Chicken Long Rice: The Hawaiian Comfort Food That's Bursting With Flavor

When the cold days roll in, one comfort food that comes to mind when you need to start feeling better is a comforting bowl of classic chicken noodle soup. In Hawaii, this isn't quite the meal you'd reach for in the same circumstances. Instead, you'd seek out the state's chicken noodle soup equivalent; chicken long rice. This dish is less of a soup and more of a light, noodle-centric delight. It's such a state-wide culinary staple that chicken long rice is a big part of luaus, holiday celebrations, and party feasts.

If this is a Hawaiian food you've never tried before, the dish's signature vermicelli noodles may look a bit strange at first glance. The noodles also go by many names like glass noodles, bean threads, or cellophane noodles. They are thin and chewy. Their main components, water and starch, make them transparent when boiled. Along with shredded chicken and scallions, these noodles are perfect for soaking up the dish's zesty, ginger-infused broth.

China is the origin place of this flavorful dish which commonly spotlights cellophane noodles made from mung bean starch although rice noodles are also common. Those rice noodles give the dish its name. That name can be rather confusing because there are no rice grains in a cozy bowl of chicken long rice although some people do enjoy it over white rice at times.

The makings of Hawaiian chicken long rice

It's easy to find the right type of Asian noodles for this Hawaiian favorite at local Asian markets but one may discover them at common grocery chains as well. The easiest and quickest way to make chicken long rice is to throw everything in a trusty pressure cooker for around 15 minutes. Otherwise, it's common to boil whole or shredded chicken thighs in a savory concoction of chicken stock, soy sauce, sliced ginger, and garlic before adding noodles. While these are the main ingredients that traditionally compose chicken long rice, home chefs will often get creative with their chosen veggies and spices to intensify its overall flavor.

For an extra dose of umami, shiitake mushrooms are a popular ingredient to use. Some may choose to sauté a sweet onion, bok choy, cabbage, or carrots to add a pop of color to the dish, too. Thai chilis or red pepper flakes can kick the heat up a notch if that's what your taste buds are craving and a touch of lemongrass will impart a tangy citrus edge into the broth. You could even sprinkle some shredded coconut into this tasty fusion of flavors to give your chicken long rice a nuanced tropical vibe. The vermicelli noodles can soak up all that flavor quickly. Once the noodles are ready, you'll have a meal fit for any occasion, whether you're at a lively Hawaiian luau or enjoying a quiet night at home.