This year has sped by and suddenly we are at the end of May and slap bang in the middle of the eldest teens’ GCSE exams. With just two more weeks and ten exams to go, I can see light at the end of the tunnel not only for him, but for me! I know its not me taking the exams, but it is me who is fretting and nagging that he isn’t studying enough, or he seems far too laid back! However, I do know his nature is slightly stoic and probably under that calm exterior he has his own concerns and anxieties, and I hope that he could just be confident with his preparation and is taking it all in his stride.
Feeding the teens and family meals are even more important at times like this – especially as he is at home on study leave in between his exams and has a tendency to snack and eat instant noodles for lunch – or even worse, a Subway or Macdonalds on the way home! So my focus for dinner has been to try and cook healthy balanced meals which will give him slow release energy and is tasty and nutritious. As it has been quite warm, we’ve been enjoying simple barbecued meat or fish accompanied by a tangy slaw and a black bean and corn or quinoa salad – the joys of a gas barbecue means even when I get in from work, we can still have dinner within an hour.
Inspired by an old favourite, Hainanese chicken rice, which is delicious but time consuming, I decided to come up with my own quick version of it. I have managed to capture the essence of the flavours, yet have used brown rice and chicken breasts to make it a little healthier.
Quick (non-traditional) Chicken Rice
3 cups of brown rice – rinsed
1 onion – chopped finely
1 clove of garlic – minced
2 Tbs ginger – minced
2 Tbs Soy sauce + more to serve
1 Tbs shoaxing wine
5 Spring onions – shredded
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Using a pan which has a tight fitting lid, heat the oil and then add the onion, 1/2 the ginger and the garlic. Fry on a gentle heat until soft.
Take the chicken breasts and marinate with the remaining ginger, the shoaxing wine and the soy sauce.
Add the rinsed and drained rice to the pan and stir to coat and mix with the onions, ginger and garlic. Add the salt and then pour over the boiling water until it is 1.5 cm over the rice.
Reduce the heat down to a simmer.
Bring this all the boil and let the water reduce until it is just above the top of the rice.
Place the chicken breasts and the spring onions on the top of the rice and put the lid on tightly. Leave on a low heat for 15-20 minutes then turn it off and leave for 10 minutes before serving.
The heat from the rice and the steam it creates as it cooks will cook the chicken through keeping it tender and moist. In turn, the chicken will help flavour the rice.
Sprinkle with a little soy sauce before serving.
I made a type of ginger chilli sauce with grated ginger, chopped red chilli and some soy sauce – not quite the hainanese one, but it was a quick alternative. I served the chicken rice with this and some steamed Pak Choy.
It was a bowlful of deliciousness which satisfied the hungry teens with their adventurous tastebuds and healthy appetites, whilst giving us a little taste of the Singapore hawker centres I frequented as a child.