Friday, August 06, 2010

July 30, 2010: Hainan-inspired chicken-inspired rice

During our day cooking with Kurma, we got talking to Diana. Unsurprisingly we shared an interest in vegetarian eating and cooking and afterwards she kindly emailed us a recipe she had for vegetarian Hainan chicken rice. Chicken rice was highly recommended by the Lonely Planet for our trip to Malaysia. We didn't end up finding a vego one on our travels, so we were excited to try this recipe out.

It required a few wacky (for us) ingredients - galangal and pandan leaf we managed to turn up at local Asian groceries, but ginger flowers were beyond my shopping skills, so we made do without. The galangal smells beautiful! Faintly of ginger, but with a very sweet almost lolly-ish element. It's a pretty simple recipe - some stock to cook rice in, a dipping sauce, some fried chicken and salady bits.

The stock smelled amazing as it was cooking, but the rice didn't take on quite as much flavour as we were hoping. Still, the sauce was mind-blowingly good: tangy, sweet and spicy - the perfect accompaniment to some pretty decent faux-chicken strips.

Vegie Hainan Chicken Rice

1 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
1 pandan leaf
1 cm piece ginger, sliced
2cm piece galangal, sliced
1 stick lemongrass
2 1/2 cups water

Boil everything together for half an hour and strain out the spices, reserving the stock. We probably ended up boiling things for a bit too long, meaning we ended up with only a cup or so of liquid, which wasn't quite as much as was needed to cook the rice.

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 teaspoons butter or Nuttlelex or peanut oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
pinch of turmeric

In a saucepan in high heat, add the butter, sesame oil and turmeric. When the butter has melted, add the rice and stir-fry for a minute or two, distributing the fat evenly through the grains. Transfer the rice to a saucepan, covering it with the stock and, if you need it, extra water to make up 1 1/2 cups liquid. Cook the rice, covered, on low heat until the liquid is absorbed.

2 tablespoons sambal oelek
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons vinegar
thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated rind of 1 lime
5 lime leaves, chopped finely (we used kaffir lime leaves because we had them, but I think you're supposed to use proper lime leaves)

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Final touches
1 small cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, sliced into wedges
250g of Fry's vegetarian chicken-style strips, fried in a splash of sesame oil

Serve up a big plate of rice, pop the chicken on top, the tomato and cucumber to the side and slather generously with the sauce.


  1. oh my! This is very clever! Love it! :)

  2. Wonderful! I miss the taste of haianese chicken rice living with a pescetarian, but this might actually tempt him back to the fold... Thanks for posting the recipe!

  3. Those strips are handy! Try the freezer at the grocers for ginger flower next time.

  4. looks delicious!

    randomly, i'm really commenting because . . . is that a blackberry on the chicken strips packet?! odd!

  5. Oh ic! That is a great way to make "chicken" rice.. heh

  6. one of my favourites...i haven't had this in ages. *makes grabby hands*

  7. I thought there might be some chicken rice devotees out there. :-D

    Nixwilliams - YES. The chicken strips serving suggestion appears to be a salad of lettuce, cheese, strawberries and blackberries. I'm not convinced. :-P

  8. Frys chicken rock!

  9. Yes, Jess, I was very impressed with it! Will buy it again when I'm in the mood for mock meat. :-)