After watching Crazy Rich Asians recently, the tantalizing flavours of Southeast Asia have been all that’s on my mind. Satay, laksa, rendang and nasi lemak–just listing the famous foods of Singapore and Malaysia will cause me to salivate. And while these foods have a big place in my imagination, they do not have enough exposure in my kitchen. Honestly, I think it’s because recreating these dishes requires about 30% more effort than most other dishes to source and recreate. And oftentimes, they fall flat compared to the food stalls of your dreams. However, this is one recipe (largely adapted from one of my favourite blogs, Lady and Pups). that will satisfy your craving, and is actually a lot easier than it would appear at first glance. Plus, you can make it all in one pot!
The perfect vessel for this project is the Le Creuset Oval French Oven. Like many people, I have a classic Le Creuset Round French Oven at home which is good for almost anything. However, the Oval French Oven (mine is in the colour Blueberry and in 4.7 L) is perfect for all your poultry needs. The key to success here is efficiently combining all your ingredients in an effortless manner, and keeping the heat evenly distributed to make sure that everything cooks evenly and fully. You’ll use the French Oven to stir the rice on the stovetop at first, and then put in the oven to get that crispy rice (one of the most addictive things you’ll ever eat) and the most succulent chicken. The chicken fat will also incorporate itself into the rice, and the rice will keep the chicken moist. Have you ever heard of anything more harmonious?
Malaysian Turmeric Chicken Rice
A tantalizing blend of flavours married together in an Oval French Oven
- 1 whole chicken approximately 3-4 lbs
- 3 cups jasmine rice, washed
- 5 cups coconut milk
- 6 tbsp butter
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 4 bird's eye chilis
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro save some for garnish
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp ground turmeric
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 5 slices ginger
- 1 tbsp honey or sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
Rinse and clean out the cavity of the chicken, then pat dry with a paper towel and set aside.
In a food processor, combine butter, turmeric, garlic, ginger, one handful of chopped cilantro, chilis, fish sauce, and a little hit of salt and pepper until you have a nice, even-textured paste. This is your turmeric butter paste. SPLIT THE MIXTURE IN HALF.
Using your fingers, delicately separate the chicken skin from the meat, while being careful not to tear anything. Take half the turmeric butter paste and spread most of it generously underneath the chicken skin. Take a thin layer of the turmeric butter paste and spread over top of the entire chicken.
Preheat your Le Creuset Oval French Oven on the stove for approximately 5 minutes on medium heat before adding 1 TBSP of the reserved turmeric butter paste, followed by your rice.
Stir the rice together with the turmeric butter paste in your French Oven until the grains of rice are evenly yellowed. Slowly and gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the coconut milk and the 2 cups of chicken stock, stirring consistently. Plenty of excess liquid should be expected.
Slap the lemongrass stalks a few times on the countertop in order to release the flavour. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise and crosswise and place 3 on top of the rice (save 1 of the stalks for later). Cover your rice with the French Oven lid and cook in oven for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove the rice from the oven and give the mixture a quick stir to redistribute the grains of rice.
Leaving the French Oven uncovered, place the chicken BOTTOM SIDE UP onto the rice mixture. Put chicken and rice back into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
While the chicken and rice are in the oven, make your coconut sauce. Combine the remaining coconut milk in the can with 2 TBSP of the reserved turmeric butter paste, the remaining lemongrass stalk, and the honey or sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 30 min. Add salt and/or pepper as desired.
After the first 30 minutes is up, use wooden or silicone tools to remove the chicken and rice from the oven and flip the chicken BREAST SIDE UP onto the rice. Use a basting or silicone brush, spread 1 TBSP of reserved turmeric butter paste onto the chicken as evenly as possible. Place back in oven and cook for another 30 min.
If desired, set the oven to "broil" for a final 10 minutes to achieve maximum crunch on the rice, and crisp on the chicken skin.
When ready to serve, chop/slice chicken into large pieces onto a plate or wooden board. Serve the rice as-is in the French Oven, or in small bowls. Pair with the coconut sauce, some fresh cilantro, and some chopped cucumber and tomato if desired.
As with all recipes using turmeric, be careful with the tools you use, and the clothing you wear, as turmeric will stain like nobody's business. Don't worry - your enamelled cast iron will be just fine.