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Hainanese Chicken Rice

Recipe by Connie Veneracion
A no-waste dish. A whole chicken is cooked in water, and the resulting chicken broth is used to cook rice. Hainanese chicken is traditionally served with three dipping sauces to heighten the flavors of the dish.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Steeping / cooling time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian Fusion, Singaporean
Servings 4 people
Hainanese chicken with traditional dipping sauces



Ginger scallion dipping sauce

Sweet soy sauce

Chili sauce

  • 2 heaping tablespoons chili garlic oil (available in Asian groceries; I used Lee Kum Kee)
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (you may need more)
  • chicken broth
  • refined salt

Chicken rice

  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 shallot peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 cups rice unrinsed
  • 4 cups chicken cooking broth


Cook the chicken

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Dry the chicken with paper towels, place in a bowl and add about three heaping tablespoons of salt.
  • Rub the salt on the chicken, including the cavity, to remove impurities.
  • Rinse the chicken to remove excess salt.
    Rubbing chicken with salt before plunging in boiling water to remove impurities
  • Plunge the chicken, breast side up, into the boiling water.
  • When the water comes to a rolling boil once more, pour off the water leaving the chicken in the pot.
  • Refill the pot with enough water so that about half an inch of the breast is above the surface of the water (it really helps prevent overcooking the breast meat).
  • Add the scallions and ginger, and a tablespoon of rock salt.
  • Bring to a simmer and skim off any scum that rises (if you salted the chicken well, there will be very little scum).
    Poaching chicken with ginger and scallions
  • Cover the pot and let the chicken continue simmering for 20 minutes (note that it's a 1.4 kilogram chicken so the cooking time will be longer or shorter depending on the weight of your bird).
  • Turn off the heat and leave the chicken to cook in the residual heat for 15 minutes.
  • Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.
  • Scoop out the chicken and plunge into the iced water.
  • Leave to cool while you prepare the rice and dipping sauces.
    Plunging poached chicken in ice bath

Make the ginger scallion sauce

  • In a bowl, mix together the ginger, garlic, scallions and peanut oil.
  • Stir in salt, a quarter teaspoon at a time, until you get the level of saltiness that you prefer.
    Ginger scallion sauce for Hainanese chicken
  • Leave to steep to allow the flavors to blend and mellow.

Make the sweet soy sauce

  • In a microwavable bowl, melt the sugar in one tablespoon of water.
    Sweet soy sauce
  • Stir in the soy sauce.

Make the chili garlic sauce

  • In a bowl, stir together the chili garlic oil with a tablespoon of lime or lemon juice.
  • Pour in two to three tablespoons of the chicken cooking broth to thin out the mixture.
    Chili sauce for Hainanese chicken
  • Taste and add more salt and lime or lemon juice, or both, to get the balance that you prefer.

Cook the rice

  • Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
  • Saute the garlic and shallot for a minute then stir in the rice.
    Cooking rice in Hainanese chicken broth
  • Pour in the chicken broth, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Complete the Hainanese chicken rice

  • Take the chicken out of the water bath and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Optionally, rub all over with sesame seed oil before cutting.
  • To cut, start with the appendages. Cut off the legs, thighs, wings and drumettes by cutting through the joints.
  • Arrange the cut pieces on a platter.
  • Cut to separate the back from the breast.
  • Cut the back part through the bone into three to four portions and place on the platter.
  • Cut the breast into halves, cut each piece through the bone into half-inches slices and arrange on top of the other chicken pieces.
  • Serve your Hainanese chicken with the rice and dipping sauces.
Keyword Chicken, Rice