Hainanese Chicken Rice

This blog post has been months in the making. I keep making this dish, and intending to take a photo of it to post on this blog, and inevitably skip the photo-taking part and head straight to eating it.

Anyway, after 3 tries, I finally have some photos!

Hainanese chicken rice is another Malaysian comfort food that I absolutely adore. I love it’s soft and subtle flavour, and the warm feeling it leaves in my tummy as I am eating it. I crave this dish particularly when I am sick, because of the nice soup that accompanies it.

I would not recommend turning this into lunches. We do, but it never tastes the same or as soft after being in the microwave. Best to do this dish for a dinner party, where everyone can enjoy it fresh out of the pot.

Hope you like it!

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cooking Time: 50 minutes + 30 minutes resting

Source: Adapted and tweaked from Adam Liaw’s grandmother’s recipe – http://adamliaw.com/recipe/hainanese-chicken-rice/

Serves: 4-6 people


1 whole chicken (approximately 1.5kg)

5 whole cloves of garlic

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

7 thick slices of ginger, unpeeled

4 pandan leaves

5 stalks of spring onion

1 tbsp sesame oil

4 cups jasmine rice

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp light soy sauce

Chilli Sauce

6 red birds-eye chillies

2 tbsp grated ginger

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp caster sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice


1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp light soy sauce


  1. Chicken rice:Trim any visible fat and excess skin from the chicken. Get a large fry pan (this fry pan should be big enough to fry all 4 cups of your jasmine rice, so keep that in mind), put the fat, skins and about 2 tablespoons of water in over a medium high heat. Within 10 minutes, the water will turn into a lovely chicken oil, keep cooking it out until there is no water left and the chicken fats and skins have browned. Remove the crispy pieces of fried fat and skins, keep the oil in the pan. (You do not need the crispy pieces of fried fat for this dish, but they are excellent served over cooked noodles.)
    • While pan is still hot, put in the 2 cloves of chopped garlic, and 2 thick slices of unpeeled ginger to lightly fry. Add the rice and toss until well coated and turning opaque. It is ok if your rice browns in the pan, it just add a lovely nutty flavour to the chicken rice. Not too dark though, then it will be burnt rice, and nobody wants that 🙂
    • Put your rice mixture into your rice cooker, knot your pandan leaves and layer them in between folds of rice. Add 6 cups of chicken stock, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp light soy sauce. Mix and then press go.
  2. The chook:Find a very large pot. Put the 5 whole garlic cloves, 5 slices of ginger and 2 stalks of spring onion in the cavity of the chicken and place breast-side down in a large pot. Cover with water, cut up 2 more stalks of spring onion and put into the water. 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. Let it rest now.
    • NB: if your chicken is not fully immersed in the water, do not panic. Just stand over your pot and keep basting your chicken bum with the poaching liquid. This will ensure an evenly cooked, albeit inefficient, chook.
  3. Chilli sauceCombine chillies, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt in a mortar and pound to a paste (or combine in a nutri-bullet). Add the lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of hot chicken stock and pound again. Set aside.
  4. Soup:Mix the sesame oil and soy sauce with 60ml of the chicken stock. If you have any remaining chicken stock after that, you can season it and add a few onion slices. This can be served as a light broth to accompany the meal.
  5. Final touches:In a small bowl, mix some sesame oil and some soy sauce (1:2). Grab some form of a kitchen brush, and liberally coat your chook with this mixture. Slice the chicken Chinese-style and pour the dressing over it. Serve with the rice, condiments, broth and garnishes.
Chook in the pot
Fry off the chicken fat for chicken rice
Pop in garlic and ginger into the chicken oil
Fry off your rice
Rice should turn a bit brown
Gives it a nutty flavour
And then into the rice cooker with your chicken stock
Coat your chook with sesame oil and soy sauce
Ready to serve

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