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Dinner Tonight: Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice dish from a recent Singaporean street food demo in New York.

I'll be very honest: Hainanese chicken rice looks like one of the most boring dishes on this fair Earth.

The white chicken pieces sit atop a blob of white rice. Looks more like a meal fit for the worst of diets, as opposed to a delicious Singaporean dish. While watching Anthony Bourdain in Singapore, I felt like everyone was raving about the national dish. Not only does the chicken have no color, the sucker is boiled in water. How good could this monochromatic dish be?

Awfully good, as it turns out, which we confirmed a couple weeks ago at a Singaporean street food demo in New York. The white chicken is slowly cooked and infused with garlic and ginger while the white rice cooks in the water leftover from the cooking chicken. Every ounce of this meal has a quiet, haunting flavor, which makes it the perfect foil for the ringing condiments. A garlic and ginger paste adds the zing, and a blazing hot red chili sauce, the fire. As Bourdain described on the show, how you mix the condiments with the "chicken rice" is almost as important as the dish itself. I like mine real spicy.

Since this was my first time trying the dish, my rave has to be qualified with ignorance. I found this version in Saveur. It does feel good to be completely shocked by a meal, kind of like I felt after making Batali's Chicken with Green Sauce. The total preparation takes a little over an hour, but its turning into a weekly exercise.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a co-founder of The Paupered Chef, a blog dedicated to saving time and money while enjoying food in every way possible. He sells wine for a living and lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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