No.175 Singaporean Hainanese Chicken Rice

This a long recipe but it is the best approximation to Singaporean Hainanese chicken rice you can do at home outside of Asia. This is a dish dear to my heart after many late nights at Hawker Centres. The thing you need to understand as a westerner is that these hawker stalls will only specialise in a few dishes at most and the vendor will likely have made this same dish for decades. Which puts into comparison the menus of some of our restaurants that often change completely within a matter of weeks.  Hopefully with this recipe you will get close to the authentic taste.

A note on your chicken choice if I may. Free range chicken is expensive but the taste is superior and since the chicken is the main ingredient here it is worth the cost. If you do use battery chicken this dish will be rather tasteless.

You might also wonder why a little stock is being added to the chicken for cooking. It is a method used by some hawkers to intensify the flavour of the chicken but obvious they have the leftover water, now stock from the day before. If you are having to use a non-free-range chicken then this will really help build the flavour.

Shaoxing rice wine is hard to find but as this dish comes from southern China, and it being a key flavour, it is worth taking the time to go to an Asian supermarket to get some. Some recipes will say just to use regular white wine if your struggling but trust me I tried, it doesn’t work.

Lastly, take your time. This dish is hard to make because the ingredients are so simple and rushing any part can’t be redeemed. Take a Saturday afternoon and take your time, you will be rewarded.


Difficulty: Take Your Time

Time: A Saturday Afternoon


1.5kg Free Range Chicken

50ml of Shaoxing Rice Wine

250ml of Chicken Stock

1 thumb sized piece of Ginger

4 Spring Onions


2 tablespoons of Sesame Oil

Chilli Sauce

4 Red Chillies

1 Clove of Garlic

1 tablespoon of Rice Wine Vinegar

2 tablespoons of White Sugar

2 tablespoons of rendered Chicken Fat (from the cooking of the Chicken)

Spring Onions with Ginger

6 Spring Onions

1 thumb sized piece of Ginger

2 tablespoons of rendered Chicken Fat (from the cooking of the Chicken)

Soy Dipping Sauce

30ml of Soy Sauce

½ teaspoon of Honey

30ml of Water

1 teaspoon of Sesame Oil

¼ teaspoon of Cornflour


300g of Jasmine Rice

Stock from cooking the Chicken

To serve

Cucumber to serve

Part 1- Cooking the Chicken

1. Insert a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken. Cut off any excess fat and retain.

2. Add the chicken to a large stock pot before adding the stock, rice wine, thumb of ginger roughly chopped and 4 whole spring onions. Cover with water.

3. Bring to a bare simmer and cook until the chicken reads 75 degrees Celsius.

4. Once the temperature has been reached. Remove from water (which is now a light stock, keep this). Check the temperature of the thigh meat. If not 75 degrees Celsius or above return to the pot and simmer until this is reached.

5. If the temperature has been reached submerge the chicken in ice cold water. After 10 minutes by which it should have cooled place on a wire rack and rub 2 tablespoons of sesame oil into the skin. Store in the fridge.

Part 2- Making the Sauce etc

1. Render the chicken fat by in a sauce pan adding the fat trimmed from the chicken and the excess fat from the stock with 4 tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes. After this remove the fat and keep to one side

2. Add all the ingredients for the soy dipping sauce to a small pan. Whisk until thickened. Pour in a small dipping bowl and allow to cool. 

3. Make the chilli sauce by finely dicing the chilli and garlic. Then add to the rice wine vinegar, chicken fat and sugar. Mix and add extra chilli, sugar or vinegar as needed.

4. Slice the greens of 6 spring onions into strips and grate the remaining ginger.

5. Gentle fry the spring onions and ginger with 2 tablespoons of chicken fat until softened.

Part 3- Cooking the Rice then serving

1.  Strain the liquid (stock) from cooking the chicken. Return to a large pan and reduce by half.

2. Cook your rice however your normally cook it but use this reduced stock instead of the water.

3. Take your chicken and remove the breasts with the skin intact. Slice in pieces. Remove the legs and divide into drum and thighs. This is traditionally eaten cold but you can reheat in a steamer if you prefer. Slice the cucumber in thick slices. Assemble on a plate.

4. Serve the rice individually on plates with the chicken in the centre to share along with the dipping sauces and spring onions with ginger.

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