My mother used to call her version of this basic chicken meal “cold boiled chicken” since it was simply boiled chicken served chilly or occasionally lukewarm but never flaming hot. Hainanese chicken, the Chinese variation, is typically served with salted, skin-on peanuts and a garlicky, gingery sauce. The Thai variant, known as Khao Man Gai, is often served warm over a bed of chicken broth-cooked rice, with a thick, seasoned soybean paste and cucumber slices on the side.
I have a Chinese mother and a Thai father, so it’s no surprise that one of my favorite recipes is basic chicken and rice. With this recipe, I’ve simplified the procedure significantly and created a basic mash-up of the two styles: Instead of boiling the rice in the chicken broth, I just pour a bit of the delicious liquid over the top, and the sauce I use is heavy on the green onions but only contains chiles if I’m wanting them (despite my genetic proclivity to appreciate extremely spicy cuisine, I don’t). This method also uses residual heat to cook the chicken, which warms the insides of my energy-saving heart.
White rice is traditional, but brown rice adds taste and fiber. If you have the patience and also don’t plan on eating the chicken right away, go ahead and cook your rice in the chicken frying liquid. It will only make it more delectable.
To finely chop the green onions for the sauce, I cut them into quarters lengthwise before working my way down each stalk; it’s a terrific knife-skills exercise and helps to produce uniformly sized onion pieces.
I prefer my chicken warm, but it’s equally delicious cold. The possibilities with this dish are limitless. I’ll sometimes add a stick of cinnamon, a piece of star anise, and a clove or two to the soup for a pho-like flavor. To make the soup even more nutritious, add pieces of bitter melon (or another vegetable).
- 1 chicken (312 pound)
4 slices peeled or unpeeled ginger, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped (or grated on a Microplane) ginger
- 3 peeled and gently smashed garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Sea salt, coarse grain
- 3 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped (both green and white parts)
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 1 seeded and coarsely chopped Thai chile (optional)
- 4 cups rice, cooked (white or brown, cooked in water or chicken stock)
- Garnishes are optional. salted and roasted skin-on peanuts, cucumber slices, cilantro leaves, tomato slices, fried shallots or garlic, sliced scallions, Sriracha or other chile sauce, and/or soy sauce