Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hainanese Chicken Rice

When we moved the Singapore, every single person who knew anything about Singapore had one thing to tell us : that we must have Hainanese Chicken Rice.

And so, the day we landed in Singapore, we made our way to a food court to have what is the national dish of Singapore.

However, when I first lay my eyes on the plate of chicken and rice, all I felt was disappointment. "Why is there so much fuss about Hainanese Chicken Rice? It is just boiled chicken," I whispered to my husband.

It was, however, love at first bite. The chicken was extremely fragrant and succulent, the rice very flavourful. It looked no fancier than boiled chicken, but the taste was anything but.

I have so many people to thank for this recipe - a couple of Singaporean friends, my chicken vendor in the Tekka wet market and Elaine's blog.

Here's how you make it:


for the chicken

Chicken: 1 kg (buy the best and freshest chicken you can, I normally buy a free range chicken)

Chicken bones, to make the stock: optional

Garlic: 8-10 cloves,
Ginger:1.5" piece, peeled

Cloves: 4
Star anise: 2

Screwpine leaves (pandan leaves): 4 nos, washed and tied into a knot
(if you can't find these, replace with 4 stalks of spring onions - discard the onions)

Salt: 3 - 4 tsps

Sesame oil: 2 tbsps
Light soy sauce: 1 tbsp


In a large pot, pour about 2 litres of water. Add to it the chicken bones (if using), 2 tsps salt, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2" piece of ginger, 2 cloves, 1 star anise and 2 pandan leaves. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Retain the spices and the herbs, discard the bones.

While you make the stock, wash the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining salt over the chicken, leave for about 5 minutes and rub thoroughly. Salt is a meat tenderiser and this step goes a long way in making the chicken succulent. Wash the chicken again and stuff the cavity with the remaining cloves, star anise, ginger, garlic and pandan leaves.

Slowly slide the chicken breast side down into the boiling stock; the stock should completely cover the chicken (if not, boil some water on the side and pour it into the pot).

Allow the water to come to a boil again, cover the pot and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and leave the chicken undisturbed for 1.5 hours. This is very important - don't open the cover of the pot.

I know how radically opposite this method of cooking chicken is to more popular method of cooking chicken, but trust me, the chicken will be fully cooked and absolutely succulent.

Uncover the pot after 1.5 hours and if desired, poke a skewer into the thigh; the juices should run clear.

Tip the stock into another pot  - don't discard the stock for the rice is cooked in it and that is what gives the rice its flavour. Pour cold water over the chicken to stop it from cooking any further.

Mix together the sesame oil and the soy sauce and rub over the chicken.

For the rice:

Rice: 1 cup, washed
Chicken stock: 2 1/4 cups
Garlic: 1 clove
Ginger: 1" piece
Sesame oil: 1 tbsp
Light soy sauce: 1 tbsp
Screwpine leaves: 1, tied into a knot


Heat oil, and fry the garlic till it turns light brown. Add the ginger and the rice and saute for a minute. Add the stock, the screwpine leaf and the soy sauce. Once the rice has absorbed all the stock, cover the pot and lower the heat to the lowest, steam for a minute and take the pot off the burner.

For the sauce:

Pound together 4 cloves of garlic, 10 fresh red chillies, 1" piece of ginger. Add to it 2 tbsps of oyster sauce, 1 tbsp of sweet soy sauce, 1 tbsp of light soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp of chopped shallots and 1 tsp of chopped coriande leaves.

To serve:

Slice the chicken and serve with a scoop of rice, sliced cucumbers, the stock and the sauce.


  1. perfect recipe. Where to get pandan leaves in joburg?

  2. perfect recipe. Where to get pandan leaves in joburg?

  3. Sounds very good aqua...
    It must be really tasting delicious!

  4. You in S'pore now ? Your description of the chicken is making me drool

  5. Anon, I don't know either! Here I use spring onions instead.

    Spandana, it is very satisfying indeed.

    BongMom, no we are in Joburg, it is just that I have finally finished all these posts that were lying in my drafts and so you see the singapore ref. so often!

  6. I have to still Taste this,have heard about this a lots,,,:)

  7. snaps are too tempting... i waslooking through your pull apart post.. i had made it with spicy chcken with the same source.. was damn good right!!
    i never got a chance to take snap as i have it soon after taking frm oven :)

  8. You have an award waiting for you at my blog. Do visit and accept!

  9. looks just awesum..n nice cliks.wonderful space vth tasty dishes n nice recipes...


It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!

Powered by Blogger.

Search This Blog

Follow me!

Served With Love is on Facebook

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.