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Hainanese Chicken Rice

Note: Longgg post ahead with detailed tips and photos, or you can skip right to the printable recipe via the ‘Get Recipe’ button on the photos.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

This is the recipe for the “white chicken” version (白雞) of Hainanese chicken rice (海南鸡饭), one of Singapore’s most famous hawker dish.  Actually this “national dish” is not exclusive to Singapore – you can find good Hainanese chicken rice in other parts of South East Asia (such as in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam). I think our standard here is pretty good though!

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

And maybe that’s because there are just so many chicken rice stalls here – you can literally find a chicken rice stall everywhere here at almost every hawker center aisle, food court, coffee shop and eating corner.

Related Recipes:
Hainanese Chicken Rice Chilli & Ginger Sauces Recipe

I’m really picky about my chicken rice! My ultimate favourite chicken rice stall in Singapore is the one at the Beach Road “Army market” – so perfect in taste, affordable and great service even after all these years. So honestly my home version will never be as good as the one at Army market, but it is yummy in its own way, with a very nice home-cooked flavour to it.

See Also:

Rice Cooker Chicken Rice

And the home-cooked version is also quite cheap to make as you can buy a whole kampong chicken (about S$10) and cook for a family of four or more. Read this page for photos and tips on making authentic Hainanese chicken rice, and the next page for the printable recipe.

Hainanese Method of Cooking the Chicken

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

  • The authentic Hainanese way of cooking the chicken is by poaching (seeping the chicken in hot water), NOT steamed or boiled or any other way. However, there is nothing wrong if you choose to steam or boil the chicken in your home-cooked version. My mum cooks chicken rice by steaming the chicken and it tastes awesome, just not authentic XD
  • How to cook the chicken: Seep the chicken inside a pot of hot water (rapidly boiled then heat turned off). After that, dip the chicken in a large bowl of ice water for a few minutes to cool the chicken. Then the stock is reheated back to boiling, turn off the heat, and return the chicken back to the pot to seep. Repeat the process a few times until chicken is cooked. Don’t worry, the chicken will be nicely cooked as long as you reheat the broth before seeping the chicken during each interval.
  • The hawkers use a S hook to effortlessly take the chicken in and out of the pot. For me, I use a very sturdy and traditional Chinese spider strainer (see picture) to do the job.
  • Instead of measuring the water, it should just be enough to cover the chicken completely. There is no direct heat so you don’t have to compensate for water lost through simmering (evaporation). Use a pot with just the right size for fitting the chicken, so that you use as minimal water as possible (and the broth will be richer).
  • Do not over-stuff the cavity; it should only be about half-filled to allow space and ventilation within the cavity.
  • The good thing about cooking the chicken this way is that it is not over-cooked and juicy. Also, the broth is quite clear and mild compared to other methods of cooking, which is the very signature Hainanese chicken rice soup taste/look you will not get from other methods of cooking the chicken.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

  • If you are cooking another chicken in the next 2-3 days, you can re-use the chicken broth (kept in a glass jar refrigerated). If not, just use the leftover broth as a base (in place of plain water) for cooking other Chinese soups.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

  • And above is my simple kitchen set-up for cooking the chicken.

Tips for making flavourful chicken rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

  • Delicious chicken rice must be oily and fragrant. To achieve this, you need chicken skin to make rendered chicken fat (oil)! The more, the better! Some time back, I saw Sheng Siong at Bedok Interchange selling chicken skin. Other than that, it’s rarer than the blue moon to see supermarkets selling chicken skin. My instagram friend received a weird look from the NTUC auntie just for asking >_< You can try asking the wet market stalls to save the skin for you if you’re a regular. For me, I gathered and freeze the skin from chicken drumstick/thighs until I have enough to make chicken rice. The skinless chicken is ideal for brewing Chinese soup. The chicken skin makes a world of difference in the flavour of the rice.
  • Since the chicken broth from poaching the chicken is quite mild in the home-cooked version (commercial stalls re-use the stock several times to cook multiple chickens), you may want to season the rice with some chicken seasoning powder (optional) if you really want that signature rich chicken flavour that you are used to.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Sauces (Condiments)

Hainanese Chicken Rice Chilli & Ginger Sauces Recipe


Cutting and serving boneless chicken

How to carve boneless chicken
How to carve the chicken and serve it boneless, after it is cooked – click the tutorial here

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

I have really bad knife skills! But the tutorial should be sufficient even for a noob cook like me to do a decent job carving out boneless chicken after it is cooked.

14 comments on “Hainanese Chicken Rice”

  1. Seriously, you cook just like a profi! Thank you for sharing the recipe the stey-by-step pictures. I know how much work it involves. Thanks!!!

  2. Although there are many chicken rice stalls to choose from in Singapore, not all are nice tasting. I’m glad the home-made version is as good as the better ones out there. :)

  3. I love this dish but never made it at home…thanks for the recipe and all the tips.
    Enjoy your week Wiffy :)

  4. Hi, just curious but what is the black sauce they usually serve with chicken rice at the hawker centres and how to prepare it? Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the awesome receip!!! Taste really authentic n great.

  6. Please if you could specifically mention how long to seep in boiling water and how many minutes to soak in ice water. And roughtly how many times to repeat this. I am quite lost and confused without timing instruction. Thank you

  7. So am I right that I need to soak the chicken for a total of 4 times if 15 mins?

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