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