Sunday, March 22, 2015

First meal on my Feb 2015 Hainan trip: Wenchang chicken rice, the predecessor of Hainanese chicken rice, Singapore's national comfort dish. The skin is rather thick and has a sinful layer of oil underneath. The chicken is free range, hence much tougher than the Singapore version. Early Hainanese immigrants to Singapore had to compete with the Cantonese white braise chicken hawkers, and have learnt to turn the skin tender by soaking the chicken overnight in ice water.
The Wenchang chicken rice is eaten with a sauce made from chicken oil, ginger, onions and light soy; whereas the Singapore version is eaten with chili and ginger, the result of Southeast Asian influence on this nation.

Our ancestral home in Taijia Village, Wenchang County, Hainan. Records show that the clan's founder moved to Hainan in the 13th Century during the chaos of the Mongol invasion of China; and an ancestor moved to Taijia Village in the 17th century. This (or versions of it) has been the family house for over 300 years.

Songdeng (送灯) or "Deliver the lantern", a yuanxiao custom in Wenchangcounty, Hainan Province, China. Teenagers and children carry around lanterns round communities on yuanxiao, together with performers in elaborate opera dress to deliver new year wishes in song and dance. Songdeng has been declared by the Hainan government to be an intangible cultural heritage of the province.