Hainanese Chicken Rice – Whip It UP!

chicken rice
Traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice

By Tan Kia Yin 

A Hainanese chicken rice recipe recently published in the UK media claiming to
be a Singapore classic dish caused a furore among Singaporeans here and abroad.
Apart from one similarity – poaching – between the two recipes, the traditional
method may appear elaborate, yet is easy to master. Here’s the real deal with a
foolproof technique to get silky-smooth succulent chicken.

Total time: 1½ hours
Cost: S$15.00
Difficulty: 3/5
Servings: 3-4 persons

A: To Poach Chicken
1.5 kg kampong (free-range) chicken, washed and rinsed
2-3 spring onions
5 slices ginger
2 teaspoons salt to rub on chicken
2 teaspoons sesame oil, to rub on cooked chicken

B: To Cook Rice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
50g ginger, peeled and minced
5 shallots, peeled and minced
560g raw rice, washed
2 screwpine (pandan) leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, white portion only, bruised
730ml poaching broth

C: To Season Chicken
3 tablespoons poaching broth
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

D: Ginger Garlic Chilli Sauce
3 large red chillies, seeded
4 bird’s eye chillies (chilli padi)
Thumb-size ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons poaching broth
4 calamansi, juice only
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt

E: Scalded Beansprouts
200g fresh bean sprouts, tailed
1½ teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

F: Garnish For Beansprouts
1 tablespoon fried shallots
1 stalk coriander, chopped
2 red chillies, sliced


1. Poaching Chicken: Rub chicken all over with salt, gently massaging the bird simultaneously. Stuff ginger and spring onions inside its cavity.

2. Meanwhile, bring 5 litres of water to a rolling boil in a deep saucepan. Lower chicken into the boiling water. Lift it up by its neck. Plunge it back into the boiling water. Repeat twice.

3. Return chicken back into the same pot of water. Reduce heat to medium. Poach for 20 minutes. Turn heat off immediately.

4. Leave chicken inside saucepan for another 20 minutes. This is the poaching broth.

5. Fill up a large basin with water. Put in ice cubes from 2 trays. Immerse chicken in an ice bath for the final 20 minutes of the cooking process.


6. Remove chicken from the ice bath. Rub it, inside and out, with sesame oil (under A ingredients). Pour seasoning (C ingredients) all over chicken. Chop it into bite-sized pieces just before serving.

7. Chicken Rice: Heat up sesame oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Fry minced ingredients until aromatic. Add in rice. Stir-fry a few minutes. Pour in poaching broth.

8. Tie each pandan leaf into a knot to flavour rice while it cooks. Also, add in lemongrass.


9. Transfer to a rice cooker to cook.


10. Ginger garlic chilli sauce: While chicken rice is cooking, combine chilli, ginger and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until it is finely minced. Pour in broth and citrus juice. Mix till blended. Season with salt and sugar to taste.

11. Scalded beansprouts: Bring 2 litres of water to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Put in sprouts and scald for 30 seconds. Drain, shaking away excess water. In a small rice bowl, combine seasoning. Mix well. Pour over sprouts. Add in F ingredients (shallots, coriander and chilli). Toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately.


12. Serve with piping hot rice and crunchy bean sprouts.

TIP:  Kampong chicken has a firmer texture with more bite, has more flavour and hence, tastier than battery-caged chickens.

TECHNIQUE: For silky smooth poached chicken the likes of skilled hawkers, follow Kia Yin’s tried and tested method of poaching, soaking and bathing the bird in an ice bath using a simple 20-minute guideline for each process.

Click on www.storm.sg/food for more recipes and reviews of restaurants.

If you have a simple recipe you would like to share, do email it to whipitup@storm.sg

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