Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.


Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice

Recommended Posts

Well, this recipe has been in my family since forever, and over the years, I've added some stuff to further enhance the flavours....like the konbu, kao man gai sauce and saffron. Hope to share a bit of Singaporean food with everyone here. By all means, adjust the quantities of everything here to your taste....I seldom measure when cooking this, just a bit of this and that. All measurements here are approximate when given.

Anyway, if any of you have been to Singapore, you will be familiar, hopefully, with Hainanese Chicken Rice. Its a Singaporean dish created by Hainanese people (From the Hainan province in China) when they emigrated to Singapore.

Its a long long recipe for description, but reveals the secrets of Hainanese chicken rice. Its really very easy. Also, most of the techniques and ingredients have been run through a mate of mine, whose family runs Loy Kee, one of the best and largest Hainanese chicken rice stores in Singapore.

Components of Dish:

(a) Boiled Chicken

(b) Chicken Rice

© Sauces

(d) Soup

For the Chicken

(1) 1 large whole chicken, with head, feet, etc..etc...

(2) 1 Large knob of ginger

(3) 4 cloves of garlic

(4) 1 bunch of Pandanus leaves (Might be hard to find if you are not in Asia!)

(5) 1 piece of konbu

(6) Ice for preparing an ice water bath

(7) Tomatoes, cilantro and cucumbers

(8) Kikkoman naturally brewed soy sauce (Other brands may taste wierd)

(9) Fragrant sesame oil (Chee Seng brand is the best)

- Set a large pot with enough water to cover, thow in the chicken's head and feet as well as the tied up pandanus leaves

- Wash the rice properly and leave in colander to strain all water

- Rub the chicken inside and outside generously with salt, then rinse it away with water

- Cut away large flaps of fat around the cavity above the bishop's nose and around the neck. Place fat into a small pan and cook gently over a small fire to extract the chicken oil for use with the rice

- Peel garlic, peel and slice ginger into the size of your country's coins! Shove into chicken's cavity

- When water has come to a boil, put the chicken breast down into the water

- Add the konbu (The konbu contains natural MSG, which brings out the flavour of the chicken)

- Cook the chicken uncovered on medium heat for 20 mins

- After 20 mins, switch off the heat and steep the chicken in the hot water for a further 20 - 30 mins

- Use a meat thermometer and poke it into the thigh to make sure its just cooked.

- The meat in the thigh has to be slightly pink.

- The gentle cooking in the hot water prevents the chicken proteins from contracting too much and toughening due to high heat, thereby preserving a juicy and smooth texture. Thank Howard McGhee for that explanation.

- Prepare the ice water bath in a pot large enough to submerge the whole chicken

- Dump the hot chicken into the cold water to immediately stop the cooking process. Leave it there till its cool.

- When chicken is cool, debone it a la Martin Yan, I usually chop up the backbone and serve along....if you don't want to, make sure to dig out the meat, especially the 'oysters'.

- Slice cucumbers, tomatoes

- Arrange everything on a plate, drizzle sesame oil over chicken...be generous

- Drizzle soy sauce over chicken....be generous too!

For the Chicken Saffron Rice:

(1)1 large knob Ginger

(2) 1 large head Garlic

(3) Long grain jasmine rice (Amount up to your requirements), washed and left to drip dry on a colander at least 30 mins

(4) Pinch of saffron or more........as I get Iranian saffron for cheap.....I put 2 pinches :cool:

(5) 1 piece of konbu

(6) Salt

(7) Broth from cooking chicken

(8) Rendered chicken fat

(9) 1 bunch of pandanus leaves

- Finely mince ginger and garlic....use more if you like. I use ALOT.

- In a hot hot wok, put in the chicken fat + some veg oil if not enough

- Fry ginger and garlic till fragrant but not browned, throw in raw, washed rice and toss well

- Salt to taste

- Fry rice till its dry and whitish. This extended frying of raw rice ensures that when its cooked, it absorbs the maximum amount of stock possible

- Put rice into a rice cooker, ladel in stock till the appropriate level...and add 3 to 4 tbs more to compensate for the extra dryness of the rice

- Tie up the pandanus leaves, throw it into the rice cooker along with the konbu and saffron

- When rice is cooked, remove konbu and pandanus, fluff the rice

For the chilli dipping sauce:

(11) 6 Fresh Chillies, preferably bird's eye

(12) Juice of 8 Limes

(13) 1 clove of garlic

(14) 1 knob of ginger, sliced

(15) Sugar to taste

(16) Salt to taste

- Blend everything togather

For the Garlic/Ginger/Spring Onion sauce:

(1) 5 cloves garlic, peeled

(2) 1 knob ginger, peeled

(3) 1 bunch spring onions

(5) Salt to taste

(6) A few tbs of veg oil

- Blend everything togather

Thai Kao Man Gai Sauce:

(1) 10 Birds eye chillies, chopped up with seeds

(2) 6 cloves garlic, minced

(3) 1 knob ginger, minced

(4) Ground bean sauce (Dtao jiu)

(5) Stock from chicken

These soybeans (Dtao jiu) are sold in a bottle and the best one for this Thai style sauce is this one http://importfood.com/sakh2103.html

- Combine the garlic, chilli and ginger togather

- Add bean sauce to taste (Its salty so add a bit at a time!)

