Friday, August 13, 2021

Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls Recipe

Hainanese chicken rice may be very common, but chicken rice balls are definitely not. 

We used to frequent the ones at Braddell and Jalan Besar, but the former has closed and the latter was supposed to return again. We haven’t been back since the pandemic so we can’t confirm. There’s another one at Jurong which was alright but somehow the ones we had at Malacca Jonker still reigned supreme. 

The Malacca ones were smaller in size, golf ball sized as opposed to the tennis ball or larger ones found here. And they had a more sticky ketupat texture with a zesty calamansi hit as well. Hence, we made ours using a mixture of different rice grains to get that texture and making ours smaller too.

The other key factor is we used the same Chicken fat used in our chicken rice cooker recipe to flavour the rice and together with the classic aromats, we found it to highly aromatic and delicious on its own. 

Start with blitzing 3 shallots, 2 cloves garlic and 6 or 8 slices ginger, basically equal portions of everything into a rempah paste. This is the key to getting your rice fragrant. Then lightly fry in oil in a pan for a few minutes until they are golden and aromatic. Trust me, your kitchen will smell like an old school Hainanese chicken rice stall.

Next take 240g or 2 fillets of boneless chicken leg with skin on and marinate them with 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp chinese wine, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp corn flour and a dash of white pepper. Mix them well and let it rest for half an hour.

Take a cup of chicken stock or plain water around 300ml water and season it with 1/2 tsp salt, or less if you prefer less salty rice. Note if you are using packet stocks, they are already salted so skip the salt here.

Add 1 cup of Japanese rice and 1/2 cup of glutinous rice. Make sure you wash and rinse the rice thoroughly before adding them to the rice cooker pot.

Tie and place a bunch of pandan leaves inside the rice cooker. Then spread the rempah paste all around the rice, followed by placing the two chicken fillets on the rice in the center. Pour in the salted chicken stock or water.

Put in the rice cooker and set it to cook at normal rice cooker mode. Once it’s done, you should get that salivating aroma of gingery shalloty garlicky aroma.

To serve, remove the chicken fillets and simply stir the rice to mix all the juices well. You may wish to squeeze a lime into the rice to give it a zesty and citrusy flavour. 

Make a sauce with 1 tsp light soya sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp honey or sugar and 1 tsp of water. Stir well and pour into a saucepan. Heat up the saucepan.

When it’s boiling, turn off the flame and add in slices of unsalted butter one slice at a time. Gently whisk until you get a creamy consistency. You may add 1 tsp dark soya sauce to give it a darker colour.

When the rice is fully cooked, open the lid and remove the chicken fillets. Add the juice from 1 lime. Give the rice a good stir to mix everything well. To make the rice balls, we recommend using a piece of cling wrap as it will help to shape the balls better. 

Simply scoop some rice into a piece of cling wrap and with your hands, shape it into a golf ball sized rice ball. Once the ball is formed, let it sit for a few seconds before removing the cling wrap and allow the rice to stick together. You should get perfect chicken rice balls.

Slice the chicken fillets into slices. Place around 4 to 5 slices of chicken and 3 to 4 rice balls on a plate for a portion. Drizzle the soya sesame sauce over the chicken. 

We highly recommend pairing this dish with the exquisite chicken rice chilli sauce from Nanyang Sauce and homemade achar as a side.

And that’s it, easy and simple to make your own Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls at home.

For more, see the full YouTube video in 4K HDR here. Be sure to subscribe and leave a like and comment.

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