July 23, 2012

Wenchang Chicken


Can you remember who was the first Hainanese you know?

As a little girl I was very interested in knowing how my Hainanese uncle speak his dialect. And that was how I found learning a language wasn't that difficult. But since he spoke better Foochow we forgot all about speaking of Hainanese and as a busy business man he did not have time for little kids ..and furthermore my aunt was sickly and we needed to interact with her more.

 In fact he was so Foochow that everyone forgot that he was a Hainanese. (May he rest in peace). All his children speak Foochow. Recently I met up with another  relative who has been working in Hong Kong and has dealings with the Hainan Island. He brings many friends to visit the island too during his spare time.

He was the one who told me about Wenchang Chicken. And thus I remember how my Foochow Aunt cooked her chicken in a special way. The chicken is "white boiled" for about 40 minutes  when a skewer comes out of the thigh area clean...the chicken then lifted up and plunged into ice cold water. the chicken is then hanged for a while to be dried in room temperature.

the chicken has to be free range and kampong chicken...

How the skin gets to be yellowish and golden too depends on a sauce made up of ginger and soy sauce and a bit of chili and lengkuas (if you like) After chopping up the chicken like in the picture the sauce is rubbed on the skin before serving..

Another way of preparing this dish is to boil the chicken in fresh coconut juice. the shell of the coconut then becomes the soup bowl and the chicken is chopped and served separetly. I have tried cooking in this way and it is really nice.

In Hainan the kampong chicken is really free range and they run around freely and are reared until they are 8-9 months old before they are slaughtered for this restaurant dish. Discerning customers would know if the chicken is too young. In Malaysia we are served chickens which are only 2 kg in weight and 3 months in age which is actually not healthy food!!

The Wenchang chicken purported originated with an Emperor in the Qing dynasty who came to visit Wenchang . A court chef brought local chickens and cooked in this particular way for the Emperor who loved the dish so much that he made an edit and declare the dish an Imperial Dish called Wenchang chicken. The township flourished ..and the rest is history. Wenchang chicken is served in Guanzhou and the Hainan Island and even in Taiwan.

the Singapore/Hainan Chicken Rice is the name given to the rice..the way how it is cooked according to some chefs...the chicken served may not be Wenchang chicken (in preparation) as it is more the white boiled chicken of Guangzhou....But then we all can try to study the origins of our chicken dishes and the chicken rice that we like so much....

try cooking chicken in fresh coconut juice for your backyard!! But do prepare the very important sauce to drench the chicken before serving....The chicken should be free range and reared at least up to 6 months...


Ann said...

a friend in west malaysia tells a crude joke about the Hainanese.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I have never heard of such a joke...hahahahah

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