Vietnam cooking class @ 2014

Chicken Rice

For the chilli sauce, try to find relatively mild chillies, or just use fewer of them. Failing that, you can also use a ready-made-sauce; just make sure it’s a savory variet, not a sweet one. The acar recipe that follows is another condiment that you can quite happlily serve alongside the chicken. Serves four.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (net weight), plus an extra
  • 15g, finely chopped, for the rice
  • 100g spring onion, sliced into 2cm pieces, plus 1 more whole spring onion for garnish
  • 1 free-range chicken weighing about 1.5kg
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled
  • 75ml dark soy sauce
  • 25ml light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 35g unsalted butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 420g jasmine rice
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons shop-bought fried shallots
  • 10g picked coriander leaves

 

For the chilli sauce

  • About 10 mild to medium-heat res chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped (80g net weight)
  • 20g ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce

PROCESS:

For the chicken and the broth
Fill a large pot with cold water and add the sliced ginger and spring onion. Bring to a boil and put in the chicken (for extra flavour, stuff the chicken with more crushed fresh ginger and whole spring onions, if you like). Make sure the chicken is completely submerged in the water. Put a lid on the pot and bring back to a rapid boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and leave to one side, covered, for 50-60 minutes.

Once the time’s up, check the bird is cooked by inserting a small, sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh by the bone – the juices should run clear. Lift the chicken from the stock and slice off each breast, skin included, in one piece. Put the breasts in a bowl with a little stock to keep them moist. Return the remaining chicken to the stock pot, bring back to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for five minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool down a little.

For the condiments
Make the condiments while the chicken is cooking. For the chilli sauce, put all the ingredients in a small food processor bowl, adding half a teaspoon of salt, and work for a couple of minutes until you have a uniform sauce. Top and tail the cucumber, cut it in two lengthways, then slice each half on an angle into 0.5cm-thick slices. Slice the whole spring onion on a sharp angle into long, thin slices and put these in a bowl in the fridge with some ice water. Whisk together the two soy sauces and the sesame oil.

For the rice
Start preparing the rice about 30 minutes before serving. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the 15g of chopped ginger and the garlic, and sauté on medium heat for three minutes, until light golden. Add the rice and a teaspoon of salt, and sauté, stirring, for four minutes; add a bit of stock if it starts sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Take 750ml of the chicken stock, including any fat that has collected on the surface, and add to the rice pot. Bring to a rapid boil, cover with a tight lid, reduce the heat to the absolute minimum, leave to cook for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat but keep covered.

To serve
When you are ready to serve, return the chicken breast to the hot stock to heat it up a little; it needs to be just warm. Meanwhile, chop the rest of the chicken – thighs, drumsticks and wings – into pieces of whatever size you prefer. Place these pieces on a large platter and top with the breasts, each cut neatly into three pieces widthways with the skin left on; you want to see the breast meat, not the messy, bony pieces of chicken underneath.

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