Ah, the classic $1 hawker stall dish — Hainanese Chicken Rice! Could we make it vegan as well? This Aromatic Hainanese-style Shroom Rice looks humble and unassuming, but packs the most pungent ginger-garlic punch that will give your tastebuds a surprise uppercut!
Hainanese Chicken Rice — rather unsurprisingly, originated from Hainan, China — but has gotten popular in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. I’m sure you’re wondering: what key components make Hainanese Chicken so unbearably good? 1) The tender, juicy chicken. 2) The aromatic rice. 3) The pungent ginger. 4) the aromatic rice. But wait, did you just write “The aromatic rice” twice?
Yes, I wrote it twice because I believe that the rice is truly the star of the dish. In fact, I find it hard to express how much I love the rice in this dish! The rice is composed of just five ingredients: ginger, garlic, yellow onion, sesame oil, and soy sauce. After caramelization, these five ingredients come together to make a charred, almost sweet flavor and a piquant aroma that is just out of this world.
Let’s talk about the Shrooms
At first sight, you might tell yourself: “Really? Mushrooms? I would be so disappointed if I bit into this and it turned out nothing like that juicy, tender chicken I’m used to.” And to be frank, although I’ve tweaked the cooking style to get the eryngii mushrooms as close to chicken as possible, it’s still quite a different texture. However, I’ve grown so much more fond of mushrooms since I’ve started working with them. Why? By working with these mushrooms, you: 1) Lift the need to butcher a whole chicken. 2) Save time! Prepare the dish within 30 minutes. 3) Eat much healthier and lower your cholesterol intake.
So I asked the question, how do we make mushroom resemble chicken, both appearance and texture wise? Appearance is the easy part. You just have to slice the mushroom length-wise in large chunks — don’t they already look like slices of chicken? Eryngii mushrooms (or other oyster mushroom varieties) are very good for imitating meat because they already have lengthy fibers that resemble meat. Thus the only thing that’s left for you to do is to cook them a certain way. Check out my Peking “Duck” Recipe, which uses a similar technique.
In this recipe, I roasted them in the oven for a good 30 minutes. The outer layer of the mushroom becomes slightly shriveled and dehydrated, while the middle remains juicy and tender. Excited to try this? Without further ado, let’s get cooking!