Hainanese Chicken Rice

Servings : Serves 6

I normally absolutely love rice and chicken, and Hainanese Chicken Rice gives a spectacularly flavourful twist to a very common meal combination. The chicken is gently poached until tender and then chopped up and served with some aromatic rice and some delicious sauces.

This particular dish was adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from the Hainan province in southern China and is considered one of the national dishes in Singapore. It is quite popular in many other Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. I usually enjoy this meal best when recuperating from a cold or when in dire need of some truly comforting comfort food. YUM!

Ingredients for the Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken, with skin (approximately 1-1.5kg)
  • water or chicken stock for boiling the chicken
  • 1 thumb sized piece ginger, crushed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 spring onion/scallion, chopped roughly
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder

Ingredients for the Rice

  • 3 cups long grain rice (like basmati, jasmin, etc)
  • 3 tbsp chicken fat (trim this from the excess fat/skin of the chicken before boiling)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or crushed to a paste
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated or crushed to a paste
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock (reserved from after boiling the chicken)
  • 1 tbsp spring onion, chopped (white parts only)
  • 1-2 tsp salt, or to taste

Ingredients for Ginger Scallion Oil

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp finely minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Chilli Garlic Sauce

  • 12 fresh red chillies
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • juice of half a lime
  • 4 tbsp chicken stock (reserved from after boiling the chicken)

Ingredients for Sweet Soy Sauce

  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock (reserved from after boiling the chicken)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil


First, prepare the chicken. Clean the chicken and trim off any excess fat or skin. Do not discard as these bits will be used to flavour the rice.

Place the chicken in a large pot and fill with water (or chicken stock) to immerse the chicken fully. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low and allow to simmer very very gently for 25-30 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pan and let it sit for an additional 30-40 minutes so as to allow the residual heat to ensure the chicken is fully done without over-cooking the breast part.

Then, lift and plunge the chicken into a bath of ice cold water for just 2 minutes and quickly remove/drain and place it on to a cutting board. This effectively stops the cooking process, keeping the meat tender whilst helping the skin to tighten and firm up. Reserve the poaching stock/liquid for cooking the rice, making the sauces, and to serve alongside the meal. accompanying soup. The quick cooling will stop the cooking process, keeping the meat soft and tender, and giving the skin a lovely firm texture.

To prepare the rice, wash and rinse out the rice 3 to 4 times to remove excess starch and other impurities. Then soak the rice for 20 minutes.

Heat a pan on very low and add the reserved chicken fat and skin from the chicken. Once about 3 tablespoons have been released, discard any of the remaining skin and then add the spring onion whites and crushed ginger and garlic into the pan. Cook for a few seconds, then add the rice. Stir fry it in the flavourful oil for about a minute, then add the chicken stock. Taste and adjust the salt.

Let the rice to cook until just a bit of liquid is left, about 8 minutes over medium low heat. Turn the heat down to its lowest, cover the pan tightly and allow the rice to steam for an additional 8-10 minutes. Once ready, fluff up the rice before serving.

To make the Ginger Scallion Oil, heat the oil and add the other ingredients into it. Stir until fragrant and then turn off the heat and set aside.

Then make the Chilli Garlic Sauce. Blend all the mentioned ingredients together, stir and set aside.

Lastly, make the Sweet Soy Sauce by simply mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

To serve, cut up the chicken, and serve over a bed of rice with sauces on the side or drizzled on top. Garnish with the spring onion greens and some slices of cooling cucumber. Do not forget to also include a bowl of the lovely chicken stock to have with the meal.


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