Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南鸡饭)


“Secret recipe from dad & mum!”

Hainanese chicken rice seems to be one of the most popular local food in Singapore. This is a Singaporean cuisine, of course. It is so well known that almost every visitor and tourist to Singapore would eat it at least once.

To me, I like to cook chicken rice meal at home, especially if I have guests to feed. This is one of the economical yet presentable cookings to impress them.

My cooking, considerably an heirloom recipe, was passed down from my parents. It’s one of their best dishes which they used to cook for business in the older days. And now, their recipe was adapted with mainly homecooked flavour, lessen the addition of MSG! Yes, for business purpose, many sellers add MSG to maximize the flavour of the dish, especially the rice. Without MSG, the rice would not be as tasty as it has to be. However, I have chicken granule and other condiments to back me up, making it tasty enough.

Ingredients (A) for Boiled Chicken:
1 whole chicken (I used Sakura chicken)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
2 thick slices of ginger, peeled and bruised

1 large pot of water (for boiling whole chicken)

Ingredients (A1) for Chicken Sauce:
60ml of light soy sauce
2 – 3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of fish sauce
Drops of sesame oil
Pinch of grounded white pepper

Ingredients (B) for Chicken Rice:
3 cups rice grain, rinsed
3 cups of ^chicken stock (retained from boiling chicken)

Ingredients (B1):
2 thick slices of ginger, finely minced (or used whole thick slices of ginger with slight bruising)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
4 Pandan (Screwpine) leaves, tied into a knot
2 stalks of lemon grass, cut away the end and used only the head part, lightly crushed
1 knob of margarine
50g of chicken fat (or oil out of the chicken fat)
1 teaspoon of chicken granule
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Pinch of turmeric powder (for the rice color)

Ingredients (C) for Chinese Cabbage Chicken Soup:
1 large pot of ^chicken stock (retained from boiling chicken)
1/2 Chinese cabbage, thickly sliced
1 carrot, thickly sliced 
Pinch of salt

Ingredients (D) for Chili Sauce:
1 whole garlic, peeled
6 red chili
2 chili padi
4 limes, halved and deseed
2 thumb-sized of young ginger
1 thumb-sized of pineapple flesh
30 – 50ml of water
2 tablespoons of sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper

Cucumber, sliced

Coriander, chopped


Chicken meat and chicken stock:
1) Clean chicken and empty internal cavities. set chicken aside.

2) Boil a large pot of water over high heat. Add ginger, garlic and onion into boiling water. Now, steep whole chicken in the boiling water. Let it boil again, and reduce heat to medium fire to simmer chicken for 20 minutes. When cooked, transfer whole chicken to a large bowl of cold water. Bath chicken in cold water for few minutes. Drain and chop the chicken into pieces, plate chicken meat nicely on a bed of cucumber, and set aside for later. Retain the chicken head and feet, return to the pot of chicken stock and continue simmering in low fire, until it’s ready to use for chicken rice, and cabbage soup cooking.

Chicken rice:
3) Rinse rice in the rice pot, twice. Add ingredients (B1) in the rice pot, and fill up with ^chicken stock (made and retained from Step 2) according to the amount which required for usual rice cooking. Cook rice in rice cooker the usual way. 

Chinese cabbage chicken soup:
4) Use the remaining ^chicken stock (from Step 2). Add in Chinese cabbage and carrots, simmer for 20 mins, or until cabbage is soften. Stir in salt and pepper.

Chili sauce:
5) Blend all ingredients (D), except for sugar and salt. After blending till really fine, transfer chili mixture into a bowl. Stir in sugar and salt.

Chicken sauce:
6) Mix ingredients (A1) in a bowl, and stir to dissolve well. Best to simmer the sauce mixture on low heat until all dissolved well, for about 5-8 minutes. Set aside. 

7) For extended aromas on the chicken sauce: Heat wok with oil over medium fire. Add in garlic, stir fry till fragrant. Heat off and immediately pour in the soy sauce mixture. Beware of the sizzling effect. This step is optional. 

8) To serve the meal: Transfer sauce mixture into a bowl. Drizzle sauce on the nicely plated chicken meat before serve. Garnish and serve with aromatic chicken rice, pipping hot cabbage soup and complementary chili dipping sauce. 

A serving of my chicken rice set counts about 500kcal. Yes, it must be a whoa on the load of calories. So, don’t waste your calorie, sacrifice for good homecooked food only! :)

Tips: Each amount of ingredient listed is adjustable to suit one’s preference. Always do the stage-tasting, if you are not sure how much to add tastes the best for you.
* May use free range (Kampung) chicken which yields firmer and leaner meat. I used Sakura chicken as it is larger and preservative free. Bought it at NTUC Fairprice.
* Buy extra chicken fat to be added into rice cooking. However, you may pan-fry the fat until
oil releases from it. Use the aromatic chicken oil to cook the rice instead of adding the whole fat.
* Deseed the limes before blending. Otherwise, your chili sauce is going to taste bitter.
* If you are not good at taking spiciness, remove some or all the seeds of the chilies.

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