Update on 1 May: There is a reprieve. Uncle and the land lord have agreed to an extension.
Visited Uncle Chicken Rice at Bedok Market Place today. Uncle Chicken Rice is ceasing operations at Bedok Market Place on 30 Apr 2016, and will resume business when Uncle Niven finds a new location. We quickly dropped by today as we don't know when is the next time we can taste Uncle's chicken rice again.
Observing how Uncle Niven prepares chicken rice, I picked up some tips which I can use at home :-D
Uncle Chicken Rice uses "American broiler" breed chicken, battery raised in Malaysia. Uncle uses birds of 2.1 - 2.2 kilos (without feathers and innards), as bigger birds have more flavour.
After giving the birds a good cleaning, removing any residual membrane, tissue or fat, they are tied with raffle string and cooked in a bundle in a tall custom made pot (designed by Niven's late dad, founder of the famous Sin Kee chicken rice).
The birds are dipped into the pot filled with boiling water. After adding the chicken, the water is brought to boil again with high heat. The flame is then turned down and the water with the chicken is allowed to cook in the simmering water.
While we waited for the birds to cook in the pot with slow fire, there are a lot of other work and preparations to do.
No commercial chicken stock cubes, no short cuts at Uncle Chicken Rice. That chicken flavour and aroma in Uncle's chicken rice - a big part of it comes from real chicken fat :-D
The savoury chicken oil is used to fry the blended sweet shallot, spicy garlic and bundles of fragrant pandan leaves till slightly browned and their aroma is released.
Next, add chicken broth.
Oh, that chicken stock made with all that fresh fat chicken was oh so awesomely flavoursome and aromatic, but there was not a drop for customers ;-p
Every drop went into making the chicken rice.
Finally, the rice goes in and is boiled in that flavour packed broth for about 15 minutes.
Here is how Uncle Chicken Rice's signature ginger dip is made :-D
To the roughly grated ginger, add sesame oil, chicken oil, olive oil (secret ingredient hor...) and chopped scallion, viola!
Back to the chicken, the star of the dish.
How does Niven know if the chicken ready?
Agak agak (estimate)?
Not, gasak gasak (bollocks)?
No. It's done with precision. Don't play, play.
Niven lays a wire ladle on top of the cooking chicken and cover it. When the chicken is cooked, they will float upwards and Niven can see that it is ready from the tilt of the wire ladle.
So simple ;-D
Reminds me of this joke which I first heard during my National Service days... :-D
Awwww.... look at that succulent bird.... no need to eat also know that it is soft, juicy and tasty....
Niven is swift with that chopper. He cuts through that meaty chicken as if it is tofu.
Niven chops his chicken in large chunks with bone in. I like it this way because it keeps the juices in, and with it, the natural flavours as well.
Uncle Chicken Rice's dressing sauce is relatively simple - just a dribble of ordinary bottled soy sauce sweetened with sugar, and a splash of peanut oil.
Niven has so much confidence in his chicken's natural flavours that the sauce is provided almost perfunctorily.
I am all with Niven, even requesting him to add the sauce to the side on my plate clear of the chicken, so that I can taste the chicken neat, without interfering flavours from the dressing sauce.
Uncle Chicken Rice cook their birds through 100% and yet still retain it's juicy tenderness as well as natural chicken flavours.
Kudoes to Niven as average chicken rice stalls achieve the same juicy tenderness by cooking the chicken pink i.e. about 80%.
Even the chicken breast, which is the hardest part to get right, came out only slightly firmer than tofu and also has the lovely chicken flavour.
For the drum stick, leg and other juicy parts, no need to say already.
Uncle's rice has just the right moistness. The mound of loose tender grains break into pearls with pillowy firmness to the bite. It has a subtle chicken flavour, a bit of sweetness and garlicky aroma.
I have a bad habit of unconsciously drizzling my rice with dark soy sauce ;-p Throwback to the old days when soy sauce and plain rice is a meal?
Thoroughly enjoyed my chicken rice today.
Uncle Chicken Rice is a one man operation. Niven does all the cooking himself and he insists on the old way, the way his late dad made Sin Kee (at Margaret Drive) a chicken rice legend. He takes orders, collects money, gives change. Niven is
Uncle Chicken Rice is here at Bedok Market Place, but only till 30 Apr 2016. After that we have to wait for Uncle Niven to resume business in a new location.
I will update this post, once Uncle Chicken Rice is back in business.
Uncle Niven will be hanging up his chicken hooks for a while.
->> If you are a fan of Uncle Chicken Rice, you have a chance to taste it again before 30 Apr 2016 (12:00 noon till sold out usually around 3:00pm). After that we have to wait till Niven resumes business - we hope soon but can never know.......
Date: 17 Apr 2016
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