Malaysian Chicken and Crispy Rice
Big Flavor and Irresistible Crispy Rice
Adapted from a recipe by Zak Pelaccio that originally appeared in Fine Cooking magazine.
- Servings: 4.
This recipe was created by Chef Zak Pelaccio whose Fatty Crab and Fatty 'Cue restaurants are loved for their mix of Southeast Asian flavors. In this dish he combined a simple braised chicken with a foundation of rice that has been slowly crisped to golden brown. It's served with big tastes from simple ingredients, including scallions, jalapeños and Thai fish sauce.
Unlike chef Pelaccio's version, I've added a step of briefly browning the chicken before adding to the rice-bottomed pot; this adds to the flavor and prevents the skin from becoming unappealingly flaccid and pale. And I've skipped the step of cutting a whole chicken into pieces, instead using drumsticks and thighs, still on the bone and ready to cook. You can also make this dish with chicken breasts but choose ones with their skin and on the bone, and reduce the cooking time in the pot by 10 minutes.
Don't rush the rinsing and drying of the jasmine rice because this is key to getting the rice crispy and golden at the bottom of the pot.
- 5 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 (1-1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
- 6 to 8 pieces of chicken drumsticks and thighs, skin left on and left on the bone, about 3 pounds total
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- 3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil plus 1 tablespoon for browning the chicken
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 jalapeño chiles, very thinly sliced crosswise (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
- 8 scallions, light-green and white parts thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- Combine 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce with the garlic and ginger in a small bowl.
- Put the chicken in a large bowl and rub with 2 teaspoons salt and the fish sauce-garlic-ginger mixture. Cover and refrigerate.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with a clean dishtowel and set it aside.
- Place the rice in a large, fine sieve and submerge it into a large bowl of cold water, swishing the rice with your fingers. The water will become milky. Discard the water and continue to rinse and submerge the rice several times, changing the water as often as necessary, until the water remains clear. Shake off any excess water and transfer the rice from the sieve to the towel-lined pan, spreading it into an even layer. Set it aside to dry completely, which will take about an hour.
- Using an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot that has a cover, place the empty pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the 3 tablespoons of 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 but still white, 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.
- While the rice cooks, brown the chicken pieces in the remaining 1-tablespoon of oil over medium high heat, in a large skillet. Brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes, working in batches if the pan isn't large enough to brown all the pieces at once. Hold the browned pieces aside off the heat until the rice finishes cooking.
- Arrange the browned chicken pieces in a single layer on top of the rice, skin side up. Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat for 50 to 60 minutes, until the chicken pieces are firm and spring back when lightly pressed. Turn off the heat.
- While the chicken and rice cook, put the sliced jalapeños into a small bowl and cover with the remaining 3 tablespoons of fish sauce; set aside.
- Place the thinly sliced scallions into a small bowl and cover with the rice vinegar; set aside.
- 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. Serve with the jalapeño-fish sauce and the vinegar and scallions, on the side.