Singapore Chicken Rice and Desserts

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Chicken rice is a favourite lunch dish in Singapore served at a hawker’s stall in waxed brown paper tied up with plastic string or in the air-conditioned Mandarin Hotel on Orchard Road. It’s quick to cook, tasty and very healthy. As long as you have the ingredients, it can be ready in half an hour.

CHICKEN RICE

In a big pot (Dutch oven) on the stove, add a tablespoon of cooking oil (not olive oil) and heat.

Add:

Onion or garlic, sliced or crushed
Ginger root, sliced (no need to peel)
Bunch of green onions (spring onions), chopped
Bunch of cilantro/coriander, chopped (save some to use as garnish)
Chicken (thighs, breast)(2 or 3 per person)
Cover with water
Add Chinese soya sauce
Add a couple of packets of chicken OXO/Bovril
Bring to the boil and then simmer
Adjust seasoning (soya and OXO)

When the chicken has cooked for half an hour and the soup is tasty, take the chicken pieces out with a slotted spoon and take the skin off. Slice chicken. Serve on rice and sprinkle fresh cilantro on top. Ladle the soup into a separate bowl. On the table have individual small dishes of Chinese soya sauce and sweet Thai chilli sauce for each person to dip their chicken in. Use Chinese bowls, ceramic spoons and chopsticks. Serve with Jasmine tea.

Next day when the leftovers have been in the fridge, a coating of fat will cover the soup. Scoop it off into a paper towel and discard; reheat the soup. It will be even better.

RICE

Prepare long grain Basmati rice while the chicken is cooking. A coffee mug of dry rice is good for three people. Fill a saucepan with water, rest a sieve on the top and put the rice in the sieve. With a wooden spoon under cold running water, stir the rice until the water is clear. Lift the sieve out of the water and discard water. Put rice into saucepan and cover with fresh water (about I cm/a knuckle above the rice). Put on high heat, wait until it boils, then turn it down to simmer until the rice is dry and fluffy.

SALTED FRESH FRUIT

After hot spicy dishes, the regular dessert is a plate of sliced fresh fruit, sprinkled with salt (sea salt). The salt brings out the flavour of any fruit – oranges, apples, water apples, star fruit, watermelon, bananas or what have you. Put toothpicks into the slices so they are easy to pick up; provide a dish for the skins.

LYCHEES & ALMOND JELLY

Another cooling dessert is almond jelly and lychees. In Chinatown you will be able to buy a packet of almond jelly. Stir the powder into hot water, pour into a baking tray and put in the fridge. When it has set, cut the jelly into cubes. Empty a can of lychees (and their juice) into a bowl with the almond jelly cubes. The flavours are subtle and refreshing.

Hooray for Rice Pudding

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In the United Kingdom, rice pudding is a popular traditional dessert. The earliest rice puddings were called whitepot, as were bread and butter puddings. Gervase Markham has the first known recipe in his worthy book, The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman, published in London in 1615.

 

WHITEPOT 1615

“Take the best and sweetest cream, and boil it with good store of sugar, and cinnamon, and a little rose-water, then take it from the fire and put into it clean picked rice, but not so much as to make it thick, and let it steep therein till it be cold; then put in the yolks of six eggs, and two whites, currants, sugar, cinnamon, and rose-water, and salt, then put it into a pan, or pot, as thin as if it were a custard; and so bake it and serve it in the pot it is baked in, trimming the top with a little sugar or comfits.”

 

COMFITS: whole almonds (blanched), 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp water

Toast almonds in dry frying pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with sugar, stir to coat. When sugar melts, add water to make syrup. Coat almonds in syrup. Put on wax paper to cool. Place on pudding.

To blanch almonds, soak them in boiling water for a few minutes; the skin can be rubbed off.

 

Rice was probably introduced to Spain in the 10th century by trade from India but was not cultivated in Europe until the 15th century. Britain began to import rice from Spain and Italy at this time. Both long and short grain rice were grown but by the 17th century the risotto type of rice, Arborio, predominated in the areas exporting to Britain.

The first rice pudding recipe is a good way to use up leftover cooked rice, either short or long grained. The second recipe is German/Austrian and a show stopper at a dinner party.

 

CREAMY RICE & RAISIN PUDDING

½ cup raisins

1 cup cooked rice

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

1-2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Grated nutmeg (optional)

Put the raisins and cooked rice in a lightly buttered deep 6-cup baking dish. Heat milk and butter to scalding (not boiling). Beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla. Gradually stir in heated milk. Pour over raisins and rice. Grate nutmeg on top and set the dish in a shallow pan of water. Bake in a moderate oven (300ºF) for one hour. Alternatively, put the dish in the microwave for 20 minutes on medium power without the pan of water.

 

REIS à la TRAUTMANNSDORF

1/3 to ½ cup washed short-grained rice

Vanilla pod

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon sugar

125 ml carton whipping cream

Packet of frozen raspberries, thawed

 

In a double saucepan boil rice in milk with sugar and vanilla pod. Cook for one hour but don’t let it get too dry. Cool. Whip cream and fold into cool rice. Chill and serve with raspberries.

 

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