Monday, March 30, 2009

Goii Buhng – February 10, 2009

*Warning: I wrote this in many different (read: conflicting) tenses because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write it up like a recipe or like a story. If you are a stickler for grammar, like I usually am, you might want to skip the text and ogle the food porn. I’m just too lazy and too hungry to edit right now.*

Goii buhng, translated literally from Teochew as “chicken rice,” is something quick and easy I like to make when I’m lazy. When I first introduced this dish to Jimmy, he was blown away by the combination of flavours. There’s spicy ginger, cooling scallions, sweet corn and peas, nutty sesame oil, salty oyster sauce, garlicky garlic oil, and uh, chicken-y shreds of chicken. Whew, I really ran out of adjectives there.

Anyway, most of these flavours are familiar in Chinese cuisine, but it’s really the combination and harmony of all the ingredients that makes this dish so delicious.

I’m not sure if this dish is a hijacked version of Hainanese chicken rice. There are some similarities, but there are enough differences to lead me to believe that they’re two separate dishes.

I started by boiling some chicken thighs in salted water for a couple of hours. I used it as a base for a soup. I then took out the chicken and shredded it, discarding the skin and returning the bones to the pot. Set aside.

While the chicken was boiling, I started making the fried garlic oil. I took half a head of garlic and minced it as finely as my patience would allow. The trick to making awesome fried garlic oil is to have the garlic in minced as evenly as possible. Large chunks of garlic won’t fry properly and will be soggy and gross. I heated up a pan with vegetable oil, and tossed in the garlic. You have to make sure that the pan isn’t too hot, or you will end up with burnt garlic oil. If you do burn it, start over. The burnt taste will ruin your dinner. It’s ready when it’s uniformly golden and wonderfully fragrant. Set aside.

I made a pot of rice. I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating how long each step takes, so I often multitask and have lots of things on-the-go. In our little rice cooker, steamed rice takes about half an hour. I like hot, fluffy rice with this, but you can certainly use some leftover rice, too.

I then started to make the ginger-scallion sauce. I minced a one-inch knob of ginger as finely as possible, and chopped up some green onions. In another pan, I heated up some oil. Once it got hot, I tossed in the ginger and green onions with a sprinkle of salt. This isn’t nearly as finicky as the fried garlic oil, so you can fry it on high heat if you like. It’s ready once you can smell the ginger. I added a teaspoon of sesame oil after removing from the heat because the smell makes my mouth water uncontrollably. Set aside.

In the soup pot, I boiled some frozen peas and corn. It cooks in less than five minutes. Set aside.

I took some oyster sauce from the fridge.

Assembling the dish itself is easy. Here’s where I branch off from how we ate it at home. My parents would give us a plate of rice, and let us put as much or as little of everything on our plate. I liked to mix it all up together so that I could eat every component in every bite. My parents, namely my mum, told me that was garbage food, and that pigs are fed that way. I reluctantly ate everything separately, in alternate bites. At the end of the meal, when I was too full to finish off the plate, I would mix it all up anyways. My parents didn’t care much since it was rarely more than a few bites left.

Without parents around, I get to eat it my way. Muahahahaha! What’s worse is that Jimmy only knows how to eat it my way, since I’m the one who introduced the dish to him. I’m a terrible influence, I know.

I put a little bit of everything in my bowl of rice...

...and mixed it all up!

It looks like crap, but trust me when I say that it’s delicious. Spicy, salty, hearty, and refreshing. Ahhhhhhhh.... Goii buhng is comfort food to the max!

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