Cook It : Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice is a dish originally from the Hainan province in southern China. It is considered one of the national dishes of Singapore. Hainanese chicken rice is most commonly associated with Singaporean, Malaysian and Hainanese cuisines, although it is also popular in Thailand (where it is known as Khao Man Gai), Vietnam and Indonesia.

​Now I must confess right now that I am no domestic goddess. Hell no! I don’t belong in the kitchen. My Husband is a way better cook than me and he does all the housework. But for some bizarre reason, during my pregnancy, I had this urge to cook and bake lots — apparently it’s a phenomenon called “nesting”.

Basically, what I am trying to say is that If I can cook Hainanese Chicken Rice, anyone can!!!

There were quite a few steps in the recipe and I had to get down and dirty with some chicken legs (oo-er!) plus there was lots of chopping…

​Hainanese Chicken Rice for 4 personsPreparation time: about one hourCooking: 50 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting (important!)The ingredients

Chicken (+/- 1.5kg)

5 whole cloves garlic, plus 2 chopped cloves

6 unpeeled, thick slices of ginger

1 tbsp of sesame oil

700g jasmine rice1/2 tsp of sea salt

1 tbsp soy sauce+ coriander, sliced cucumber and spring onion, to serve

The chili Sauce

6 red birds-eye chilies

2 tbsp of grated ginger

2 garlic cloves1 tsp caster sugar 1/4 tsp sea salt flakes

1 tsp lemon juiceSpring onion and ginger oil

4 thinly sliced spring onions

2 tbsp grated ginger1/2 tsp sea salt flakes3 tbsp peanut oil

The dressing1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp light soy sauce

Trim any visible fat from the chicken. Roughly chop the fat and put in a small saucepan. Cook over very low heat for about one hour until the liquid fat renders away. Pour off and keep the liquid fat as it pools. (You do not need the crispy pieces of fried fat for this dish, but they are excellent served with cooked noodles.)

Put the whole garlic cloves and five slices of ginger in the cavity of the chicken and place breast-side down in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to just below a simmer. The water should be steaming well, but not bubbling. Keep the heat at this stage for 20 minutes, then cover the pot and turn off the heat. Leave for 30 minutes, then lift out the chicken, keeping the poaching stock. Brush the chicken skin with sesame oil and wrap with plastic wrap. The chicken should be cooked very lightly, pink inside the bones and with a gelatinous skin.

Heat 1 tbsp of the chicken fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and remaining 2 slices of ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the rice and toss until well coated and turning opaque. Add 1.25 litres of the reserved chicken stock, the salt and soy sauce. Cook in a rice cooker.

To make the chili sauce, combine chilies, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt in a mortar and pound to a paste. Add the lemon juice and 1–2 tablespoons of hot chicken stock and pound again. Set aside.

To make the spring onion and ginger oil, add the spring onion, ginger and salt to a heatproof mortar and pound lightly. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and pour onto the mixture. Once the sizzling stops, combine lightly with the pestle and leave to infuse for a few minutes.

To make the dressing, mix the sesame oil and soy sauce with 60 ml of the chicken stock. If you have any remaining chicken stock, you can season it and add a few onion slices. This can be served as a light broth to accompany the meal.Slice the chicken and pour the dressing over it. Scatter with a bit of coriander and serve with the rice, condiments, broth and garnishes.

I adapted this recipe (by adapted, I mean simplified and cut corners because I am time poor (read: too lazy)). So I adapted it by using drumsticks instead of a whole chicken and I got bored before I managed to make the chilli sauce so I just sprinkled red chillies on top of the chicken as garnish, haha!!! The chicken rice was yummy and full of chicken-y flavour and the chicken meat was succulent and moist. But yeah, it needed a chili sauce kick so next time, I will just buy ready-made chili sauce to go with it…

Who else loves chicken rice?

Originally published at




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