My idea of comfort food is this very dish! Its refreshing and tasty, like eating a good chicken salad with the most scrumptious rice made from its chicken stock. My mum would whip this up for my brother and I when we came home from school and would eat it in front of Home & Away and Neighbours.
Because I love it so much, I once made this dish for a boy (who could have just been the love of my life that I let slip away) but he couldn’t really eat it because he has a strange fear of chicken’s back! (I used a whole chicken instead of thighs)! ophhff! But I am always reminded of him every time I go near a chicken’s back. He still plays the double bass for Michael Buble and I met him about 8 or 9 years ago when no one knew who Michael Buble was at his first performance in London at Ronnie Scotts. The Double Bass Player walked straight up to me with the courage of a lion and asked me if I had enjoyed the show in his New Yorker accent and asked to take me out for a drink and we couldn’t stop talking for the rest of the 5 day stay that they had in London. Whenever, Buble would be in town for a concert or for TV, we would meet.
Sometimes you don’t realise when you are having it until you look back years later and say to yourself, those were the best days of my life! And they always involve this dish!
If you can’t get rau ram (from Hackney’s many supermarkets) you can use coriander or thai basil instead. Its also good with regular mint. You can easily grow rau ram aka hot mint or Vietnamese coriander – you can purchase these plants at Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney on Sundays.
Serves 2 – 3
total cooking time 45 mins
3 chicken thighs (460g)
1.2 litres of water
1 knorr chicken stock cube
1 med red onion
3 tbs cider vinegar (aspall)
3 tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
10 stems of hot mint (rau ram) (20g)
10g coriander with stem
200g basmati rice
1 clove garlic
10g red onion
350ml chicken stock (from poaching chicken)
1 knob butter
2tbs Three Crabs Brand fish sauce
2 tps caster sugar
1 birdseye chilli
1tbs cider vinegar (aspall)
2 tbs chicken stock (from poached chicken)
Place chicken thighs in a pot with a lid with 1.2 litres of fresh cold water.
After about 7 minutes when the water boils, remove scum that surfaces then add a stock cube.
The chicken cooks for 30 mins in total
Meanwhile, slice the red onion as thinly as you can and pickle with vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl, mixing occasionally.
Wash and drain the rice. Save 10g (ends of) red onion and chop finely with a clove of garlic and sweat on low heat with a knob of butter in another (non stick) pot with a lid. Add the rice to soak up the flavours. You should be within 20 mins of poaching the chicken, take out 350ml of chicken stock and pour onto the rice with a pinch of salt and cover. This technique cooks the rice as well as steams it. Continue to cook the chicken. Once the rice comes to the boil, turn to low heat and continue to cook for 15 -20 mins, stirring occasionally.
Wash the herbs and leave to dry. Remove the stem of hot mint but leave coriander stems.
Prep the ginger, garlic and chilli for the sauce by finely chopping them together into a paste and make the dipping sauce by mixing it together with the fish sauce, vinegar and sugar. To make the sauce lighter, add in 2 tbs of the chicken stock.
After 30 mins, the chicken should be cooked, take out and rest for 10 mins while the rice is still cooking. The stock can be saved for other dishes.
Chop the herbs coarsely, (1cm).
Remove bones from the chicken and tear the thighs along the grain into a bowl. Discard the skin. Mix together with the pickled onions (do not add the pickling juices) and herbs, add a pinch of pepper.
Serve with rice and dipping sauce. The chicken salad should be served at room temperature.
Traditionally in separate bowls.