I’ve wanted to cook Hainanese style chicken rice with fresh and dried dates still on the branch for a long time. Unfortunately, I keep getting veto-ed by my better half who thought it’ll be an unsavory dish. Pun not intended.
We had gotten two free range chicken legs for RM 18.50 from our trip to the wet market last week and one of them is still in the fridge. The other has been cooked into a wonderful Hainanese style chicken rice and I wanted to do the very same dish – except mine would be a sweet version. I finally convinced my honey with the same.
Witticisms aside, you will need:
- One whole chicken leg
- Wild flower honey
- Dates on branches
- Fresh dates
I did this with two types of dates – the sweeter dried dates and the fresh ones still on their branch I got from the Ramadan bazaar a while ago. The latter is used to flavor the rice. I measured one cup of rice and added 1 ½ cups of water to it.
This method of cooking and marinating is what I learned from my dear. The dried dates are opened up and the tiny seed taken out before being smashed for the flavor to come out. I used a whole branch of Tunisian dates, which is a sweet variety with relatively good moisture content.
I then took a good gunk (which is about 3 heaped tablespoons if you want exact measurements) of New Zealand wild flower honey – chosen for it’s refreshing and light nature – and mixed it with the mashed up dates and massaged the mixture into the chicken leg for a good 3 minutes.
I made sure to
molest caress every fold and curve of the chicken leg like a gentle lover to massage the dried dates + honey marinade into the smooth skin until it’s moist and tender.
The marinated chicken leg is then sealed into an air-tight baggie and left in the fridge for 24 hours.
The fresh dates goes into the rice before it’s cooked. I made sure to poke multiple holes into each date before it went into the pan. I also used a fork to pick apart the fresh dates so that the maximum surface area will be exposed with tiny bits going with the rice before setting it to boil.
The dried dates + wild flower honey chicken leg is placed on top of the rice just as the water starts to get hot. Don’t wait for it to boil!
The pressure pan is closed for 5 minutes on low heat to cook the chicken leg and rice. I was amazed by the fragrant sweet smell when I opened it!
The fresh date rice is mildly sweet with bits and pieces of dates embedded into the fluffy grain. It’s fragrant and goes very well with the dried date + honey marinated chicken leg. It’s sweet, but not overpoweringly so, it’s a very subtle nuance.
I liked it but I think marinating the chicken for 48 hours would do better in absorbing the sweet dried dates and wild flower honey right into the bone! :)