Hainanese Chicken with Rice Recipe

Hainanese Chicken with Rice

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If you’ve never tried Hainanese Chicken with Rice, you should as soon as possible! An entire poached chicken served with chilli sauce and chopped cucumber. Packed with flavour in every bite, its otherwise delicate taste will surprise you.

What is Hainanese Chicken?

Hainanese Chicken is a classic Chinese dish originating from, unsurprisingly from Hainan, China, a small tropical island located at the southern tip of the country.

It has become quite a famous dish, especially in other southeast countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. It’s so popular in Singapore that it is considered one of their national dishes and is also strongly associated with Singaporean cuisine. World-renowned chef Anthony Bourdain reviewed the dish during one of his cooking shows. He is often credited for putting Hainanese chicken on the international map of must-try foods.

The dish is usually served with rice, chopped cucumber and some sauces on the side. The most popular three are chilli sauce, ginger sauce, and a sweet dark black soy sauce.

What Makes It So Special?

So what makes Hainanese chicken so special?

For starters, the entire chicken is poached whole. This allows the skin to separate from the rest of the chicken to create a rich layer of fat and skin. With a protective barrier, the flesh stays tender and juicy as well.

The rice is also cooked in the leftover chicken fat and chicken stock from the poaching process. The subtle flavour of chicken is infused into the rice which elevates the whole experience.

To top everything off, it is often served with chopped cucumber and a variety of sauces on the side. The sauces in this recipe are all optional but strongly recommended.

This recipe takes a little more work than other Dumpling Connection recipes, but the results are well worth the effort! If the challenge seems too daunting, you can always order Hainanese chicken from your local Chinese restaurant. Don’t forget to try our other chicken recipes like Thai Basil Chicken or Bang Bang Chicken. Now let’s get started on this recipe!

Hainanese Chicken with Rice Recipe

An entire poached chicken served with chilli sauce and chopped cucumber. Packed with flavour in every bite, its otherwise delicate taste will surprise you.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: chicken, chinese, Hainanese Chicken
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken (3-3½ lbs)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 12-14 cups water
  • 2-inch piece ginger
  • 2 scallions
  • ice

Rice:

  • chicken fat, (taken from chicken)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • chicken stock, (from cooking chicken)
  • 2 tsp salt

Ginger-Garlic Sauce (Optional):

  • 4-inch piece ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • pinch of salt

Sweet Dark Soy Sauce (Optional):

  • cup water
  • 3 tbsp rock sugar
  • cup dark soy sauce

Chilli Sauce (Optional):

  • 6 fresh red chillies
  • 3-inch piece ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • juice from 1 small lime
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 3-5 tbsp chicken broth, (from cooking chicken)

Ginger-Scallion Oil Sauce (Optional):

  • 2 scallions
  • 4-inch piece ginger
  • ⅓-½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp salt, (or to taste)

Other:

  • fresh cilantro

Instructions

Chicken:

  • Start by cleaning the chicken. Pluck any remaining feathers from the skin and then rinse the chicken under cold running water. Remove the chicken fat located at the back of the cavity or any other excess fat and set them aside (do not discard). Transfer the chicken to a plate and pat dry.
  • Sprinkle the salt all over the chicken and lightly rub it in. This will give the skin a nice sheen. Set the entire chicken aside and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Peel the ginger and chop the ends off the scallions. Cut the scallion into half so it fits in the pot easier. Slice the ginger into 4-5 slices.
  • In a large stockpot, add the water, ginger and scallions to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium. Rinse the salt off the chicken and then carefully lower the chicken into the boiling water. Position the chicken breast-side up with an inch of water covering it.
  • Let the water reach a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (75°C). Right before the 30 minutes is up, prepare a large ice bath.
  • After, remove the pot from the heat and carefully lift the chicken out of the pot. Drain the water from the cavity of the chicken back into the pot and then lower it into the ice bath. Save the water from cooking the chicken and remove the ginger and scallions. You will need it later to make the rice.
  • Let the chicken sit in the ice bath for 15 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooled. After, drain and cover with plastic wrap until you’re ready to cut and serve. The ice bath is required to stop the cooking process immediately which locks in the juices and gives a smoother texture.

Rice:

  • While the chicken is cooling, start making the rice. Peel and mince the cloves of garlic.
  • Heat a wok or pan over medium heat. Add the chicken fat and render for a minute. After, stir in the minced garlic.
  • Wash and drain your rice.
  • Fry the garlic for 30 seconds before adding in the uncooked rice. Stir everything together for 2 minutes.
  • Then, turn off the heat and add your rice to your rice cooker. Add in the appropriate amount of chicken stock you made from cooking the chicken (instead of water, the amount will vary depending on the rice cooker) and salt. Close the lid and press START.
  • If you don’t have a rice cooker, soak your rice for 20 minutes after washing. Then drain before cooking it with the rendered fat. Follow steps 1 to 4 but instead of adding everything to a rice cooker, transfer it to a medium or large pot. Add 3 cups of chicken stock and salt. Stir everything together. Cover the pot and bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat before reducing the heat to the lowest setting. Let the rice simmer and cook with the lid still on for 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is done. Make sure to keep an eye on it or else the rice might burn or the liquid may overflow.
  • While your rice is cooking, you can prep the cucumber, cilantro and sauces. Rinse and chop off both ends of the cucumber. Then slice them. If you are using other vegetables, slice those up as well. Wash your cilantro and set it aside to dry.

Ginger-Garlic Sauce (Optional):

  • Peel the ginger and garlic. Grate the ginger and make sure to save the juices. Then mince the garlic finely. Mix the ginger and garlic together.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and then add the ginger and garlic mixture. Gently fry them until it becomes aromatic and the spicy raw flavour of the uncooked ginger and garlic is gone.
  • Add salt to taste and then transfer to a sauce dish.

Sweet Dark Soy Sauce (Optional):

  • Clean off the saucepan and start making the second sauce. Heat the water and sugar together over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and to prevent it from burning. When the sugar mixture begins to thicken into a simple syrup, add in the dark soy sauce and stir to combine.
  • When fully combined, remove from heat and transfer to a sauce dish.

Chilli Sauce (Optional):

  • Peel the garlic and ginger. Remove the stems of the chillies.
  • After, mince the garlic and chilli peppers finely. Grate the ginger and make sure to save the juice.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and chilli peppers to a sauce dish. Mix everything together.
  • Juice the lime directly into the sauce dish and add in the remaining ingredients for the chilli sauce except for the chicken broth.
  • Add the chicken broth 1 tablespoon at a time until a sauce consistency is achieved. You can add less or skip adding the chicken broth if you would like a thicker sauce.

Ginger-Scallion Oil Sauce (Optional):

  • Wash the scallions and pat them dry. Chop off the ends and then mince them finely. You should end up with 4 tablespoons finely minced scallions.
  • Peel and then grate or mince the ginger. Make sure to save the juices. You should end up with 3 tablespoons of ginger.
  • Combine the scallion, ginger, oil, and salt in a sauce (adjusting the oil and salt to your tastes).

Serving:

  • Slice the chicken and plate. Garnish with cilantro and add your sliced cucumber to the plate. Scoop your rice into bowls and it’s ready to serve with the sauces on the side. Enjoy!
    Note: You can save any unused broth for future recipes or drizzle it onto the rice and chicken.

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