Chicken lickin' Some people might question why chicken rice is being covered in this column, arguing that it is a meal and not a snack.

I would say, as I do with many other dishes, that it depends - because I've eaten it as both. I've had chicken rice for lunch, but I've also eaten it as a snack in Thailand, when a friend and I walked past a street food vendor, realised we were peckish and sat down for a quick bite; and, a couple of months ago, in Singapore, where, before starting what promised to be a long night of eating, drinking, working and partying (all at the same time), three of us demolished half a chicken (and the rice and soup) in less than 20 minutes.

Chicken rice (often called Hainan chicken rice) is served in many Asian countries, including Malaysia and Vietnam. What they all have in common is poached chicken, rice that's cooked with some of the chicken fat and - usually - soup made from the broth used to poach the chicken. The most common version in Hong Kong comes with three dipping sauces: kecap manis (dark, sweetened soy sauce), a light chilli sauce, and one made with ginger and garlic puréed with oil and salt. Thai chicken rice, however, is served with just one sauce, made with chillies, garlic and fermented yellow beans.

Many places serve cucumber with chicken rice, because the vegetable's crisp texture and cool flavour refresh the palate between bites of chicken with the strongly flavoured sauces.