Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of Chinese origin mostly associated with Singaporean cuisine, and lesser so for Malaysian cuisine or Thai Cuisine, although it is also commonly sold in neighbouring Thailand, and found in Hainan, China itself. So-called due to its roots in Hainan cuisine and its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area (present-day Singapore), the version found in Singapore region combines elements of Hainanese and Cantonese cuisines along with culinary preferences in the Southeast Asian region.
Recipe for Hainanese Chicken Rice
Ingredients for Hainanese Chicken Rice:
- 1 whole chicken (3.5 lbs, 1.8kg), preferably organic
- Kosher salt
- 4″ section of fresh ginger, in 1/4″ slices
- 2 stalks green onions, cut into 1″sections (both the green and white parts)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the rice:
- 2 tablespoon chicken fat or 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1″ section of ginger, finely minced
- 2 cups long-grain uncooked rice, washed and soaked in cool water for 10 min or longer
- 2 cups reserved chicken poaching broth
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the chilli sauce:
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoon reserved chicken poaching broth
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 4 tablespoon chili sauce
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1″ ginger
- Pinch of salt, to taste
For the serving:
- 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
- Few sprigs cilantro
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced or cut into bite-sized chunks
- Clean the chicken with a small handful of kosher salt, rub the chicken all over, getting rid of any loose skin and dirt. Wash and pat very dry inside and outside. Season generously with salt inside and outside. Stuff the chicken with the ginger slices and the green onion. Place the chicken in a large stockpot and fill with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low to keep a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes more (less if you’re using a smaller chicken). Check for doneness by sticking a chopstick into the flesh under the leg and see if the juices run clear or insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone. It should read 170F.
- When the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Immediately transfer the chicken into a bath of ice water to cool. Don’t forget to reserve the poaching broth for your rice, your sauce, and the accompanying soup. The quick cooling will stop the cooking process, keeping the meat soft and tender, and giving the skin a lovely firm texture.
- To cook the rice: Drain the rice. In a wok or sauce pan (use a medium sauce pan if you plan on cooking the rice on the stove top), heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ginger and the garlic and fry until your kitchen smells like heaven. Be careful not to burn the aromatics! Add in your drained rice and stir to coat, cook for 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, mix well.
- To make the rice on the stove: In the same sauce pan, add 2 cups of your reserved poaching broth, add salt and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit (with lid still on) for 5-10 minutes more.
- To cook rice in a rice cooker: Pour aromatics and rice (after frying) into your rice cooker, add 2 1/2 cups of your reserved poaching broth and salt. Follow the instructions for your model (usually this will just mean “turn it on!”)
- While your rice is cooking, remove the chicken from the ice bath and rub the outside of the chicken with the sesame oil. Carve the chicken for serving.
- To make the chili sauce: Blend your chili sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth and bright red.
- To make the soup: You should have six or seven cups of the reserved poaching broth left over to serve as soup. Just before serving, heat up the soup, taste and season with salt as necessary.
- Serve the chicken rice with chili sauce, dark soy sauce, cucumber slices, and a bowl of hot broth garnished with cilantro or scallions.