Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hainanese Chicken

In the days when i lived in a shared house, i shared what was possibly the least inspiring kitchen ever. An old oven, electric stovetop, and a lack of my own cooking equipment led to a proliferation of burrito packets, quick pastas and frozen meals. The few dishes that i did cook were distinctly... awful. But the biggest kitchen sin i committed was palming off chicken boiled chicken thighs with rice and soy sauce as as quick 'Hainanese Chicken'. I did this dish a great disservice because what i cooked was not even a slight homage to the real deal.

Hainanese Chicken is prevalent at Hawker stands in Singapore, where people line up for miles to savor the delicately poached (never, ever boiled) chicken, served with the broth in which it was cooked and delicious rice cooked with fat from the chicken. Every Singaporean and Malaysian i meet seems to be a connoiseur of chicken and rice, so it is with a sigh of relief that i cooked this dish for unsuspecting caucasian folk. Surprisingly though, my dish came out equal to any i have had in Melbourne. Normally when i've had it in Melbourne, it has been served with soy sauce and sometimes chilli, but after making it i've become a devotee of the deliciously fresh and zingy ginger dipping sauce.

Ingredients (Serves 4)


  • 1 1.5-2kg free range chicken
  • 8 'coins' of ginger
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chinese cooking wine


  • 1 1/2 cups rice, washed and dried
  • 2 tbsp fat from the chicken (see method)
  • 1 1/2 cups broth in which chicken was cooked
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • A 1 inch cube of ginger


  • 1 kg chicken wings
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 'coins' ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly

Chilli Sambal

  •  10 long chillis
  • 10 birds eye chillis
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp oil

Ginger Dipping Sauce

  • 10cm piece ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp broth in which chicken was cooked
  • 1 dash lemon juice



Bring a pot large enough to just fit the chicken, filled with water, to the boil
Coarsely chop 1/2 the ginger, garlic and scallions and stuff them into the chicken cavity

Turn the pot of water off the boil and place the chicken in the pot
Place the remaining ginger, garlic and scallions into the water and cover the pot

Let set for 30 minutes
Drain the water from the cavity of the chicken then return to the pot with the water
Bring the chicken and broth back to an almost boil (but not quite)
Remove from heat, cover and let sit for a further 30 minutes
Combine the sesame oil and soy sauce
Remove the chicken from the broth and rub with soy sauce and sesame oil

Chop into bite sizes pieces and transfer to serving plates

SoupPlace all ingredients except the salt into a saucepan and just barely cover with water

Bring to the boil then reduce heat and cook for 1-2 hours
When the whole chicken has been removed from the other broth, transfer this broth to that pot
Bring to a boil boil until reduced by about 30%.
Skim the fat from the broth and set aside for the rice
Drain through as sieve lined with cheesecloth
Season to taste

Transfer to serving bowls and serve with sliced scallions


Finely chop the ginger and garlic
Take 2 tbsp of the reserved chicken fat and heat in a saucepan over medium heat
Add the garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant

Add the rice and fry for a further 1 minute.

Transfer to rice cooker with 1 1/2 cups of the soup and cook as per rice cooker instructions

Transfer to serving plate

Chilli Sambal

Coarsely chop the chillis, garlic and shallots

Add the oil to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat

Add the chillis, garlic and shallots and fry until fragrant
Add the vinegar, rice wine, sugar and salt and fry until sugar is dissolved

Transfer to a blender and blend into a coarse puree

Transfer to dipping bowls

Ginger Dipping Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend to a fine puree

Transfer to dipping bowls


  1. You finally made your chicken rice. Good work! Add some chopped spring onion and sesame oil to the ginger sauce, it is quite a traditional way for white cut chicken.

  2. hehe yes finally Suresh! It was very worth it too, so succulent! I'll try that next time, though since i've started the blog i've only ever made one dish twice!



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