Rotisserie = home

Rotisserie chicken

I’ve moved into the house of an expatriate Slovenian bootlegger and as soon as I’ve set up a rotisserie, it feels like home again.

If there is a single item of cookware that I could be trapped with on a desert island, it would be the rotisserie, although only if there was an indigenous chicken or lamb population. Cooking a whole chicken any other way cheats you of pleasure. The above chicken was rubbed with salt, ground cumin and pepper. There is no recipe, just add any quantity of those two spices and mineral together, rub it on a plump dead chicken and rotate the chicken over fire.

There’s been multiple posts of late rueing the mutual slump in food blogging mojo in Australia. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been renovating a house and the only thing less entertaining than manual labour is having someone tell you about manual labour in great detail when you’re expecting some sort of food narrative. How home renovation manages to survive as a genre of television is bewildering to me. Then again, it’s not as if I’ve been posting frequently or in depth at in the preceding months.

So what has happened to Australian food blogging? Is it part of a wider trend or just the people whom I read? Is the smoke haze affecting the food? Financial crisis? I wrote about food blogging being dead at the start last year but maybe it is actually coming to fruition.

Great balls of chicken rice

Chicken Ball Rice, Melaka

The apparent simplicity of Hainanese chicken rice is what makes it an addictive comfort food. It looks like simple steamed chicken and with fatty, chicken stock-cooked rice but is so fecund in people’s memories at it is impossible to begin to judge it. There are objectively bad plates of chicken rice replete with ropy strands of fowl; dry, stock-free rice and the umami-punch of MSG. What makes the perfect plate is harder to define. Certainly, moistness and tastiness of the bird plays a part, but can it be too moist? Some come served with a bonus small bowl of thin stock. Is this essential and should it be judged separately?

Each region puts its own twist on the recipe. The above plate is ’s version, served with golf-ball shaped spheres of rice. Some places serve the chicken over rice, others present the components on separate plates. It is important to eat both some rice and some chicken in each mouthful, but when do you eat the thin bowl of stock that comes alongside the plate? I tend to eat it Cambodian-style, dipping a spoonful of rice into it, which in Malaysia, probably makes me look cretinous.

See also: Robyn and Dave at EatingAsia seek out the origins of chicken ball rice.

For chicken rice with balls: Hoe Kee, Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Walk), Melaka (Malacca), Malaysia.