- Add chicken stock sparingly to dilute and add flavour

- The sauce consistency should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, be slightly salty, but not overtly so.

For the Chicken Broth Soup

(1) Chinese cabbage (Napa Cabbage or Wong Bok)

(2) Daikon or Great White Radish

(3) Pre boiled chicken feet (My favourite!!!!)

(4) A few tbs of chinese wolfberries

(5) Chicken livers (Another favourite!)

(6) Chinese hairy melon

(7) Chinese dried mussels (If you like the flavour )

(8) Thinly sliced lotus roots

(9) The rest of the stock

(10) 1 to 2 tbs of Japanese MSG-free dashi powder (Dashi no moto). This adds a further dimension of flavour that I really love.

(11) Salt and pepper to taste

- Boil everything togather till its cooked, add water if necessary, salt and pepper to taste

To Serve

- Plate rice, garnish with cilantro

- Divide sauces into small chinese sauce bowls

- Dish soup individually

- Place chicken in the centre of table.....everyone uses chopsticks to eat it chinese style

If you guys aren't used to sharing the main dishes with chopsticks....just serve individually.

Thanks for reading this far, its a long recipe but easy to make and utterly delicious. Just wanted to share a recipe with everyone here and hope you all go try it and enjoy it like I have.


  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Thank you for allowing us all to share your adaptation of one of my favorite "Chicken Dish's".

Everything you've done seems to have come from your heart and I look forward to enjoying adapting your recipe with all it's subtleties to serve to my family.

Is there any proprietary name for "Konbu" that may be available in the United States ? "Kao Man Gai Sauce" is sold locally, I will check for the brand you recommended.

Thanks again,


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for allowing us all to share your adaptation of one of my favorite "Chicken Dish's".

Everything you've done seems to have come from your heart and I look forward to enjoying adapting your recipe with all it's subtleties to serve to my family.

Is there any proprietary name for "Konbu" that may be available in the United States ? "Kao Man Gai Sauce" is sold locally, I will check for the brand you recommended.

Thanks again,


Hi Irwin,

Konbu is simply the giant kelp seaweed used by the Japanese for making their soup stock. As for the Kao Man Gai sauce, if its made in Thailand......its good, coz my mate's family produces it. They also produce an organic version. It was first exported into L.A. where there are lots of Thais, and just spread like wildfire in the States.

Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Thanks for sharing this recipe. As a Malaysian I'm a fan of chicken rice and I'll be sure to try out your recipe.

It's good to also encounter you over at Knifeforums.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting this! I love Hainan Chicken Rice and I've been trying to make this dish at home, and it never turns out quite as good as the restaurant versions I've had. I really appreciate you putting this out there for the rest of the world to use.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

btw for next week, HCR will be on the menu, but knowing me there will be a twist. all that I ask is for people to keep an open mind.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is an informative post from the Dinner topic on this dish.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nick, interesting twist on HCR with the Konbu and Dashi stock. I must admit I don't use either ... but will try that next time. The rest of your ingredients sounds pretty traditional though.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dinner tonight was "modernist" Hainanese Chicken Rice :) These were the steps:


The stock was made by first chopping a "boiler chicken" (a retired egg laying hen) into pieces, then bringing to the boil to purge the scum. The chicken pieces were then rinsed and put into 6L of water, to which was added 8 cabbage leaves, 100gm ginger, 25gm goji berries, and 2 konbu leaves (thanks Nick for the idea). It was boiled for an hour.


Borrowing an idea from Modernist Cuisine at Home, I calculated 15% the weight of the chicken then weighed out the chicken stock. I added 3% the weight of the brine in salt, then injected it into the chicken. Because I was in a hurry for dinner, I could only let the chicken rest for an hour to equilibrate. Ideally I would leave it for a few hours.


I then cooked the chicken sous-vide at 62C for 90 minutes. A length of twine tied through the cavity of the chicken makes it easier to fish it out of the stock. It was then rubbed in sesame oil.


Carving the chicken.


Injection brining and careful sous-vide ensured that the meat was just cooked and incredibly tender.


Side of stir-fried choy sum.


Plated. The rice was made by frying the rinsed rice in chicken fat and garlic prior to cooking in chicken stock with some pandan. It was beautifully soft and fragrant.

Edited by Keith_W (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

cooked the chicken sous-vide at 62C for 90 minutes

I gather based on the string that the chicken was poached in stock at the constant 62 using a PID controller for maintaining that temp?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's right, rotuts.

