Cơm gà Hải Nam (Hainanese chicken rice) is undoubtedly one of the most well-loved chicken dishes. Created by Chinese immigrants living in Singapore, this iconic Asian recipe has gained worldwide recognition, and rightfully so.
The chicken is so tender and juicy that I always have to ask for a second. And it would be a sin not to mention the rice, which is toasted with aromatics and then cooked to perfection in the chicken cooking water.
Every ingredient comes together perfectly to create a culinary experience that you’ll never forget. In today’s recipe, let’s learn a fail-proof recipe for the most authentic Hainanese chicken rice!
Hainanese Chicken Rice: A Singaporean Classic
Ask any Singaporean you meet about their national dish, and you will most likely hear them mention Hainanese chicken rice. As mentioned before, this dish was a creation of the immigrants from Haian, a province in the South of China.
Food experts believe that this Singaporean staple is an adaptation of Wenchang chicken rice, a Hainan recipe that first appeared during the Qin dynasty. Today, you can find a version of Hainanese chicken rice in many South East Asian countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Preparing Hainanese chicken rice at home starts with having the right kitchen tools. Here is the list of what you need.
- Knives and chopping boards: Use different sets of knives and chopping boards for the raw and cooked ingredients.
- Pan: For toasting the rice.
- Ladle: For ladling the chicken cooking broth.
- Spatula: For stirring the rice while cooking.
- Basting brush: For brushing sesame oil on the boiled chicken, which gives them a delicious sheen and prevents the skins from drying out.
- Mixing bowl: For mixing the sauces.
- Large bowl: For the ice bath
- Large pot: For boiling the chicken.
- Tongs: For flipping the chicken during boiling.
- Rice cooker and rice paddle: Allows you to cook perfect rice with just a press of a button.
You’ll use a whole chicken for this recipe. In addition, I’ll also include the ingredients for 3 types of sauces that people commonly serve with Hainanese chicken rice.
- Whole chicken: Organic or fresh chicken is the best choice.
- Chicken fat: Your chicken rice will taste more authentic if cooked with chicken fat instead of cooking oil.
- Rice: I love using Thai jasmine rice because of its fragrance, but you can use your favorite long-grain rice.
- Sesame oil: For making the sauces and brushing the chicken.
- Aromatics: Ginger, garlic, shallots, and scallions
- Spices: sugar and salt
- Garlic and ginger sauce: Made from salt, scallions, sesame oil, and ginger, garlic, and chicken fat mixture.
- Dark soy sauce: Contains the ginger, garlic, and fat mixture, chicken stock, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce.
- Chili sauce: Ginger-garlic mixture combined with ground chili, chicken broth, lime juice, sugar, and oyster sauce.
I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Follow the instructions below to cook up your yummy Hainanese chicken rice!
Slice half of the ginger thinly and mince the other half.
Mince the garlic.
Separate the green and white parts of the scallions. Mince one part of the scallions.
Sprinkle salt all over the chicken surface and inside the cavity. Use your hands to gently rub the salt into the chicken.
Put the sliced ginger and the green part of the scallions into the cavity. Set aside some ginger slices for boiling the chicken.
Pour about 12.5 cups (3 liters) of water into a pot. Then, add 1 tablespoon of salt, a few ginger slices, the scallions’ white parts, and shallots.
Bring the water to a rapid simmer. Slowly dip the chicken in the water and rotate it. Doing this ensures that the bird comes into contact with the hot water gradually, which helps the skin stretch evenly and prevents it from cracking.
Add the chicken completely to the pot. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the chicken for about 45 minutes. Skim the water frequently and flip the chicken halfway through cooking.
Prepare a large bowl of iced water in advance while boiling the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it to the ice bath to crisp up the skin and prevent browning. Remember to turn the chicken, so every part is chilled evenly.
Set aside about 1.5 cups (350 milliliters) of the broth from boiling the chicken. Bring the remaining water to a boil and season it with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
When serving the dish, ladle the seasoned chicken stock into a bowl and sprinkle the minced scallions on top.
Heat the chicken fat, minced ginger, and garlic in a pan. When the fat has melted and the ginger and garlic turn fragrant, set aside one part of this mixture.
Fry the remaining spice mixture until golden. Then, add the rice and stir it over low heat for about 10 minutes until it has a milky color. Remove from heat.
Add the rice to your rice cooker and pour in 1.5 cups of the chicken broth. Cook the rice in regular mode. When the rice is cooked, fluff it up using the rice paddle.
You’ll make 3 kinds of sauces to serve with Hainanese chicken rice.
Heat 1.5 tablespoons of the ginger, garlic, and fat mixture in a pan. Once fragrant, stir in the scallions. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Mix well, then remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.
Heat up 1.5 tablespoons of the ginger and garlic mixture in a pan. When the mixture turns fragrant, add 1 tablespoon of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Stir well, then turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl.
Mix the following ingredients together: 1 tablespoon of the ginger-garlic mixture, 2 tablespoons of ground chili, 1 tablespoon of chicken broth, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.
Remove the ginger and scallions from the chicken’s cavity. Brush sesame oil on the chicken skin to prevent it from drying out.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Spoon the rice onto a plate. Arrange the chopped chicken pieces on the plate and garnish with sliced cucumber. Serve the dish with the seasoned chicken broth and dipping sauces.
I’ve gathered some useful notes that will help you cook up this recipe with ease. Check them out.
- If you have leftover chicken broth, you can store it in the freezer for a few months.
- To add some colors to the chicken, stir fry some minced fresh turmeric (or turmeric powder) with the chicken fat. Then, brush this mixture on the cooked chicken.
- Opt for a kind of rice that is not too sticky.
- Remember to only use low heat to simmer the chicken to avoid overcooking it. In my experience, 45 minutes is the ideal cooking time.
Once you get the hang of how to make Hainanese chicken rice, I’m sure that it will become one of your favorite chicken dishes. As the recipe asks for a whole chicken, it’s a great choice for family meals, or when you have some friends coming over.
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6 servings per container
- Amount Per ServingCalories837
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat 6.7g 30%
- Cholesterol 263mg 88%
- Sodium 617mg 26%
- Potassium 1003mg 29%
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
- Sugars 5.1g
- Protein 101.2g 202%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Table of Contents
- Hainanese Chicken Rice: A Singaporean Classic
- Don’t Miss These Notes
- Experience The Ultimate Chicken Dish In Hainanese Style
- The Best Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe
- Nutrition Facts