In my perhaps futile quest to replicate one of the best dishes we had in Singapore, I made chicken rice again last night. The major tweak since my last attempt was that I fried the raw rice grains in sesame oil and garlic before steaming it in chicken broth. The rice turned out fantastic — nutty, garlicky and aromatic, pretty much just as I remember. Despite gentle and careful poaching, the chicken still did not turn out as tender as I had hoped.
1. Heat 1 T. peanut oil and 1 T. sesame oil in a wok. Stir-fry 2 cups of uncooked rice with a few cloves of minced garlic until it begins to turn golden. Steam the rice, substituting chicken broth for water.
2. Crush an inch-long piece of skin-on ginger root and four cloves of garlic. Put in a large saucepan with a quart of chicken broth and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
3. Add 2 chicken breasts to the pot in a single layer. Bring the broth back up to the barest simmer and let the breasts poach gently for 10-12 minutes. Check for doneness, then slice.
4. While the chicken is poaching, peel an inch-long section of ginger. Put that in the food processor with 5 peeled garlic cloves and 6-8 red Thai chillis. Add dashes of fish sauce and white vinegar, pulse fine, and pour off into a bowl.
5. Whisk 2 T. soy sauce with 2 T. sugar in a small bowl. Slice a cucumber into long segments.
6. To serve, heap the rice into shallow bowls and arrange the sliced chicken on top. Spoon a bit of the broth on top to moisten, then drizzle with a bit of the sweet soy sauce. Pass the remaining soy sauce and chilli sauce at the table. Serve the remaining broth in small soup bowls. Feeds 2.