hainanese chicken rice

Hainanese poached chicken rice

This is my home version on a classic traditional poached chicken street food that is popular in Malaysia and Singapore. It is easy to reproduce this recipe in your kitchen; however, it does require some effort, time and techniques. Here is how I do it in my kitchen.

In my last post and video on YouTube, I have said that I will show you how I poach a whole chicken at home. I love to cook a whole chicken at least once a week. Why? Because it is cheap to buy a whole chicken rather than individual cut meat, and the by-products of poaching the whole chicken can be used to make few other dishes, and the broth can be kept and freeze for later use as homemade chicken stock.

Once you have mastered this recipe, I am confident to say that you will want to make it again and again. Perhaps not a full-blown version of making everything at the same time. If I am lazy, I will only poach the chicken and not bother to make the sauces and rice. I will skip the extra step of rubbing the chicken skin with coarse sea salt, although this is a crucial step to get that silky smooth skin. It is still good and tasty and I can still keep and use the broth on other dishes, even to poach some homemade dumplings.

To make this recipe, there are 3 techniques involved. The first technique is to prepare and poach the chicken. The second technique is to make the 2 types of sauce to go with chicken and rice. Finally, the third step is to make the aromatic chicken rice.

hainanese poached chicken rice

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Hainanese poached chicken rice

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
  • Print

Credit: penanginsights.com


  • 1 whole chicken about 1.5 kg
  • 3 spring onion (or scallion)
  • 3 long red chilli
  • 1-2 large knobs of ginger
  • 1-2 garlic bulbs
  • 1-2 cups rice
  • white peppercorn
  • light soy
  • sesame oil
  • coarse sea salt
  • rock sugar
  • normal fine cooking salt
  • sugar (I use cane sugar since I don’t use white sugar)


  1. In a pot, add enough water (roughly 2.5 litres – 3 litres) to cook chicken. This can vary depending on the type and size of pot you are using. In the same pot, add 1 teaspoon salt, a bit of rock sugar, 3 lower halves of spring onions/scallions, 5 thick slices of ginger bruised and 1 teaspoon white peppercorn. Bring the pot to a boil on high heat
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the chicken. First remove excess chicken fat by peeling it off using both hands (at the cavity) and set aside. Wash hands. Next use some coarse sea salt to rub and massage the chicken. This step is crucial to get a tight, silky smooth skin. Rinse off the salt under cold running tap. By now, the water should be boiling
  3. Immerse the chicken into the boiling water and blanch 1-2 minutes. Remove and quickly put it under cold running tap to cool down the skin and inside of chicken
  4. Next place the chicken back into the pot and turn the heat down to low. Cook the chicken for 45 minutes
  5. While waiting for the chicken to cook, we can now prepare the 2 types of sauce
  6. First, make the ginger and spring onion sauce. Roughly chop some ginger and the upper halves of the 3 spring onions/scallions and place in a mortar. Add a bit of coarse sea salt. Pound the ingredients until it is coarsely smooth. Heat up some cooking oil on a low-medium heat. Once the oil is hot (not boiling), pour the oil into the mortar and give the ginger spring onion sauce a good stir. Remove and place in a bowl to cool down. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use an electric spice blender
  7. Next, make the garlic ginger chilli sauce. Roughly chop some ginger, garlic and chillies and add to the mortar. Add some coarse sea salt. Pound the ingredients until smooth. Add 1 bowl of chicken broth from the pot. Give it a good stir. Then squeeze and add some lime juice and a bit of sugar to taste and mix through. Place in a serving bowl and set aside
  8. Make the rice. On a saucepan, some cooking oil or butter and the chicken fat that was removed from the chicken cavity earlier. Heat up the sauce pan on low-medium heat to infuse the chicken fat with the butter. Then, add few slices of ginger and some smashed garlic cloves. Give them a quick stir. Next add the rice (pre-washed) and chicken broth from the pot. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. The time varies depending on how much rice you are cooking. You will need to adjust accordingly
  9. By now the chicken should have been nicely poached. Roughly 45 minutes on low heat and an additional 15 minutes to rest in the broth (after turning off the heat). Remove the chicken and let it cool and dry before brushing with a mixture of 2 tablespoons light soy and 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
  10. Cut the chicken and serve the way you like, with the rice and sauce

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