As we entered the second month of lockdown, our ready-to-eat food supply at home had dwindled. No one else in our household cooked. With all of my activities temporarily banned, I decided to step into the kitchen.
As it turned out, cooking loved me! Armed with my chemistry knowledge from college, I turned the kitchen into my lab. My first try at Hainanese chicken rice was a hit with my audience—my wife. She loved it so much she asked me to cook more to send to our families.
My family was so impressed that they urged me to make it into a business. My first order came from my sister, who sent it to her clients, and we fondly call it her “dealmaker chicken.”
This epic dish is an evolution coming from 500 chickens I personally handled, carefully documenting each step in each element for the dish: the soup, the rice, the chicken and the sauces. Each of these elements is meticulously produced.
As the lockdown eased, we were able to visit and gather with our extended family. Eager to showcase my newfound cooking skills, I prepared this fried chicken for lunch.
During our meal, I noticed my 9-year-old nephew kept going back to the buffet table. He had seven pieces! That’s almost one whole chicken! He loved it so much, he asked me to cook it again on his birthday. I still cannot believe he ate that many pieces.
1 whole chicken
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tsp thyme
¼ c olive oil
Thaw the whole chicken. Spatchcock or butterfly the chicken—this is the most important part. This allows heat to be distributed evenly and efficiently all over the bird. Towel dry.
Season with salt and pepper. Leave for 30 minutes. If not in a hurry, dry in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Right before cooking, slather all over with olive oil. Preheat air fryer at 200°C or the maximum temperature for five minutes. Place chicken in the air fryer and cook for five to six minutes per side or until golden. You can also check between the thighs if it is no longer red and juices run clear.
Air fryers can be different and can take as long as 10-15 minutes per side.
Remove from air fryer and let the chicken rest for five minutes. Carve and serve. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author loves to cook every day and believes that the best nutrition is knowing what goes into your food. Follow him at @homeboyhainanese on Instagram and Facebook.
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