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A plate of Hainanese chicken rice with three sauces, surrounded by cucumber and tomato slices.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice is the national dish of Singapore, an amazing array of flavors.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Singaporean
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 4
Calories 1441kcal
Author Darlene at International Cuisine



  • 1 large whole chicken at room temperature
  • 2 inches fresh unpeeled ginger
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp monosodium glutamate or 1 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • coriander to serve
  • sliced cucumber to serve
  • sliced tomato to serve

Ginger and spring onion oil

  • 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • ½ tsp fleur de sol
  • 4 spring onions thinly sliced, green tops reserved for chicken poaching.
  • ¼ cup peanut oil

Chicken Rice

  • 3 1/3 cups jasmine rice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 shallots roughly sliced
  • 2-3 pandan leaves optional


  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock from poaching chicken

Chili Sauce for Chicken

  • 4-6 red birds-eye chilies
  • 6 thick slices of peeled fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 Cup chicken stock from poaching chicken
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp rendered chicken fat



  • Remove the fat deposits from inside the cavity of the chicken, near the tail. Roughly chop the fat and place in a small frying pan over very low heat to render. Render the chicken fat, stirring occasionally for about an hour until you all the fat is rendered and the solids are crisp. Remove the solids and use them for another purpose. Reserve the chicken oil. You will use this for both the chili sauce and the chicken rice.

For the ginger and spring onion oil.

  • Pound the ginger and salt to a rough paste with a heatproof mortar and pestle.
  • Add the spring onion and pound lightly to combine.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a small frying pan until it is smoking then pour the hot oil over the ginger mixture. Stir, then set aside until ready to serve.
    A bowl of ginger and spring onion oil

For the chili sauce :

  • Pound the chili, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt together in a mortar and pestle until very smooth. Pounding chili can take some time so to speed up the process you can start it in a blender or food processor and pound to finish, or grate the ingredients into the mortar using a rasp grater.
  • Add the boiling stock to the pounded mixture.
  • Stir in the juice, adjust the seasoning if necessary so that the balance of sweet, sour and salty is perfect.
  • Heat the chicken oil in a small saucepan until hot, the pour over the chili mixture and stir to combine.
    Abowl of chili sauce for Hiananese chicken rice

To begin poaching the chicken:

  • Pound the unpeeled ginger in a mortar and pestle and add to a very large pot containing about 1 gallon of water, along with the tops of the spring onions used for the ginger and spring onion oil.
  • Add the salt and MSG or chicken stock powder (if using) and bring to the boil over high heat.
  • Taste the water and adjust the amount of salt so that it tastes savory and a little salty.
  • Reduce the heat to very low and add the chicken to the pot.
  • There should be enough water in the pot so that the chicken doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot, as that will cause the skin to tear.
  • Using Poultry hooks, lift the chicken in and out of the water a couple of times to get the liquid in the chicken’s cavity.
  • If you have poultry hooks, use them to hang the chicken in the pot.
  • The water should now be steaming but not bubbling. Keep the heat low at this level and cook the chicken for 45 minutes.
  • Using the poultry hook (or slotted ladle), carefully lift the chicken out of the pan, ensuring you don’t break the skin, and plunge into a large bowl or sink of salted iced water.
  • Reserve the stock and stand the chicken in the iced water for at least 10 minutes, turning once. This will stop the cooking and give the skin its delicious gelatinous texture.
  • Remove from the iced water and hang over a bowl or the sink to drain well.
  • Rub the skin all over with the sesame oil.
  • The chicken should be cooked very lightly, pink inside the bones and with a gelatinous skin.

To make the chicken rice:

  • Pound the garlic and shallot lightly with a mortar and pestle.
  • Combine the rendered chicken oil with vegetable oil to make ½ a cup of oil.
  • Heat in a wok over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and ginger stir until starting to brown, then strain through a sieve.
  • Reserve the oil and discard the solids.
  • Place the rice in a rice cooker or heavy-based saucepan. Add about 5 cups of the reserved stock from the chicken (strained) and the reserved flavored chicken oil.
  • Tie the pandan leaves in a knot (if using) and add to the rice.
  • If cooking in a rice cooker follow cooker directions. If cooking in a pot, bring to the boil over high heat and continue to boil for about 5 minutes until the level of the liquid reaches the top of the rice, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook for 12 minutes, then remove from the heat and stand for another 10 minutes.

For the dressing:

  • Combine the ingredients with about half a cup of the stock from cooking the chicken.

Putting it all together:

  • When the rice is ready, use a cleaver to slice and debone the chicken Chinese-style and pour the dressing over it. Scatter with the coriander sprigs, and serve with sliced cucumber, tomato and serve with the rice and sauces.


Calories: 1441kcal | Carbohydrates: 144g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 72g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 2590mg | Potassium: 1117mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1125IU | Vitamin C: 82mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 5mg