Saturday, February 07, 2009

Vegan Hainan 'Chicken' Rice

I veganized Hainan Chicken Rice dish( a Malaysian chicken and rice dish). Unlike other vegetarians who don't like mock meats, I like them and don't mind them at all. I cook dishes with mock meats sometimes. I still order mock meats in vegetarian restaurants, too. Maybe because I ate meat for the 35 years of my life? Who knows? If I became a vegetarian when I was a teenager, it maybe a different story now. That's my theory.

I used to eat Hainan Chicken Rice dish when I was eating meat and growing up in an Asian country. With the help of VegeFarm Vegan Chicken Breast (the 5th product on the list) that I found in a nearby HFS, I was able to veganize it. It needs some additional tricks to make it delicious: kombu broth, dried shiitake mushrooms, and tamari or soy sauce. These items add umami or an essence of deliciousness to this dish.

To begin with, the 'chicken breast' is simmered in a gingery and garlicky kombu broth with the shiitake mushrooms for 45 minutes. Then, I took out the 'breast' and mushrooms and let them rest. Next, I made the rice by using the broth the 'chicken' is simmered in (that's why it's called 'chicken' rice). Traditionally, white long grain rice is use but I used brown jasmine rice instead. Although, brown basmati rice will do. Malaysian uses pandan leaves in their rice and also some coconut milk with the chicken broth. This kind of rice is called nasi lemak. However, I didn't have pandan leaves and opted out to make a lesser fat rice dish. Therefore, I used lemon grass that I have in my garden and no coconut milk. While making the rice, I prepared the chili dipping sauce by combining lime juice, Asian style chili sauce, minced garlic, sugar/agave nectar, and some more of the cooking broth.

In both pictures above, in plating the dish for each person/consumer, the rice and 'chicken' are accompanied by sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes, sauteed shiitake mushrooms, left over broth, chili dipping sauce, and hoisin sauce. Traditionally, the warm rice is molded into a rice bowl and inverted over on the serving plate. Since it is a dry dish, sliced 'chicken' can be dipped into the condiments or the broth. The other way to eat it is that the broth and condiments can be poured over both the 'chicken' and rice. Either way is good.

I made kombu/shiitake broth ahead of time and usually freeze this kind of broth as I use it a lot in my cooking. I use kombu/shiitake broth in making miso soup and other kind of soups, too. Kombu/shiitake broth is healthy and has a lot of umami in it. It is easy to make:

6 cups water
1 dried kombu (5 by 6 inches)
6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms

Simmer the mixture above for 30 minutes. Strain broth. Discard kombu and reserve shiitake mushrooms for other cooking use.

The recipe below only serves 2 people but it can be doubled.

Vegan Hainan 'Chicken' Rice
Serve 2

Ingredients for 'Chicken':

1 VegeFarm Vegan Poultry-Free Chicken Breast or any vegan chicken breast(see sources below)
5 stalks green onion (white parts only, reserve the green parts), chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped finely
3 Tbsp. garlic, chopped finely
1 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce
5 cups Kombu/shiitake broth (recipe above)
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp. roasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. vegetarian chicken broth powder such as Chiknish
1 tsp. salt

1 Cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 Tomato, sliced
Cilantro sprigs
Fried Shallots(brambang goreng)
Vegetarian Hoisin sauce

To prepare 'Chicken':
  1. Put all ingredients above (except garnishes and the green part of green onions) in a medium size pot.
  2. Heat it with a medium high heat until broth started to boil. Then, lower it to simmer.
  3. Let it simmer for 45-50 minutes, covered.
  4. Take out the 'chicken' breast and the shiitake mushroom, and let them rest on a plate. Strain and reserve broth(about 4 cups left) to cook 'chicken' rice below.
Ingredients for 'Chicken' Rice:
1 1/2 cups brown jasmine rice, washed, rinsed, and drained
3 cups of cooking broth for 'chicken' (if coconut milk is used, replace part of broth with coconut milk, about 1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. roasted sesame oil
1 stalk fresh lemon grass, cut in pieces or 2 or 3 pandan leaves
more salt, if need

To prepare 'Chicken' Rice:
  1. Heat sesame oil in a medium pot over a medium high heat.
  2. Saute minced garlic for a few seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add rice into the pot and stir for about 3-4 minutes in oil and garlic.
  4. Add cooking broth and pandan/lemon grass.
  5. Taste for more salt as needed.
  6. Cover and cook for 45 minutes until broth is absorbed and rice is cooked. The optional way is to use a rice cooker (put sauteed rice, broth, and pandan/lemon grass in a rice cooker).
Ingredients for chili dipping sauce:
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. 'Chicken' broth (from reserved cooking broth above)
2 Tsp. sugar/agave nectar
4 Tsp. Chili garlic sauce (Asian style like Sriracha)
1/2 Tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 Tsp. salt

To Prepare for Chili dipping sauce:
Combine ingredients above . Pour sauce into small condiment dishes for each individual serving.

To Serve:
  1. Saute the 'Chicken' breast and cooked shiitake mushroom on a small frying pan until a bit brown (a few minutes). Slice 'chicken' horizonally with a sharp knife.
  2. Mold brown rice in a rice bowl and invert it over to a serving plate. Sprinkle fried onions on top.
  3. Heat reserve broth. Add chopped green onions (the green parts).
  4. Arrange garnish and sliced 'chicken' on the serving plate with the rice for each person. Serve with condiments individually: broth, chili dipping sauce, and hoisin sauce.
  5. This dish can be served warm or in a room temperature.

I served sauteed kale, mushrooms, and onions with this dish.

Other on-line sources for vegan chicken breast: Vegieworld, Follow Your Heart and Gardein.


Eva said...

Wow. You are amazing.

Jen Treehugger said...

So good to see you back!
I just LOVE your blog and all the foods you prepare are mouth wateringly amazing! It all looks so fab. Thanks for all the recipes and the links.
Do you have a tried and tested recipe for making Hoisin Sauce I wonder?

spiceislandvegan said...

Thank you! I had family crisis from Sept. - Dec. last year. Both our moms were ill. I lost my mother-in-law right after Christmas. We had a really sad Christmas. I love my MIL very much. She will be missed very much(I missed her emails already) and she was one of my blog's fans, too.

I don't have a recipe for making Hoisin sauce. It is very easy for me to get this sauce since I live 5 minutes away from a big Chinese supermarket(lots of vegetarian choices). I am kind of spoiled and don't make condiment myself because of the availability of vegan stuff in my area.

One person who I know can do this or may have a recipe is Bryanna Grogan, you can ask her at
she lives in an island where it's hard to get stuff and has to order on-line. But she is very creative. She makes her own 'chicken' broth powder, vegan parmesan, vegan oyster sauce, tofu feta, vegan mayonnaise, etc. She is amazing!

steph said...

Just very recently I have been thinking about giving Hainan Chicken Rice a go, but now goaded on by your recipe I am definitely going to try it soon! Oh, how I used to love it so, it was one of my favourites. Yours looks fantastic, just the way it should look.

mangomagic said...

Great recipes thanks!

In case you were wondering you can get pandanus leaves at Temple of Thai dot com.

Clotilde M. said...

Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing.

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