Chicken rice is undisputedly the national dish of Singapore given its popularity with locals and tourists alike. It is a common and inexpensive dish found in many hawker centres and food courts, although it’s occasionally served in restaurants boasting local cuisines as well.
And yessss, I look forward to a yummy plate of chicken rice at least once a week. Chicken rice?! How does it fit in my diet? Well, chicken is a great source of protein, although this dish in its typical form contains a lot of fat. According to the nutrient profile I grabbed off the Health Promotion Board, a plate of chicken rice with roasted chicken contains 607 Cal, 25g of Protein, 75g Carbs, and 23g of Fat. That’s a lot of carbs and fats in one serving. Oops, not so clean after all!
This dish typically consist of a portion chicken (roasted or poached) liberally doused with sesame oil, and sitting atop savory and fragrant ‘oily’ rice. It is usually served with tangy chilli sauce, ginger sauce, and a dark soy sauce that is a tad sweet. Customers can also order extra items such as hard-boiled eggs and chicken gizzards.
So how on earth do I fit it in my diet? I make some simple modifications to the meal.
First, I would choose breast meat over other cuts of meat. Although undifferentiated in the HPB nutrient profile, ordering different parts of the chicken actually yield different calorie content. A chicken contains both dark and white meats. Dark meats are generally found in the leg and back regions, while the white meat is found in the chest area. Dark meats contain 2.64 times more saturated fat than white meat. So choosing cuts like the breast meat would be less calorie-laden than thigh meat.
Second, I remove the skin off the chicken before eating in order to lessen the calorie and fat content of the meal. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the caloric difference between a skinless chicken and a chicken with skin on is about 30-50 cal! That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up rather quickly so I try to not to.
Third, I would ask for a smaller serving of rice. I would typically eat about a fist-size of rice per carb-meal, which roughly translates to about 22-27g of carbs, depending on the type of rice I eat. As you can see from the HPB nutrient profile, Chicken Rice hawkers would serve more than twice the amount of carbs I would like to have per meal. If I want to further reduce the overall fat content of my meal, I would replace the fragrant ‘oily’ rice with white rice. It is a great option when I need a quick and cheap meal, yet reduce the fat.
Using these simple modifications, I can usually order twice the amount of chicken, getting in more protein while staying within my calorie budget. I would normally order two portions of chicken breast meat with lesser white rice (or fragrant rice, depending on the hawker and my mood). I estimate this meal to come to about 450 Cal, 50g Protein, 26g Carb, 16g Fat.
Too Long; Didn’t Read?
From 607 Cal, I turned it into a 450 Cal meal with more protein by:
(1) Choosing breast meat
(2) Eating the meat without the skin (or at least sparingly if I cannot resist)
(3) Asking for less rice (or even better, switching it up to white rice)
In case you were wondering, the photo of the chicken rice was taken at the Sin Kee Chicken Rice Stall located at Mei Ling Street Market & Food Centre (Address: Blk 159, Mei Ling Street, S140159). This corner stall is pretty big, occupying the space of two stalls, and they have a constant queue during lunch hour. Other than chicken rice, I noticed that they serve several ‘xiao cai’ (side dishes) as well. Most customers ordered ‘San Yu’ (raw fish with a dash of lime) and some stir-fried vegetables. I only eaten the chicken rice there so far because I love the substantial amount of meat I can get in for a $8.50 meal (refer to the first photo above!).
Also, get your boost of vitamin c from the lime juice sold at the drinks store just beside chicken rice store. I was pretty amazed by how generous they are with the limes!