Regarding "Hainanese Chicken Rice" - this usually refers to a kind of chicken rice developed in Singapore and Malaysia (and Thailand, to a lesser extent) with roots in a chicken dish from Hainan ("Wenchang Chicken"). The type of chicken rice referred to as HCR has been exported back to Hainan Island in recent years.
IMHO I don't think there is a single "best" way to cook HCR. It will also vary with the chicken (what kind, how big, etc) as well as one's preference for how the rice to accompany it is cooked. The chicken itself is essentially no different from what is known as "pak chit kai" or "pak cham kai" in Cantonese; it's the rice PLUS THE CONDIMENTS besides the chicken that is part of the totality of HCR and which also vary, with different localities and vendors having different variations as well - even apart from the variations on the chicken itself - that distinguish one from the other.
Singapore prides itself on its HCR and thinks the Malaysian versions inferior. Folks from Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh) often prefer their own versions. The RICE in Singapore is usually much more savory and packed full of stuff (like lots of chicken fat and other stuff - simply making "chicken rice" with just the stock in which you cooked your ONE chicken is not going to cut it with most Singaporeans) whereas the rice in Penang, in particular, tends to be much more plain, much less savory. Dejah, did you notice this, or was your experience different? Singapore HCR vendors also tend to use more "mushy"-fleshed chickens, mostly from the French-type chickens commercially available there; whereas Malaysians tend to use what are called "ayam kampong" ("village chickens") which are a sort-of free-range-type of chicken with 'tougher' flesh but stronger chicken-y flavor. Foodie folks from Malaysia have been known to express a strong dislike for the HCR *chicken* in Singapore and vice-versa. :-)
I myself alternate between cooking my chickens for HCR using a "constant low simmer" (10 min/lb plus 10 min more) versus a "medium boil" for 10 min or so then letting sit in the stock (fire turned off) for about 20-30 min (~4 lb bird) then sometimes bringing back to a boil again or not, depending on how much water I started out with and/or what the internal temp of the bird is in the thickest part of the thigh is. I don't always do the iced-water dunk - I *like* the extra gelatin that pools (and gels) under the chicken (on a plate) when I don't do the dunking whereas the dunking washes off a lot of this extra gelatin. In fact, I think I *don't* do it more often than I do. In any case, I use LOTS of smashed ginger. Lots. Did I mention I use lots of ginger? :-)
For the rice, I often add in extra chicken fat (I get that from my local butcher in small tubs) into the poaching stock from the beginning - which helps to "coat" the chicken when it is done and removed from the stock, obviating the "oiling the skin" treatment afterwards - and this extra fat is scooped up (with the stock, plus some of the ginger pieces) for use in cooking the rice. I might sauté some garlic and extra ginger in the pot I use for cooking the rice (I cook my rice on the stove top) before adding the raw rice and tossing it before adding the stock + chicken fat + ginger. At other times I'll just simply use the poaching stock as-is. Depends on my mood. ;-)
For sauces, I've made grated ginger - chopped scallion - HOT oil (peanut + veggie); chicken liver sauce; various chilli sauces with or without additional additives (vinegar. lime juice, other chilli sauces, etc), sautéed chopped smashed garlic quenched in the pan w/ a good soy sauce; etc.
I normally reheat a portion of the poaching stock w/ some vegetable (usually leafy, but not always) to give a chicken broth with greenery in it to accompany the meal - although I have on rare occasions just had a bowl of the broth w/ a scattering of chopped scallions and/or coriander leaves in it too.
I've reported on my HCR meals and what I've done with leftovers here on the older "dinner" threads and on the "lunch" thread.
Edited by huiray, 23 May 2013 - 05:09 PM.