Year of the dog

Tonight is the last day of the Chinese lunar calendar. We are entering the year of the dog, particularly auspicious as we have so many dogs in the family (my father, my husband, my son), from an astrology perspective and also because many are actually… dogs.

I’ve been in the best of moods all week, despite the weather, cooking some Chinese favorites and enjoying various blossom branches – always the very first sign of spring. Those and the mimosas. Earlier in the week I cooked this childhood favorite, the Hainan chicken, one of the most soothing and comforting recipes I can think of. I wanted to cook something Asian to put on the blog today and while there are many other dishes with more flair and flavor – this one feels just right for the last weeks (yes I said last) of winter. It’s filled with goodness and all the things that keep the doctors away, garlic, ginger, broth.

Tomorrow I’m off to Venice with the whole family, a little adventure on a river boat but it makes me happy that I’m keeping my promise to post a recipe per week.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, loving and prosperous Chinese new year! Mimi x

Hainan Chicken Rice (serves 6)

Chinese food is not complicated, it’s just about making sure to get a few steps right! Enjoy this delicious recipe, it’s my Asian comfort food, there are so many memories linked with this dish. Growing up in Hong Kong, I would meet my best friends and we would often order this dish (especially the one at the Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, do they still serve it? I hope o!). The chicken is blanched, dropped in an ice-bath, so it can retain its moisture. I find this recipe beautiful to make, like an old-fashioned ritual. And on top of everything, it’s such a healthy dish.

For the chicken and the broth

1.5 kg whole chicken
10 cloves of garlic, halved
A large piece (about the size of your palm) piece of ginger, sliced
1 large bunch of spring onions (scallions)
2 tablespoon Shao xing rice wine
2 tablespoon light soy
4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt and pepper

For the chicken and broth

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any leftover feathers and trim excess fat (you will need it for the rice, so set aside).
Rub both the inside and outside of the chicken really well with coarse salt to ‘exfoliate’ the skin on the chicken. Rinse well and pat dry. The chicken will be smooth and ready for cooking. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Boil a large pot of water and add a few spring onion stalks, slices of ginger and 5 cloves of peeled garlic. Fill the chicken with a few more ginger slices, garlic cloves and spring onion.
Place the chicken into the large pot (neck-side down) and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse under cold water. Lower the heat and return the chicken to the pot, let it simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover with a lid and leave the chicken to stand for 30 more minutes. Place the chicken in an ice bowl for a few minutes, remove the ice cubes and leave aside to rest and cool for 20 minutes. Drizzle some sesame oil and light soya sauce on the chicken. This technique will make the chicken extra tender.

2) For the rice.

Wash the rice and soak for 20 mins. Drain dry and set aside.

In a small pan, heat the chicken fat with 1 tablespoon water and cook until the fat has melted. When the fat is hot, add a few slices of ginger and garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Transfer all the ingredients including the oil into the rice cooker and mix in the washed rice. Add enough chicken stock to cook the rice according to your favorite method. I have a classic rice cooker, and it takes approx. 15-20 minutes to cook.

3) For the broth

Re-heat the chicken stock and add salt according to your taste. I like to add a few tablespoons of Shao Xing wine for taste, but that is optional. Garnish with coriander and sliced spring onion before serving.

4) For the sauce

1 large piece of ginger (about the size of half your palm), peeled and cut into small chunks
1 bunch of spring onion (scallions), chopped
2 teaspoon sea salt, or more if you prefer
150-200 ml/ about 2/3 cup peanut oil, add more if you want a looser sauce

Place the ginger in the food processor and process until the ginger is finely minced. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat the same with the spring onions (make sure they are lightly minced). Add them to bowl with the ginger. Season generously with salt.
Heat the peanut oil in a pan until it is very hot, the add the ginger and spring onions. Stir quickly for a 5 seconds and transfer to a bowl. Leave to cool and serve with chicken.

Chop the chicken into slices (with the skin on). Drizzle with a little soya sauce and sesame oil. Serve with a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup, the ginger sauce and garnish everything with fresh coriander, sliced cucumber, and don’t forget your favorite chilli sauce too!

32 thoughts on “Year of the dog

  1. Beautiful!

    That’s a fine champagne you’re serving with it.

    Is the sesame oil that you use roasted, or not?

    Happy New Year.


  2. Thank you, Mimi, for this lovely suggestion for a healthy, surely delicious Spring meal! Wishing you a delightful stay in a favorite city, and happiness in the New Year, from cold, snowy Pennsylvania, USA, Dottie

  3. Happy Chinese New Year to you and yours. I, myself, am a rabbit.
    Thank you for the good thoughts of spring. The blossoming branches place a longing in my heart to smells the earth soon.
    Best wishes for a lovely family time in Venice!

