Hainanese Chicken Rice

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Chicken rice is a favourite in asia. You find them in almost every coffee shop. It’s great for lunch, dinner or supper….or even breakfast. And it’s yummy. You would often find variations in white cooked chicken, baked/grilled chicken, duck and char siu hanging on those metal hooks, waiting to get all chopped up. When your turn comes, you peer over that chopping board and gesture to the cook which part of the chicken you would like to have. He nods, grabs the chicken from the hook and starts chopping that bird into fine bite pieces. After a while, you’ll find a tasty full course meal that is served with a bowl of chicken soup, chilly and dark soy sauce in front of you….an absolute asian delight!

There are quite a few ways to prepare this dish. Choose from traditional, to a very simple way to create this very dish. A few must haves like the cilantro leaves, ginger, sesame oil, and cucumber are compulsory to make the meal round. The special ginger chilly sauce is actually also a must. If you’re missing on those, it’s better to pull off the idea trying to make them at all.

My grandma told me once that the real way to prepare this dish was to take the chicken, holding the chicken at it’s neck over a boiling pot of hot water, take a soup spoon and scope that hot water gently over the chicken until it gets cooked. In that way, the chicken meat would stay tender and soft. I wasn’t even able to hold the bird straight for a 5 minute! Nevertheless, I found an easier method of getting the bird done and eaters who have all confirmed its success.

Update: 2016 – revised


4 chicken drumsticks with thighs or 1 whole Chicken, cleaned
5 cm Ginger, sliced
1 Stalk scallion, sliced in 10cm piece or 1 onion
1 tsp. Vegetable stock
Salt to taste

For the rub:
Sesame oil
Soy sauce

3 cups of rice
4-5 cups of water (depending on rice quality)
1 cup chicken oil/broth (from the soup)
3 cm Ginger, chopped finely
dash Sesame oil
3 cloves Garlic, chopped finely
1 Shallot, chopped finely
1 tsp salt
1 Pandan leave, knotted


1 stalk scallion
1 stalk cilantro sprigs
1/2 cucumber, cut in wedges

Chilli sauce:

5 Red chillies
1 Lemon juice
1 tbsp Soy sauce
3cm Ginger, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp sugar


Clean the chicken, remove excess fat from the skin. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Put in your whole chicken or drumsticks, ginger, scallion and turn down the heat. Cover your pot and let it simmer very gently for about 45 minutes. Take care not to over cook your chicken as the longer you cook, the more the meat will just fall apart or becomes too dry.
Wash the rice. Drain.
Prepare now the ingredients for the rice. Chop or blend them well. Fry the chicken fat till fragrant with a tsp oil in a pan. Add in ginger and garlic and brown. Once done, transfer this mixture into the rice cooker. Add water (or broth and fatty layer from the soup) and the knotted pandan leaves. Mix in the fried ingredients to the rice and cook, stirring once while it is still wet.
Prepare the ginger chilly sauce. Blend all ingredients together (without the sugar). Then add sugar to taste.
After 45 minutes of simmering, take the chicken out of the soup and let it cool down. Add salt to taste, or optionally a tsp. of vegetable stock. Once the chicken is cool enough to be touched, rub the chicken with the sesame oil and soy. Cut the chicken into bite pieces you would find comfortable to eat. I usually leave the thighs whole. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro leaves. Spoon out the soup into a bowl, garnish with some finely chopped scallions, cucumber wedges and serve this together with chicken rice, and chilly sauce.