Hainanese Chicken Rice
The famous Hainanese Chicken Rice is a staple dish that has captured the hearts of many Malaysians.
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In every food court at any shopping mall in Malaysia, there is bound to be at least one stall which sells chicken rice. This dish, a hit among the locals, is a dish that can be eaten at any time of the day. Like any other food critics, the locals have their own opinion of how a perfect chicken rice dish should taste. While most of them do not give much heed to how the rice and soup should taste, they give particular attention to the preparation of the chicken. Hainanese Chicken Rice is a dish of Chinese origin based on a well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken. However, as time passed, modifications were made to the recipe to suit the preferences of the locals.
The chicken is prepared by boiling it in a chicken and pork bone stock, with water added to the existing stock only when it is necessary to preserve the taste. Another stock made from chicken bones and meat is used to cook the rice, which produces a fragrant and slightly oily rice which is synonymous to the chicken rice that we are familiar with today. In later years, the chicken preparation took on a Cantonese cooking style, wherein certain versions the bird is dipped in ice after it is cooked to give its skin a jelly like texture. This results in more tender and juicy cuts of the chicken, which is known as bai ji or white chicken, in addition to the roasted chicken or roasted pork. The rice is cooked by frying it with garlic and ginger slices before adding the chicken stock. Sometimes, screwpine leaves are added into the cooking pot to make it more fragrant. A single serving of chicken rice comes with a serving of the chicken, be it roasted or white, cut slices of cucumber, a bowl of chicken soup and chilli sauce and/or pounded ginger. Thick soya sauce is also provided by chicken rice sellers to be enjoyed with the rice in certain areas.
Different varieties of the condiments served have been introduced by different sellers over the years. Some have added side dishes like eggs and dry tofu steeped in broth, chai boey (stewed mustard leaves with tamarind, dried chilli and pieces of leftover meat and bones, usually chicken) or even chicken innards like gizzard and liver. The consumers' positive response towards this dish encouraged Malay traders to create their version of chicken rice. To spice up the taste of the rice, some of the Malay traders prepare it by adding in butter and herbs into the rice to make it more fragrant. The chicken is roasted to perfection and it is also served with a bowl of soup and vegetables like salad leaves, cucumber and tomatoes. There are two other famous variants on Hainanese Chicken Rice: Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken Rice and Malacca Chicken Rice Balls. Ipoh Nga Choy Kai or Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken Rice comes with a plate of blanched bean sprouts served with oil and light soy sauce. The rice for Malacca Chicken Rice Balls is, as the name suggests, shaped into balls and served with the delectable white chicken and its condiments.
Franchise outlets like The Chicken Rice Shop now specialise in all things associated with chicken rice. Being an outlet that serves halal food, many Muslims can now enjoy the delicious Hainanese chicken rice without any worries. Other franchise outlets like Rasamas and even KFC also serve their own version of chicken rice with their own chicken recipes. Chicken rice lovers can now enjoy this dish anytime they want, no matter where they are in Malaysia.