sauce of some kind, which can vary from establishment to establishment. One popular sauce is made from salt-fermented crushed yellow chillies. The orange-coloured ginger and chilli sauce served with Hainanese chicken rice in Southeast Asia is an adaptation of this.

Wenchang chickens on Hainan.

Cooked Wenchang chicken as served in Haikou, Hainan.

Of course, the dish is Hainanese chicken rice is very different from its origins in Wenchang chicken. The elements are generally (1) free-range or kampong chicken poached in a broth This recipe is my own, a combination of what I learned from my Hainanese grandmother (my grandfather passed away before I was born), my Singaporean-English mother, and my elderly cousin who ran a very popular chicken rice stall in Singapore for more than 40 years (it’s now closed).

I’ve written about Hainanese Chicken Rice for the Wall Street Journal (Chicken Rice for the Soul) and published versions of this recipe in two of my six cookbooks (my grandmother’s “Original Recipe” in Two Asian Kitchens) as well as this updated and version which appears in my latest book Destination Flavour: People and Places, which is a combination of recipes from my SBS television series of the same name.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

1 large whole chicken (about 1.7 kg), at room temperature

5cm fresh unpeeled ginger

2 tsp salt

1/2  tsp monosodium glutamate, or 1 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)

1 tbsp sesame oil

coriander, to serve

sliced cucumber, to serve

 

Ginger and spring onion oil

2 tbsp fresh grated ginger

½ tsp salt flakes

4 spring onions, thinly sliced, green tops reserved

¼ cup peanut oil

 

Chicken Rice

3 1/3 cups (675g) jasmine rice

1/4 cup (approx.) vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves

2 eschallots, roughly sliced (or 1 brown onion, roughly sliced)

2-3 pandan leaves (optional)

 

Dressing

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 cup chicken stock from poaching chicken

 

Chilli Sauce for Chicken

4-6 red birds-eye chillies

6 thick slices of peeled fresh ginger

6 garlic cloves

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 – 1 cup chicken stock from poaching chicken

2 tbsp calamansi lime juice (or other tart citrus juice)

2 tbsp rendered chicken fat (or other oil)

 

Method

For the ginger and spring onion oil, pound the ginger and salt to a rough paste with a heatproof mortar and pestle. Add the spring onion and pound lightly to combine. Heat the peanut oil in a small frypan until it is smoking then pour the hot oil over the ginger mixture. Stir, then set aside until ready to serve.

For the chilli sauce, pound the chilli, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt together in a mortar and pestle until very smooth. Pounding chilli can take some time so to speed up the process you can start it in a blender or food processor and pound to finish, or grate the ingredients into the mortar using a rasp grater. Add the boiling stock to the pounded mixture. You can vary the amount of stock depending on the consistency of the chilli sauce you’re after. Stir in the juice, then adjust the seasoning if necessary so that the balance of sweet, sour and salty tastes is pleasant. Heat the chicken oil in a small saucepan until hot, the pour over the chilli mixture and stir to combine.

Remove the fat deposits from inside the cavity of the chicken, near the tail. Roughly chop the fat and place in a small frying pan over very low heat to render. Render the chicken fat, stirring occasionally for about an hour until you all the fat is rendered and the solids are crisp. Remove the solids and use them for another purpose. Reserve the chicken oil.

To begin poaching the chicken, pound the unpeeled ginger in a mortar and pestle and add to a large pot containing about 4 litres of water, along with the tops of the spring onions used for the ginger and spring onion oil. Add the salt and MSG or chicken stock powder (if using) and bring to the boil over high heat. Taste the water and adjust the amount of salt so that it tastes savoury and a little salty. Reduce the heat to very low and add the chicken to the pot. There should be enough water in the pot so that the chicken doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot, as that will cause the skin to tear. Lift the chicken in and out of the water a couple of times to change the liquid in the chicken’s cavity. If you have poultry hooks, use them to hang the chickens in the pot (see video below). The water should now be steaming but not bubbling. Keep the heat low at this level and cook the chicken for 45 minutes.

Using the poultry hook (or slotted ladle), carefully lift the chicken out of the pan, ensuring you don’t break the skin, and plunge into a large bowl or sink of salted iced water. Reserve the stock and stand the chicken in the iced water for at least 10 minutes, turning once. This will stop the cooking and give the skin its delicious gelatinous texture. Remove from the iced water and hang over a bowl or the sink to drain well. Rub the skin all over with the sesame oil. The chicken should be cooked very lightly, pink inside the bones and with a gelatinous skin.

To make the chicken rice, pound the garlic and eschallot (or onion) to roughly bruise with a mortar and pestle. Combine the rendered chicken oil with vegetable oil to make ½ a cup of oil. Heat in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger stir until starting to brown, then strain through a sieve. Reserve the oil and discard the solids. Place the rice in a rice cooker or heavy-based saucepan. Add about 1.2L of the reserved stock from the chicken (strained) and the reserved flavoured chicken oil (or use the proportions as indicated on your rice cooker). Tie the pandan leaves in a knot (if using) and add to the rice. If cooking in a pot, bring to the boil over high heat and continue to boil for about 5 minutes until the level of the liquid reaches the top of the rice, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook for 12 minutes, then remove from the heat and stand for another 10 minutes.

For the dressing, combine the ingredients with about half a cup of the stock from cooking the chicken. When the rice is ready, use a cleaver to slice and debone the chicken Chinese-style and pour the dressing over it. Scatter with the coriander sprigs, and serve with sliced cucumber, tomato and serve with the rice and sauces.

Family-style chicken rice.

Key Tips for Hainanese Chicken Rice

  • The key to this whole dish is seasoning the stock. If you find the stock, chicken, rice or sauces taste a little insipid, it is because the stock is not correctly seasoned. Taste the stock after cooking the chicken, it should taste like a strongly savoury chicken stock. If it tastes weak, add a little more salt. You can also boost it with a dash of fish sauce if you like, or some MSG if you are not opposed to it. Alternatively, do as I mention in the video and cook 2 chickens at once.
  • Please don’t overcook the chicken. A slow, gentle simmer for 45 minutes will produce chicken with a very pale pink blush to the meat and the inside of the thigh bones should be bright pink. If they are brown or grey the chicken is over cooked. That’s OK, but the texture will not quite be right.
  • Often in Singapore this will be served with thick black cooking caramel or kecap manis over the chicken, but I prefer the sesame dressing included here.
  • When making the chilli sauce, look for the colour of the sauce, rather than following the recipe exactly. It should be a bright orange, and that colour will give you a good indication of the proportion of chilli to ginger and garlic. The heat of the sauce should depend on the kind of chillies used, not the amount. The flavour of chilli in this sauce is more important than the heat.

This recipe appears in my new cookbook, Destination Flavour: People and Places (2018) which follows my travels across my SBS television series of the same name. The book covers Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Singapore and China.