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  • Writer's pictureRomyL

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Serves 3-4


My first memory of eating chicken rice is relatively late in the game by chicken rice standards, especially if you grew up in South East Asia (I absolutely blame my parents for this one, but how were they to know?). I was 13 and had secretly met up with a boy I'd been skyping every day after one of my adult gymnastics classes. He was astounded that I hadn't eaten chicken rice before - hello sheltered expat life - and felt it important that I do it right first time round. We had the chilli sauce, the miso soup, the bok choy, the cucumber, the dark sweet soy sauce, and loads of spring onions to boot. He went over to order it which, at the time seemed like a small gesture to me, however, I am a firm believer that an Ang Moh (affectionate term for a caucasian person...) such as myself will always get shafted with the less-desirable parts of the chicken. Now, when I have to order it myself, I say 'thank you boss' in the hopes that they will give me the good bits of meat - it's worked a time or two. I don't blame them either; we all have to take care of our own, it's just what we do.

This recipe was born out of a desire to have chicken rice in a covid era that refuses to let me have it, and to share a little bit of my upbringing with the rest of the world. I wanted to have a recipe that was accessible to everyone, not just the few people who have all the equipment ready to go. I know that I would love a rice cooker, a mortar & pestle, a wok, and all that good-as equipment, but it's not realistic for me right now. If you are in that camp, then this recipe is for you, I promise.

Enjoy a little slice of mostly-authentic Singapore in your home kitchen and leave the clean up to your flatmates or your partner or even your kids (I don't know what age you all are...). Happy feasting!



Chicken Rice

  • 1 whole, uncooked chicken (about 1-1.3kg)

  • Salt (lots of it)

  • 1 handful of fresh ginger, sliced (about 1cm thick)

  • 6 stalks of spring onion

  • 2 cups of Jasmine or Basmati rice

  • 1 tablespoon of neutral oil (I use rice bran oil)

  • 1 tablespoon of minced/grated garlic

  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger

  • 2 cups of poaching liquid (from the chicken)

  • Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce), for serving

  • 1 large cucumber, sliced, for serving

Ginger Spring Onion Sauce

  • 4 stalks of spring onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger

  • 1/4 cup of neutral oil (I use rice bran oil)

Chilli Sauce

  • Juice from half a lime

  • 2 tablespoons of Sambal Oelek

  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar

  • 1 tablespoon of minced/grated garlic

  • 1 tablespoon of peeled, grated ginger

  • 2 tablespoons of chicken poaching liquid


Chicken Rice

  1. Cover your chicken in salt (about 4 tablespoons) and rub it all over the skin. You are essentially exfoliating the skin to remove any unwanted bits on the skin. Rinse the chicken off in cold water and pat it dry. Re-salt your chicken and rub it all over the skin and in the cavity of the chicken.

  2. Remove the fat from the cavity of the chicken. There should be two bits of fat on either side of the base of the cavity that you can just pull off. Then slice the two extra bits of fat (they look like extra bits of skin) that are hanging over the cavity. (See my video on Instagram to see which bits I slice off if you are confused. Chop up the removed fat and reserve it for later.

  3. Place your sliced ginger in the cavity of the chicken (like you are stuffing a roast chicken). Then fold your spring onions so that they fit in the cavity of the chicken (it does not matter if some fall out when cooking).

  4. Place your chicken into a large pot of cold water breast-side up, making sure to leave the top of the breasts exposed - this will prevent the breast from overcooking. Bring the water up to a boil then cover the pot with a lid and reduce to a simmer. Leave for 27-30 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken). When the timer is up, place your chicken in a big bowl of ice water to stop it from cooking further. If the chicken has any skin exposed, rub some sesame oil over it. Make sure to skim off any foam that has risen to the top of the chicken poaching liquid and set it aside.

  5. Meanwhile, it's time to prep your rice. Rinse your rice under cold water then soak it in cold water for 20 minutes. If you are using a rice cooker, you do not need to soak the rice for 20 minutes.

  6. Place 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and your chopped chicken fat into a pan (or a wok) over a medium heat and cook until the fat has completely rendered (about 5-8 minutes). There will be some little crispy golden bits of fat left but you don't need to remove them. Remove the pan from the heat and add in your garlic and ginger, stirring until aromatic (about 1 minute). You don't want to crisp the garlic up, so be careful to not overcook it. Pour in your soaked rice and place the pan back on the heat, stirring the rice for 3 minutes.

  7. Add your rice to a medium-sized pot or your rice cooker. Pour in 2 cups of your poaching liquid and add a large pinch of salt. If using a pot, cover with a lid, bring the rice to a boil then reduce to a very low simmer for 8-12 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Be mindful to use a pot that will not burn the rice - it is perfectly acceptable to do a test run of your pots to find out which one is non-stick enough to not burn your rice. Remove the pot from the heat and use a fork to fluff the rice up. Then cover it with your lid and set aside. If using a rice cooker simply steam until the rice is ready.

  8. Ginger Spring Onion Sauce: Mix together your sliced spring onion and your grated ginger. Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Once hot, pour it over your spring onion/ginger mixture. Mix everything together and set it aside.

  9. Chilli Sauce: Mix together all of the ingredients and set the sauce aside.

  10. Remove your chicken from the ice bath, rub 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over the entire chicken, and then place it on a chopping board. Remove the wings and legs and place them on a serving platter. Carefully cut the breasts off by removing them from the breast bone. Make sure to cut off any stray pieces of chicken so that you leave no piece wasted! Side-note: If you want to learn how to fully, and perfectly debone a cooked chicken, youtube has a myriad of videos to teach you (I might release a video for it too, stay tuned!).

  11. Slice your chicken up and serve it on a plate with your cooked rice, ginger spring onion sauce, chilli sauce, kecap manis, and some sliced cucumbers.

Stay Salty,

Romy xx

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