Xi’an Spiced Chicken with Fragrant Rice
Pasar Jumbo Fresh Chicken (about 1kg each)
Calrose rice (400 – 600g)
unsalted butter (40 – 60g)
peeled and sliced into coins
pandan leaves, tied into a knot
Chinese spinach, blanched, chilled and finely chopped
spring onions, finely sliced
peeled and finely minced
Sea salt, sugar and rice vinegar, to taste
spring onions, finely sliced
Sea salt and sugar, to taste
Rice vinegar and fish sauce, to taste
How to cook
To prepare the rice:
- Measure 400 – 600g of calrose rice and rinse it 3-4 times, draining all the water in between washes.
- Debone whole chicken to yield 2 thighs with its skin on and reserve the remaining chicken fat.
- Heat up oil, followed by chicken fat in the pan.
- Sauté over low heat until the chicken fat releases its oils, then increase heat to medium till the fat turns light brown in colour.
- Add unsalted butter to the pan and heat until it is light-brown in colour with a fragrant and nutty smell (“beurre noisette” in French).
- Add in old ginger, chopped spring onions, chopped white onions, pandan leaves and garlic cloves into the pan and coat thoroughly with the oil-butter mixture.
- Heat mixture over low heat until onions are softened and garlic releases its aroma.
- Pour the pan’s contents and drained rice into a rice cooker. You could pour some water into the pan and reheat it to “deglaze” so you can collect all the tasty brown bits.
- Pour the “deglazed” pan liquid into the rice cooker and top up with water to the correct level before cooking it according to the rice cooker’s instructions.
To prepare the ginger scallion (“green”) sauce:
- Add all ingredients except the salt, sugar and rice vinegar in a blender. Blend it all finely before transferring the mixture to a heatproof bowl.
- Heat up the rapeseed oil in a pan until it has just reached smoking point.
- Pour the heated rapeseed oil into a bowl with the blended ingredients. Do be careful of oil splatter and wear an apron and keep at an arm’s length.
- Allow to cool before tasting and adjusting the flavours accordingly with salt, sugar and rice vinegar.
To prepare the chilli sauce:
- Wash and remove the green tips of the chilli before roughly chopping them up.
- Remove the seeds of the chilli to dial down the heat if you need.
- Add all the ingredients into a blender. Blend and adjust the taste accordingly.
To prepare the Xi’an dry spice mix:
- Toast all of the spices separately and lightly until they release their aromas.
- Grind all the spices together.
To prepare the chicken thighs:
- Pat the chicken thighs dry and season both sides with the Xi’an dry spice mixture.
- Fill a deeper pan with rapeseed oil and on low-medium heat, add in the chicken thighs skin-side down.
- Use the bottom of a clean and heavy pot to press down on the chicken thighs, ensuring that the skin is flat and shallow-fried until crispy for about 3 – 5 minutes.
- Once the skin is crispy, flip the chicken and cook on the other side for another 1 – 2 minutes.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pan.
- Once the butter turns light brown and starts foaming, tilt the pan towards you and start spooning the butter continuously over the chicken.
- Remove and let cool on a drying rack, skin side up once it is cooked. This will prevent condensation and allow the skin to remain crispy.
- Pat dry with kitchen towels to remove excess oil and season with more of the Xi’an dry spice mixture and salt.
- Remove aromatics such as the pandan leaf, crushed garlic and ginger slices once the fragrant rice is cooked.
- Fluff the rice with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Scoop the rice into a bowl.
- Slice the chicken thighs into strips and serve with the chilli and ginger scallion sauce on the side.
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