Hainanese Chicken Rice

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I’ve gotta admit, it’s been a rough week over here but I dread the upcoming weeks even more.

I’ve been waking up as early as 5 a.m. with Mark on weekdays even though I have no reason to be up that early at all. I can’t seem to shake away ominous thoughts and I carry on through the day feeling constantly anxious and worried.

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But the weekend is finally here and it’s warm and sunny and I plan to savor every bit of it. Mark and I ran errands today because we’re grown up and married now and that’s what grown up people do. We chose to take his car so we could put the top down and bask in some warmth.

I’m finally at the point of my life where I have to file my taxes like an adult and of course I was clue-less. I wonder why they don’t teach you stuff like that in school. Like what steps to take so you can earn tax credits, or who qualifies as a dependent, or how to read your W-2s. What even is a W-2? I just know I needed it for tax purposes.

Regardless, we sought out a tax professional to help us with all the mumbo jumbo and I think I understood about 50 percent of the things he said to me? Mark seemed to know a great deal more so I left the Q&A session to him and just signed when instructed.

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Oh I also decided to cut off about 12 inches of my hair today! It was semi-impulsive, meaning I had been going back and forth with the idea for the past week or so and finally decided to walk right in to Great Clips and snipped it all away. I miss it already but I figured it was time for a change. As with every other aspect of our lives right now.

I just need to try and find the good in all this change. Change is always good, right?

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It was also warm, sunny and basically beau-tih-ful today so we opened all our blinds and allowed for lots of sunshine to drench and cover every corner of our home. Mark made this taco/quesadilla hybrid thing for lunch, which was pretty delicious, I have to say. It had an interesting concoction of pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese, better known as leftovers from within the fridge. He’s a breakfast master that’s evidently on his way to mastering lunch too. Soon I won’t have a kitchen to call my own anymore…

But we cracked open a beer each and peered outside our kitchen window to the neighbors and people that walked by and ate our lunch over the sink. It was simple yet sweet. I live for the little things in life.

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I’ve been intensely craving Malaysian food for — oh I don’t know, the past six months probably but have not gotten it anywhere except for that one wintry night I was in D.C. and indulged in a huge bowl of noodles. The cravings subsided for a while but everyone knows a bowl of noodles is hardly enough to satiate my longing and fondness for food from home.

So while it is impossible to get a taste of home where I live, I decided to take it upon me to recreate tastes that I grew up with but have been so far away from for so long. This chicken rice is one of the most popular Malaysian food there is. You can find simple satisfying versions of it in hot and small coffee shops in corners of towns to fancier varieties in upscale-y restaurants in the city.

Regardless of where you find yours, if you’ve ever had it, it almost always promises the rich, unmistakable taste of chicken infused with great aromatics. And if you haven’t tried, don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients. It’s honestly, incredibly simple and I pulled it off perfectly.

And that’s saying something because I used to be a college kid.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice

Ingredients:

For chicken & soup
1 pound bone-in, skin on chicken thighs or breast
1 tbsp goji berries (optional)
1 stalk green onion
1 medium sized carrot, chopped
1 thumb sized ginger, peeled and bruised
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tbsp black peppercorn
3 tbsp salt

For rice 
1 cup Jasmine rice
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 thumb sized ginger, peeled and bruised
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
A small piece of chicken fat, trimmed from chicken

For sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp chicken stock
3 tbsp garlic and shallots in oil

For ginger sauce
2 inches ginger, peeled and sliced
1 green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 lime, juiced, or 2 tbsp lemon juice
5 tbsp chicken stock

Directions: 

To make the soup and chicken, bring chicken broth, water and carrots to a boil in a deep pot. Add green onion, goji berries and chicken to the pot and turn the heat down to let it simmer. Allow chicken to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes. Once it is cooked, take chicken out and submerge in a ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Set chicken aside.

For the rice, cook garlic and shallots in chicken fat and some oil l until golden brown. Reserve 3 tablespoons of oil and garlic mixture for sauce. Stir in rice and ginger and cook for 1 minute, until small white specks can be seen on the grains of rice. Add chicken stock from pot and cook on low heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Let stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with fork.

To make sauce, add all ingredients and stir until well combined. For ginger sauce, add all ingredients into a food processor or blender and grind until fine.

To serve, place chicken back into pot and bring to a boil. Let cool for a while before slicing. Place chicken slices on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber and dress with sauce. Garnish with green onions if preferred. Serve with rice, soup and ginger sauce.

Note: This recipe can be adjusted to feed a larger crowd by using a whole chicken. Follow the same steps to make the chicken and soup, but insert green onions, ginger and goji berries into the chicken’s cavity instead. Cooking time may have to be a little longer to ensure that the chicken is cooked all the way. 

Chicken Piccata

My destination is no longer a place, rather, a new way of seeing.

I burned the chicken tonight.

In between running in and out of the kitchen to try and talk about things with Mark, I’d left the heat on too high and was gone too long so I came back to a charred piece of chicken breast. Aside from that, I’d also forgotten that I’d left a Ziploc baggie on one of the burners and had conveniently turned the burner on so I also walked into a smoky kitchen filled with toxic fumes.

Today was not one of the better days.

Temperatures plunged into the negatives in some parts of the country. I had spent the earlier part of the day catching up with my best friend, who looked lazy and snug under her covers in her New Jersey home. Here in Eastern North Carolina, meteorologists advised to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary and so I did just that.

I tried keeping busy. I took an extra long shower and made the effort to shave since I wasn’t taking the time to wash my hair. Still, there was time on my hands. Some days I feel so trapped and aimless. If you’d asked me ten years ago where I would see myself today, I would answer honestly not here. Not married. Not starting a family. Just, not yet.

But life has a funny way of springing things on you. Like how I got my first job out of college all the way across the country and then finding out it’s not what I thought it would be. I wasn’t Lois Lane but I was willing to work hard for it.

And then I fell in love.

Just when I had vowed not to fall in love. Just when I was ready to give up and shut everybody out, Mark walked into my life in the most unsuspecting way. Looking back, I guess I was alright not having anyone. I’ve had some pretty awful experiences with past relationships so taking a couple more years away from it seemed to make the most sense despite pangs of loneliness.

But our paths crossed and he came in the midst of all the change in my life. I probably wasn’t prepared for any of it but I did what they told me to do you know? Live for the moment. Seize the day. You Only Live Once.

One thing led to another and I find myself here in our quiet townhouse while he works on his computer and me coping with yet another change and the fact that I’d burned dinner.

I made chicken piccata for the first time without really knowing what it was except for the fact that I had all the ingredients I needed for it in my pantry and my refrigerator. Did not have a mallet however to pound the chicken so I used the back of a pan, which worked just fine. And it helped me let go some of that frustration as well. I’d recommend serving this with fettuccine noodles.

Chicken Piccata
Recipe from My Recipes

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
1 lemon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp butter
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Place chicken breast in between two sheets of wax paper or on cutting board with a sheet of plastic wrap to cover. Using a mallet or the back of a non-stick frying pan, pound chicken until about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Heat skillet with 1 tbsp of butter and some vegetable oil. Cook chicken on one side, about 3 minutes, until brown. Flip and cook the other side until chicken is done. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Add lemon juice and chicken broth to pan. Bring to a boil and scrape whatever bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally until gravy thickens. Pour gravy over chicken and serve.