  4. I am so glad you kept your promise this week knowing how hectic it must be getting the family ready for the trip to Venice. This post put a huge smile on my face because it made me stop and reflect about winter almost coming to an end (YEA) and looking forward to the beauty of spring’s “rebirth.”
    Oddur once again was able to capture the beautiful MImi and the “charms” of your lovely home and cooking.
    Love all the “dogs” in the family; literally!
    Have a wonderful river boat experience. I do live vicariously through you and all your adventures!
    Happy Chinese New Year!

  5. Bon Nouvel An chinois ma chère Mimi! et bon voyage à Venise, cette ville est un rêve; Si tu as des fans de Sissi, on peut voir ses appartements au musée Correr place saint marc.

    Merci pour la recette et bravo à Oddur pour les photos
    Ps; cette robe te va à merveille

  6. I can imagine the challenge of getting enough ice cubes for the chicken’s bath. When we have a big Fourth of July cookout, we go to a fish wholesaler, who sells big bags of ice chips, which we put into an old baby swimming pool to hold beer and sodas. Unfortunately, the ice chips, despite being in plastic bags, smell a bit like fish. The bags of ice sold at supermarkets would go into exactly two margaritas. This is a challenge.
    Bon voyage en italie!!!

  7. Enjoy! Venice is amazing! We stayed at the Gritti. We had restorative expressos at Bar Ducale (nothing beats Italian coffee) Mussels under pizza dough(kids will love it) at Beccafico Santo Stefano and had to hit both All”Arco and especially Cantina Do Mori because 550 years of service must count for something! Read a Donna Leon book to get you in the mood! Looking forward to some beautiful images, Venice is so photogenic.

  8. Happy New Year! Do you mind if I ask about the fabulous wrap dresses you’ve been wearing? Frivolous, yes, but I could use a style boost and they are effortlessly chic!

  9. Lovely! I will be making this with one of our own pasture raised chickens next week…I’m so excited.

    I also have a question, which may be not be easily answered but I’m going to ask anyway. We are building a home this summer, a small prairie house in Montana. But even though the contexts are completely different, I am hoping to break our kitchen out of the American norm and make it more like a French country kitchen, devoid of tidy countertops and shiny stainless steel. Especially because we cannot avoid beautifully made cupboards! Therefore I want to use old furniture and leave room for baskets of produce and cutting up chickens and children and animals. Can you tell me briefly what you have in your kitchen? I don’t see a single counter in sight! I will also have a larder, and I’m wondering if you do as well.

    In any case, thanks for your ever-inspiring glimpses of a wild and free kitchen! If you are ever in Montana….we’ll find you some delicious whiskey and butcher a fresh chicken 🙂

  10. Xin Nianh kuai le ! Thanks for the beautiful recipes! Making your dumplings and chicken soup for tomorrow! Have fun in Venice and please post your restaurant recommendations if you get a chance! Xo

  11. Ah, Mimi, I must make this lovely, aromatic recipe! It sounds absolutely delicious. I shall be following along with your IG’s during your Venice trip. Please post lots of your beautiful photographs, Oddur! Happy Year of the Dog!!

  12. Gong Xi Fa Cai, Mimi & family! Thank you for this recipe. Hainan chicken rice is my favourite but I’ve always been too intimidated to make it myself. You’ve convinced me to give it a go with this recipe tho!
    I’d also like to say I’m glad you’re posting up a recipe a week too! I’ve missed you on your blog, and am so happy to see it updated more frequently again 🙂
    Enjoy your Venice trip! I’m looking forward to the beautiful photos of your adventure and the family!

  13. Kung Hei Fat Choy to you and your family Mimi.

    This recipe also reminds me of Drunken Chicken which I also love cold with the savoury jelly.


  14. Each time I buy a fresh organic chicken I fantasise about Hainan Chicken, but just know I’ll become lost in the millions of available recipes: enter Mimi to the rescue: always simple, but spot on, delicious. Fab photos to boot.
    PS enjoy Venice, the canals and the magic food markets.

  15. I will be celebrating as well, even though I am not of Asian descent, my family has strong ties to Macao and I loooove chinese food. Dim Sum, duck, moon cakes are all on the menu, because I tend to go overboard myself!!! Happy lunar new year – I don’t think we have many dogs in my family, but we sure have mice!!!

  16. I know this is a very popular dish, but have never had it myself. Since soft chicken skin is an acquired taste to westerners, …can you say a few words about how to enjoy it? Do you savor the fattiness or the texture? It must sound silly but I’m trying to wrap my head around how to approach it. Thank you!

  17. Happy Chinese New Year Mimi, wishing you and your family good health, happiness, abundance, success and prosperity.
    Can’t wait to see photos of Venice and your river boat trip
    Best wishes and much love

  18. Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family! Just wondering if you used white pepper or black pepper for the chicken. I just moved from NYC to Anchorage AK and I miss my mom’s cooking. I’m trying to cook more Chinese food at home and your chicken recipe reminds me of home, it’s just the thing to make!

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