When I was growing up, my mom called her version of this very simple chicken dish "cold boiled-chicken" because it was essentially a boiled chicken served cold or sometimes sort of tepid but never blazing hot. The Chinese version, known as Hainanese chicken, is usually served with salted, skin-on peanuts and a garlicky, gingery condiment. The Thai version, called Khao Man Gai, is usually served warm on a bed of rice that's been cooked in chicken broth with a thick, spiced soybean paste and cucumber slices on the side.
My mom is Chinese and my dad is Thai, so is it any wonder that simple chicken and rice is one of my favorite dishes? For this recipe, I've streamlined the process considerably and made a simple mish-mash of the two styles: Instead of cooking the rice in the chicken broth made by the cooking the chicken, I just spoon a little of the savory liquid over the top, and the condiment I use is heavy on the green onions and only contains chiles if I'm craving them (because despite my genetic predisposition to like really spicy food, I don't). This recipe also employs the use of residual heat to cook the chicken, which warms the cockles of my energy-efficiency-loving heart.
Use white rice to go old-school or use brown for some flavor and fiber. If you have the patience and don't plan on eating the chicken sooner than later, go ahead and use the chicken cooking liquid to cook your rice. It will only make it that much more delicious.
To finely chop the green onions for the condiment, I slice them into quarters lengthwise before I work my way down each stalk; it's a good knife-skills exercise and helps to get evenly sized pieces of onion.
I usually eat my chicken warm-ish, but it's also great cold. The variations on this recipe are endless. Sometimes I'll go for a pho-like flavor in the broth, adding in a stick of cinnamon, a piece of star anise, and a clove or two. You can also add a chunks of bitter melon (or another vegetable) to the broth to make it extra fortifying. —vvvanessa
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
- Serves 4
slices ginger, peeled or unpeeled, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped (or grated on a Microplane) ginger
garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
Coarse-grain sea salt
finely chopped scallions (both green and white parts)
Thai chile, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
cooked rice (white or brown, cooked in water or chicken stock)
Optional garnishes: salted and roasted skin-on peanuts, cucumber slices, cilantro leaves, tomato slices, fried shallots or garlic, sliced scallions, chile sauce like Sriracha, and/or soy sauce
- Place the chicken, breast and legs down, in a stock pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Add the ginger slices, the garlic, black peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover the chicken completely with cold water (3 to 5 quarts, depending on the size of your chicken and pot). Full immersion of the chicken is key.
- Bring to a boil and cook at a full boil for 10 minutes. Skim off the scum if you like. Remove the pot from the heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the chicken sit for 1 hour.
- While the chicken cooks, in a small bowl, mix the finely chopped ginger, the scallions, oil, chile, if using, and 1 teaspoon of salt; the mixture should be salty and strong-tasting.
- Carefully lift the chicken out of the pot and transfer to a platter or cutting board. Do not lift the chicken by any of its limbs or they will come off. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should register at least 170°F. Unless you have a freakishly large chicken, this should not be a problem. Let the chicken cool slightly.
- Bring the broth back to a boil, then let it simmer while the chicken cools. Taste and add 1 teaspoon or so more salt if you like (I like mine on the salty side).
- To serve, cut the chicken into pieces (I avoid chopping the legs into pieces because they tend to splinter. and I would rather just serve them whole). Arrange them alongside or on top of the hot rice that has been doused with 1 tablespoon or so of chicken broth. Feel free to remove the skin. On the side, serve a small bowl of strained broth garnished with cilantro and scallions. Use the ginger-green onion condiment sparingly. Serve with a soy sauce creation and any of the garnishes mentioned, as desired.