Simple boiled chicken stars in Singapore’s national dish.
A few years ago Tony Bourdain took us on an armchair tour of Singapore and a taste of Chicken Rice, the national dish. Chicken Rice is boiled chicken over rice served with a few condiments. It couldn’t be simpler, or more confounding, because of its utter purity.
This preparation seems so refreshing in our culture of grilled chicken breasts and supermarket rotisserie chicken. A simple boiled bird offers moist, delicious meat for so many applications. Grilled and rotisseried treatments are wonderful, but the char and roasted flavors are occasionally a distraction.
The method is simple. Empty the cavity of a whole, smallish (3 to 5 pounds) chicken and rinse. Place the bird in a stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size. It’s cooked when the leg bone easily pulls from the thigh and a meat thermometer registers 170 to 180°F. Using tongs and a big spoon inserted in the cavity for leverage, gently lift the chicken from the broth and plunge it in a large bowl filled with an icy bath.
This icy water bath is important to the Singapore method. The cooling quickly stops the cooking and sets the meat and skin. Cool until the bird is easy to handle. Now you can easily and quickly pull the meat off, store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for quick meals, sandwiches and snacks, or whip up a quick supper of Singapore Chicken Rice. See our recipe below.
The bonus is that you’ll also have a pot full of delicious homemade chicken broth. Keep it simmering on the stove after you pull the bird until it’s about ¼ the volume for easy storage. Use your homemade concentrated broth for rice, soups, sauces, and gravies. Chill the broth before reducing to make the fat removal easy. Store in your freezer in small plastic containers.
Singapore Chicken Rice
Make a pot of jasmine rice with your fresh chicken broth while the chicken cools.
Assemble a few condiments such as sliced green onions, cilantro, cucumber slices, and sliced tomato.
Make a quick hot chili sauce in the blender with a ¼ cup of your chicken broth, ¼ cup Sriracha hot chili sauce, the juice of one lime, a clove of garlic, and a ½-inch slice of fresh peeled ginger. Have the soy sauce handy or even oyster or hoisin sauce. It’s traditional to leave the skin on the chicken when serving, but you don’t have to. Remove the chicken from the bones and serve in bite size pieces along with the hot cooked rice, condiments and sauce.