02 October 2011

Making Chicken Rice

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I generally shy away from cooking Southeast Asian food because they require so many different types of spices and so much effort, not to mention the fact that a very good rendition is probably available a hop and a skip away from wherever I am and can be purchased for a song.

However, ever since I tried making Tom Yam soup and Pho Bo, and realized how easy those were, I've learnt to question these assumptions and have been more open to cooking (or at least attempting to) Southeast Asian food. In some ways, you can say Ed's soft spot for food from around the region has been a key motivating factor as well.

That is not to say that I've been particularly successful at my attempts though. In my previous entry I mentioned how the Assam Laksa took a painful two and a half hours to complete. Mind you, there were three, sometimes four, persons working on the dish at any one time.

Today, I was inspired by Adam Liaw's cookbook with a recipe for Chicken Rice - possibly one of Ed's top five favorite dishes, ever. It sounded simple enough and the ingredient list was not too long nor diverse. All was well - forty minutes into the cooking and I was almost done. Minimal washing up seemed to be required (I cheated and used the rice cooker to fry the rice first) and the smell in the kitchen was promising.

And then I had to chop the chicken.

Even with a sharp cleaver and all the determination I could muster, I could not make clean, decisive chops at the chicken. Worse still, I wasn't prepared for all the juices to spill out of the chicken's cavity, onto the chopping board, countertop and down the kitchen cupboards before finally reaching the kitchen floor in all it's greasy goodness.

But after some (more) struggle and compromises (drumsticks and wings left whole), I managed to get the chicken onto a plate of sliced cucumbers. With newfound respect for those uncles (and the occasional aunty) who chop chicken in the shops, I tucked into the chicken rice with Ed. After all that effort, would I make it again? Maybe!

Adam Liaw's recipe worked quite well and on the whole it was tasty. I liked the fact that I had very little chopping to do, apart from the chicken. Mainly whole cloves of garlic or thick slices of unpeeled ginger were used. I made chicken rice before, using other recipes and Adam's unusual step of wrapping the cooked chicken in cling wrap after brushing it with sesame oil might have lent itself to the silky smooth skin. While I wasn't too sure about the chilli sauce recipe - I doubled the recipe and used a whopping 11 bird's eye chillies - they turned out well in the end. The bright tang of the lemon juice freshened up the dish, and for some reason the sauce was not as spicy as I thought it would turn out to be.

Can't wait to try his other recipes!

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