I may never how to make authentic Singaporean chicken rice, so I decided to create a contemporary spin on the ubiquitous Singaporean dish by fusing it with one of my favorite all-American applications: the chicken wing.
I discovered chicken rice at the famed Maxwell Hawker Center during my trip to Singapore over the summer. When I realized I'd very likely never be able to recreate its simple perfection, I scribbled a bunch of theories in my notebook, took them home, analyzed them and came up with this "best of both worlds" solution.
Ginger is necessary — it's in the brine, the glaze and the rice. As much spicy, fragrant ginger flavor as you can fit in there is how close you'll get to the hawker stall original. But the sheer novelty of the first bite of each of your wings containing a mouthful of gingery rice should be enough to shock those who believe there is no new way to re-invent the wing. There most definitely is.
For the brine
- 6 chicken wings, separated at the joint (12 total pieces)
- 1 gallon water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 (3-inch) piece ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
For the rice
- 1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed well
- 1 (2-inch) piece ginger root, very finely grated
For the glaze
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 (2-inch) piece ginger root, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon turbinado or raw sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
For the brine:
- In a large pot, bring water, salt, sugar and coarsely chopped ginger to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Add chicken wings to pot, cover and refrigerate overnight.
For the rice:
- Cover the rinsed rice with 2 cups of water in a small pot, add a little salt and bring to a boil.
- Gather the finely grated ginger in your fingers and squeeze the liquid out into the rice, reserving the fibrous shreds. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to sit covered for another five minutes.
- Fluff with a fork to loosen up the grains and set aside to cool.
For the glaze:
- Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a small saucepan, then fry the coarsely chopped ginger for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce, chicken stock, peppercorns, sugar, mirin and garlic, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until glaze coats the back of a spoon.
For the wings:
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Fry the wings until browned and almost cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, then transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet, brush very lightly with glaze and preheat oven to 375F.
- Bake wings for 10-15 minutes or until skin is crispy, then allow to cool slightly, enough to handle.
- Toss in a large bowl with the rest of the glaze to coat, then, using a small sharp knife, make a thin slit between the skin and meat in each wing and slide a finger in to loosen the skin slightly.
- Fill the pouch with as much rice as you can, avoiding the ginger chunks and allowing some rice to poke out slightly. Serve at room temperature.