This is the type of meal you’ll want to share with those you love. Not only because it’s nourishing and delicious, but also because you don’t want to be the only one in the house who’s breathing out fiery chile and garlic. The aromatic chile sauce that gives this dish its fiery kick is served on the side and can be used in moderation, but we guarantee you’ll find yourself generously spooning it over your plate, unable to resist its bold, addictive flavor.
This isn’t to say that Sesame Chicken with Cauliflower Rice is a recipe only for the brave hearted. This traditional dish, typically called Hainanese Chicken and served with regular rice, is a simple and mild combination of flavors. It was Peter Yong’s favorite dish at a local restaurant and we’re glad he “Primalized” it and shared the results with all of us for the Primal Blueprint Reader-Created Cookbook Challenge.
The chicken and cauliflower that make up the heart of the meal are simmered in a soothing ginger and scallion-infused broth. After simmering, the chicken is plunged into an ice bath to halt the cooking process and seal in the moist, gelatinous texture. A post-bath massage with toasted sesame oil adds enough flavor to the chicken that you could simply dig in and eat at this point… but the real soul of the dish would be missing.
The exact ingredients that create the sauce served with Hainanese Chicken vary from cook to cook. We find Peter’s version, a bold blend of tart lime, spicy ginger and loads of garlic, irresistible. The real fire in the sauce comes from delicate-looking little peppers that are fiercer than they let on. A lot of heat and flavor is packed into a small Thai chile pepper. Removing the seeds from inside the pepper tones down the spiciness a little, but be careful – if you touch the seeds with your fingers then inadvertently wipe your eyes, you’re in for a world of hurt.
Even with the seeds removed, one Thai chile will add noticeable tongue-tingling spiciness to the sauce. Two chiles will make you sweat. If you can’t find Thai chiles, other types of hot peppers can be substituted. Habanero peppers will be a little spicier, and jalapenos a bit milder.
Regardless of how spicy you choose to make the sauce, it brings a welcome kick of flavor to the mild chicken and cauliflower and transforms the dish from simple to spectacular. If there happens to be any leftover sesame chicken, it’s fantastic in a salad the next day with, of course, just a little bit of Peter’s spicy chile sauce drizzled on top.
This dish can be served warm or cold and makes enough to feed four.
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cloves peeled garlic
- 4 slices ginger
- 4 whole scallions
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, or more to taste
- 2-3 cups cauliflower rice (cauliflower grated in the food processor)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 5 peeled and minced shallots
- 5 peeled and minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 fresh Thai chilies, with seeds removed
- 3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped ginger
- 3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped shallot
- 3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped garlic
- 3 to 4 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- sliced tomatoes
- sliced cucumbers
- chopped parsley
To prepare the chicken, wash and remove innards. Rub the chicken with salt. Crush garlic and ginger slightly with the flat of a knife and stuff the inside of the chicken with garlic, ginger and scallions.
Bring 12 cups of water (or enough to just cover the chicken) to a boil in a large pot. Add the chicken with breast side down. Simmer covered for 15- 20 minutes then turn the chicken and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes until done.
Remove chicken, draining any liquid back into the pot and reserving the stock. Plunge the chicken into ice water.
After 5 minutes, remove and drain the chicken, then rub with sesame oil and let cool to room temperature.
Prepare the sauce by blending chiles, shallots, garlic and ginger in a food processor until a paste.
Transfer into a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the reserved chicken stock while it’s still boiling hot. Add lime juice, vinegar and salt. Stir to combine and let sit while preparing the rest of the meal.
To make the cauliflower rice, process about 1/2 of a medium sized head of cauliflower in a food processor until the texture is rice like. Heat coconut oil in a saucepan. Once hot, add shallots and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant and soft. Add cauliflower rice and stir-fry another 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and 3 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the liquid evaporates to the level of the rice and steam holes appear. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
Chop chicken into bite size pieces. If you have a sharp knife or cleaver you can just chop up the meat up with the bones. Add salt and more sesame oil if desired. Serve over the top of the cauliflower rice and garnish with tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley. Drizzle the chile sauce on top.