Making chicken rice in the woods


Photos By DERICK WEE

Slice up the cooked chicken, add condiments and serve.

BOILING rice over a campfire can be quite challenging, especially when we’re accustomed to electric rice cookers pampering us at home.

To make learning (or re-learning) how to do it worthwhile, try this backwoods Hainanese chicken rice style using your mess tin and camp stove. This method is designed as a meal for one.

You’ll need a mess tin with a lid and a foldable camp stove wind shield to keep the fire steady.

Start with the chicken: a boneless drumstick makes for a fine treat.

Rub in some sesame oil, salt, spring onion bulbs (the fat, white ends) and sliced ginger, and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

A stainless steel mess tin with a sturdy lid is a better option than an aluminium one.A stainless steel mess tin with a sturdy lid is a better option than an aluminium one.

Next, measure the amount of rice to cook. As a rule of thumb, you will need about 150ml of rice per person.

Measuring by volume is easier because you need one part rice to two parts water.

So, if you use 150ml of rice, add 300ml of water. Rinse the rice a few times until the water is clear, then set it aside.

Sauté some sliced garlic, ginger cloves, spring onion and one pandan leaf in butter or cooking oil until fragrant. Since the mess tin has limited space, knot the pandan leaf and spring onion strands.

Knot up the pandan leaf and spring onions. Avoid slicing the garlic so you can easily remove them after the rice is cooked.Knot up the pandan leaf and spring onions. Avoid slicing the garlic so you can easily remove them after the rice is cooked.

Add the rice, stirring it to mix with the sautéed herbs, followed by water with chicken stock powder or liquid concentrate dissolved into it.

Taste the stock water to get it to your liking. Practise at home before going camping to get a feel for the right amount of stock.

After pouring in the water, put the lid on the mess tin and bring it to a boil over high heat.

Stir the rice into the sautéed herbs before adding water with dissolved chicken stock.Stir the rice into the sautéed herbs before adding water with dissolved chicken stock.

Once it boils, lower the fire to a simmer; do not open the lid. If a little liquid boils over, leave it and clean up later.

This is when your camp stove wind shield comes in handy because a steady low fire is essential. Strong winds can disrupt the fire, affecting how well the rice cooks.

After five minutes of simmering, add the boneless drumstick, laying it flat across the semi-cooked rice for better heat distribution.

Lay the boneless drumstick on the semicooked rice for better heat distribution.Lay the boneless drumstick on the semicooked rice for better heat distribution.

Continue simmering for another 10 minutes, then turn off the fire and let it sit for another five minutes.

That’s it! You’re now ready to sample your creation.

Your creation is ready to be served.Your creation is ready to be served.

Remove the pandan leaf, spring onion strands, garlic and ginger from the cooked rice. Add soy sauce or chilli if you like, or even some cucumber slices if you have them.

With a few tries (again, practise at home), you’ll become one of the rare few who can enjoy Hainanese chicken rice in the woods!

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