White-cut chicken on rice, with its cool cucumber, rip-roar of coriander, bowl of broth and all-important dipping sauce, is my no.1 hawker’s rice. It’s one of those lessons in the deliciously bland, the punchy and the silken, with the cool and crunchy. And I bee-line for it as soon as I hit Bangkok. Forget the bars and temples, this is hedonist heaven. Any number of dipping sauces can be served with it. Just make it.
Submerge the chicken in a pan of well-salted water and bring to the boil, sliced removing any collecting flotsam from the surface. Add the ginger, garlic and 3 of the spring onions, turn down to a gentle bubble, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes, while the meat cooks through. Remove the chicken and strain the stock, discarding its spent flavouring bits. Remove the meat from the bone once cooled, and slice thickly crossways. Traditionally, the chicken is served at room temperature, so don’t get anxious if it cools off (if you want it hot, reheat in the stock).
Cook the rice according to the Perfect steam-boiled rice recipe, but use some of the chicken stock instead of water. Meanwhile, for the dipping sauce, pound together the ginger, garlic and salt to make a coarse paste, and - if your bunch has them - include 4 scrubbed roots of the coriander. Then stir in the vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and the oils and divide between four dipping bowls.
Pour the remaining reheated broth into bowls, adding the remaining spring onion, chopped. Pile the rice on to plates with the chicken on top, add some cucumber and a nice wodge of coriander leaves, and serve each with broth and sauce on the side. Get out the chopsticks or forks (Thais use both) and start dunking, supping on the broth between mouthfuls of rice and chicken. The broth can be splashed on too.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.