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Malaysian Chicken and Rice

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 109

Zak Pelaccio likes to wrangle big flavor from simple ingredients, and this dish is no exception. It may look unassuming, but trust us—it’s a veritable flavor bomb. Spicy ginger, fresh garlic, and salty fish sauce add savory depth to the chicken, and the crisp layer of golden rice on the bottom of the pot is good enough to fight over.

  • 5 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 (1-1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 (3-lb.) chicken
  • Sea salt
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3 Tbs. grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 4 Thai bird or 2 jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 medium scallions, light-green and white parts thinly sliced crosswise; green tops sliced into 1-1/2-inch-long slivers and submerged in cold water until serving
  • 2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar

Combine 2 Tbs. of the fish sauce with the garlic and ginger in a small bowl.

Put the chicken on a cutting board. Using a sharp cleaver or chef’s knife, disjoint the chicken into drumstick, thigh, wing, and split-breast pieces. Chop each breast half crosswise into 4 pieces (you’ll end up with 8 chicken breast pieces plus 2 wings, 2 thighs, and 2 drumsticks). Put the chicken in a large bowl and rub with 2 tsp. sea salt and the fish sauce mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a dishtowel and set it aside.

Put the rice in a large sieve, submerge the sieve in a large bowl of cold water and swish the rice with your fingers until the water turns milky. Lift the sieve out of the water, discard the water, and fill the bowl with fresh cold water. Repeat until the water is clear when the rice is swished, 2 to 3 more times. Shake as much water from the rice as possible and then turn it out onto the towel-lined pan. Spread the rice in an even layer and set it aside to dry completely, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Heat an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and the rice, spreading it out into an even layer. Let the rice sit for 1 minute, stir, and let it sit for another minute. Repeat until the rice is somewhat translucent, 2 to 3 more times. Add the chicken broth and 1 cup water. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for exactly 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the chiles in a small bowl and cover with the remaining 3 Tbs. fish sauce; set aside. Put the thinly sliced scallions in a small bowl and cover with the rice vinegar; set aside.

Arrange the drumsticks, thighs, and wings in a single layer on top of the rice. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes; then quickly add the breast pieces to the pot. Cover and cook until the chicken pieces are firm and spring back when lightly pressed, 40 to 45 minutes longer. Turn off the heat and bring the pot to the table.

Remove the scallion greens from the water, pat with a paper towel to dry, and put them in a small bowl. Uncover the chicken and rice and serve directly from the pot—be sure to serve each person some of the crusty, golden-brown rice from the bottom of the pot. Garnish with the scallion tops and serve with the chile-fish sauce and the scallion vinegar on the side.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 670; Fat (g): fat g 33; Fat Calories (kcal): 290; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 7; Protein (g): protein g 50; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 40; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 12; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 3070; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 140; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I agree with other reviewers, this was no where near done after 45 minutes. And the flabby skin is not at all edible. Really not very good; a bomb of a recipe, indeed

Don't understand the negative reviews... This recipe is a keeper. Have made it twice, so far, and will definitely make it again. Did not have any problems with the directions as written. Smells great cooking, too! :-) Oh --- i do make ONE substitution.... i'm not a fan of fish sauce (or, seafood taste, in general), so i made up my own substitute by mixing soy sauce with simple syrup. other than my personal aversion to fish sauce, this recipe is fine as is. :-)

I loved it. I can see some people who are not used to Chicken cooked without browning have might have hard time with this one. I made more than enough fish sauce mix and dressed a baby spinach and poached egg salad. Jalapeno was wonderful on the eggs.

I used a cast iron dutch oven to prepare the chicken. I marinated the chicken with the garlic, ginger and fish sauce (Tiparos) for 6 hours. I cooked the chicken an additional 10 minutes. I squeezed a fresh lime, grated lime zest, and few leaves of mint as well as the sliced peppers and scallions over the dish before serving. Served with a Chateauneuf du Pape. Oh it was tasty. Loved the texture of the rice. Worth the subscription price of the magazine for that recipe.

There are a lot of so-so reviews for this recipe, but I loved it!! I didn't find the chicken "flabby" at all. For me the chicken skin just sort of melted into the rice and made everything more delicious. And I LOVED the super simple fish sauce, garlic, ginger marinade. It definitely took more than 45 minutes to cook through, though!! I think I had the heat a little TOO low initially. My advice: Don't skimp on the garlic and ginger, and don't turn the heat too low.

This has to be the worst recipe Fine Cooking has ever published. It took longer to cook than listed, the rice was dull, and the chicken skin was nasty. I think the chicken should be browned first, and the garlic and ginger sauted before adding the rice.

I had such high hopes for this, and I think it turned out exactly the way it was supposed to, but I just did not care for the taste, the smell, or the look of the finished dish (loved the crusty rice bits, though). It gets three stars because the recipe is well-written, clear, easy to follow, and yields a finished dish that is exactly as described. I was a little concerned that the chicken wouldn't cook over such low heat, but it did. My biggest problem with the dish was the flavor... I like fish sauce, but I found it overpowering in this dish (my husband declared the whole thing "shrimpy," LOL). Additionally, the chicken skin was pale and flabby, not at all delicious. I may try the method with a different flavor package, using a soy sauce/mirin combo in place of the fish sauce, and throroughly browning the chicken before placing it on the rice (with a trip under the broiler to recrisp the skin at the end if necessary).

This recipe is not a "flavor bomb", it's just a bomb. It had almost no flavor at all, and the chicken was an unappealing, uncooked, pale color with rubbery skin. The crusty brown rice on the bottom was delicious, however.

Excellent dish. Reminds me of a similar chicken and rice dish I had in Singapore. I marinated the chicken for an hour and it came out nicely flavorful. The crunchy rice on the bottom was excellent! To add to the chicken flavor I sauteed the rice in chicken fat which I had leftover from stock making.

Liked the idea but the chicken was way too salty. I may have marinated to long, I would make again but be very careful on the salt content. I most likely would not add the salt plus fish sauce to marinade. I also found I needed to allow for extra time on heat to develop crispy bottom.

Very disappointed.The idea is wonderful, but cooking on low heat yields raw chicken. Had to make last minute adjustments to make it work. After cooking time, remove the chicken and saute on both sides to brown. Clean skillet add small amount oil. Make a roux and add chicken stock making a tasty thin gravy. Return chicken to sauce and simmer to done. Serve with the rice which was excellent.

I was disappointed in this recipe. the rice was delicious but the chicken was lacking flavor. It needed some more spices or chili sauce. The fish sauce was salty and gave it a off taste.

Just made this tonight and it was very good. Made it exactly as written with the exception of the grapeseed oil as I didn't have any - I just used canola oil. The crusty rice on the bottom was sooo good. I may want to add some additional heat next time. The chiles in fish sauce was good, but was only spicy if you bit into a chile slice. I think we might enjoy a more pervasive heat by adding some sambal oelek or sriracha. Just enough to make your mouth happy.

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