I scored this organic whole-chicken for $2.49/lb at the local grocery store during their weekly sale the other day. Too bad Mr. O is not home to eat his favorite chicken dish. He has been eating a lot of Korean food this week since his work assignment is right in L.A’s Korean Town.
To be honest, I also want some Korean soup and stew right now. The weather in this nook of my life is just too dreary and cold, while it is around 80F degree in L.A.
Here is the back story of how I came to learn making this dish!!!
One of my all-time favorite chicken dish is Hainanese Chicken Rice.
It all started during the years living in Boston and eating at Penang Restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown. I always ordered Hainanese Chicken (dark meat), with Kangkung Balachan (Stir-fried hallow spinach with fermented shrimp paste) and Sambal. It was so addicting that I refused to order any other dish whenever we visited the place.
But Mr. O refused to eat it. He either ordered Pineapple Fried Rice or Pad Thai, but not Chicken Rice, even when I offered him a few bites. He said the chicken had no flavor and he didn’t like the skin or the dark meat. I know, my husband does not know how to cook, but is quite picky and selective of his choices.
And then we moved to the Midwest five years ago…
The only place that offers Hainanese Chicken Rice that I knew of is this fancy-looking Malaysian restaurant on Eat-Street in Minneapolis. I craved for the dish, and asked Mr. O to take me there.
They failed me on the first try, but as my craving called for it, we continued to come back when we had exhausted our other choices.
More often than not, the chicken was either too dry or just too bland. It did not have that same chewy texture that was offered at Penang restaurant in Boston. On top of that, it has that old-stale taste that I knew the chicken was not freshly made within the same day, but was cook days before and was frozen then thawed to order.
That was not right!
We refused to go there again, and in away, boycotted the place. I don’t like to support eating establishments that take short-cuts and cheated me out of quality for the money that I paid.
Not too long after we boycotted the restaurant, and couldn’t find any other place to satisfy my desire for chicken rice, I decided to do my own research, reading several food blogs and youtube videos to really hanker down the techniques.
Once I had read enough, I decided to try it out. That first time I asked Mr. O to eat it because it was time-consuming to make and Chicken Rice was the only choice for dinner that day. Eat it, or go hungry, or make your own food — that sort of attitude!
He hesitated, but ate the meal anyway since he had no other choice. And then he told me that it was so good, that he continued to pick up more chicken pieces to finish the meal.
I considered that a success, with Mr. O’s and the kids’ approval. Then I advertised my newfound skills to my family, and they asked me to make Hainanese Chicken Rice for them. I scored another set of approval!
Since then, I have made this dish at least thrice a month, sometimes once a week to satisfy Mr. O’s craving for it. And on the positive side, it’s a clean healthy eating too when I don’t use the chicken fat to cook the rice, but substitute with coconut oil.
Long story short…I can now cook the chicken and make the rice with my eyes closed. Ok, not to that extreme of confidence, but I can say that it could possibly come close to the authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore or Malaysia, or Hainan, from where the name is derived. Now my wish is to travel to those places and try the real ones to satiate my affinity for the dish.
*Dear wish-fairy, please make my wish as your command, pretty please!!*