Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainese chicken rice recipe

The Spruce / Teena Agnel

  • Total: 100 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 80 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1342 Calories
66g Fat
74g Carbs
109g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1342
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 66g 85%
Saturated Fat 17g 84%
Cholesterol 314mg 105%
Sodium 936mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 74g 27%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 109g
Calcium 164mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Considered one of Singapore's national dishes, Hainanese chicken rice traces its roots to the Chinese immigrants who came from the Hainan province and settled in different parts of what is now Southeast Asia. Although often associated with Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is also found in the cuisines of Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

By tradition, Hainanese chicken rice consists of four elements: the chicken, the rice cooked in chicken broth, the broth served as a soup, and the dipping sauce or sauces. Each element is crucial to a delicious and true representation of this dish.

Ingredients

  • For the Chicken:
  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken (preferably free-range)
  • Rock salt (for cleaning)
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 4 quarts chicken broth 
  • 2 shallots (peeled and halved)
  • 4 garlic cloves (smashed)
  • 1-inch ginger root (scrubbed)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white portion only, lightly pounded)
  • 6 peppercorns
  • Salt (to taste)
  • For the Rice:
  • 3 cups chicken broth (reserved)
  • 2 cups​ ​long-grain rice
  • For the Dipping Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this chicken dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Hainanese Chicken

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Hainese chicken
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. Rub the chicken all over with rock salt to remove impurities. Do this two to three times until you see that the skin is clean.

    Rub chicken all over
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. Place the chicken in a pot deep enough to allow the chicken to be submerged in the cooking liquid. Pour in the rice wine and enough chicken broth so that there is at least an inch of liquid above the chicken.

    Place chicken in pot
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  4. Bring to a boil, skimming off any scum that rises; then lower the heat so that the liquid is barely simmering.

    Bring to boil
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, peppercorns, and salt, if the broth is unsalted. Cover the pot and let the chicken poach—about 45 minutes.

    Add shallots, garlic, ginger
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  6. When the poaching time is finished, turn off the heat but leave the chicken in the pot, still covered, for another 10 minutes.

    Turn off heat
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  7. Using kitchen tongs, lift the chicken out of the broth. The best way to not break the skin is to insert one arm of the tongs into the cavity of the chicken.

    Lift chicken out of broth
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  8. Place the chicken in a shallow bowl, cover very loosely with aluminum foil and leave to cool for at least an hour. (Some cooks plunge the chicken in an ice bath to expedite the cooling process.)

    Place chicken in
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  9. Meanwhile, strain the broth and measure 3 cups broth to cook the rice in. Let the broth cool.

    Strain broth
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Make the Rice

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for rice
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. In a medium to large pot, add the cold broth to the rice and bring the mixture to a boil.

    Add cold broth
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. Then cover tightly, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

    Cover tightly
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  4. Keep the cover on the pan, remove the pan from the heat, and let the rice stand for another 15 minutes to steam.

    Keep cover on pan
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork.

    Fluff rice
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel 

Make the Dipping Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for dipping sauce
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. Mix together the grated ginger, chopped scallions, peanut oil, and enough salt to taste.

    Mix together grated ginger
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Cut the Chicken and Serve 

  1. Transfer the chicken to a chopping board. It will have to be chopped through the bones so you'll need a heavy knife for the job. Find the joint that connects the thigh (not the leg) from the back and carefully cut through the joint, leaving the leg attached to the thigh.

    Chicken on cutting board
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. Do the same for the other leg and thigh.

    Break up
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. Find the joints that connect the "little drumsticks" (drummettes) from the breast and cut through the joints to separate both wings from the breast. Set aside the thighs and wings.

    Chicken
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  4. Cut through the breast meat.

    Chicken breast
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. Then chop all the way through to cut the chicken into halves.

    Cut chicken into halves
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  6. Lay the first half flat on the chopping board. Slice the meat at 1-inch intervals. Chop through the bones right where you have sliced the meat.

    Lay first half on chopping board
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  7. Do the same for the thighs and wings.

    Thighs and wings
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  8. This is now the part when you can tell if you cooked your Hainanese chicken correctly. When you cut through the thigh bone, check the color—the center should be pink. If it is gray, the chicken is overcooked.

    Chicken
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  9. Pile the chicken slices on a platter. Serve with the chicken rice, remaining broth, and dipping sauces.

    Chicken slices on plate
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  10. Enjoy!

Tips

  • Poaching means the liquid should be below simmering point. Poaching time should be based on the weight of the chicken—30 minutes per 2 pounds. Hence, a bird weighing 3 1/2 pounds requires a poaching time of 45 minutes.
  • Hainanese chicken is usually served with three sauces: chili sauce (like Sriracha), hoisin sauce, and a homemade ginger scallion sauce.
  • The cooking time indicated says an 1:20, but Hainanese chicken rice can't be served right after cooking. The chicken has to be cooled completely before it is chopped; otherwise, the juices will flow out leaving the chicken meat, especially the breast, dry. Think of roast beef which needs plenty of resting time before it is sliced. The same principle applies to Hainanese chicken. Time is essential to allow to juices to settle so that they remain where they should—in the meat—rather than on your plate.