Nice thread.

Keith, what is your heat source? How do you tie it in to the PID controller? (I assume the pot of stock sat on your heat source and the chicken-with-the-string was simply placed into the stock)

(BTW I did see your comment on the dinner thread before it was removed. Thanks.)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

also, what did you use to agitate the water?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

My sous-vide setup is a Sous-Vide at Home PID controller (similar to sous-vide magic) controlling a Breville Hot Plate. On top of this I lay my giant stock pot. What do I do to agitate the water? Every 10 minutes (or when I remember), I go up to the chicken, grab the strings, and dunk it up and down in the water. Primitive, but it works!

Edited by Keith_W (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great idea on the twine. I'll use that when I pressure cook chicken for soup or chili. I don't have a SV big enough for a whole chicken. Do you think pressure cooking or SV off the bone would work ok?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Haresfur I don't think that pressure cooking is a good solution. It will massively overcook the chicken and extract too much chicken flavour out of the chicken and into the stock. SV off the bone is OK, I have done this a few times.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I've cooked chicken sous vide multiple times and by pressure cooker exactly once. A pressure cooker is great for many things (beets, anyone?) but pressure-cooked chicken tastes institutional.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Keith_W: Will have to try your simmering-liquid with the wolfberries next time. I have a berry bush at our farm location. It's about 35 years old and still produces even though neglected. The berries are very sweet and flavourful, so may add another dimension to the broth.

Your HCR looks great!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Brilliant! I can't even remember starting this post in 2006 and glad to see everyone's taking their own spin on things. Whilst working in Europe, various chooks like the Poulet de Bresse and heritage English breeds got the HCR treatment for family meals and they were more delicious than what I can conjure up here in Asia.

Every HCR in my country has the same taste profile because the chooks all come from the same source and are battery bred to conformity. Its still a great HCR though but it gets bland after eating it for 3 decades!

It would be great if any of you with access to heritage breeds can post your HCR experiences. There is nothing special indeed about the HCR recipes because it all starts from the chicken!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      I have just returned home to China from an almost two week trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. To get there I first travelled by train to the provincial capital, Nanning. The local airport only does domestic flights, whereas there are direct flights from Nanning. The flight time required that I stay overnight at the Aviation Hotel in Nanning, from which there is a regular direct bus to the airport.
      The trip to Nanning is about an hour and a half and passes through some nice karst scenery.
      After booking into the hotel, I set off for my favourite Nanning eating destination. Zhongshan Night market is a well known spot and very popular with the locals. I had forgotten that it was a local holiday - the place is always busy, but that night it was exceptionally so.


      It consists of one long street with hundreds of stalls and is basically a seafood market, although there are a few stalls selling alternatives.














      Filled myself with seafood (and some of that blood sausage above), slept soundly and, next morning, flew to Ho Chi Minh City.


      The rest of my trip can be seen here:
    • By Lisa Shock
      Years ago, when I visited Tokyo, I ate in a small but fascinating restaurant called 'It's Vegetable' which is now, unfortunately, closed. The chef was from Taiwan, and he made Buddhist vegetarian and vegan dishes that resembled meat. During my visit, several monks wearing robes stopped in to eat dinner. The dishes were pretty amazing. I understood some of them, like using seitan to mimic chicken in stir fry dishes, others used tofu products like yuba, but, others were complex and obviously difficult. One very notable dish we enjoyed was a large 'fish' fillet designed to serve several people. It had a 'skin' made of carefully layered 'scales' cut from nori and attached to the surface. Inside, the white 'flesh' flaked and tasted much like a mild fish. Anyway, apparently Buddhist fake meat meals are very popular in Taiwan and many places, cheap through to fine dining serve them. Yes, if I worked on it for a while, I could probably refine one or two dishes on my own, but, I am wondering if there's a Modernist Cuisine type cookbook for skillfully making these mock meats from scratch? (I have heard that some items are commercially made and available frozen there, much like soy-based burgers are in the US.) I am willing to try almost any offering, even if it's entirely in Chinese. And, I know how to use remailers to purchase regional items from the various local retailers worldwide who do not ship to the US.
    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and lead us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.


      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
      Then into lunch:


      Chicken Soup

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.

      Stir fried lotus root

      Daikon Radish

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable

      Fried Beans

      Steamed Pumpkin


      Beef with Bitter Melon

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice


      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known  for the quality of its pomelos.
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.




      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.

      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.

      And here they are:
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
    • By liuzhou
      Today is 元宵 yuán xiāo, the Lantern Festival marking the 15th day of the first lunar month and the last day of the Spring Festival (春节 chūn jié) which begins with the Chinese New Year on the 1st of the lunar month.
      Today is the day for eating 汤圆 tāng yuán, sweet glutinous rice balls.
      I was invited to take part in a celebration ceremony this morning in what is considered to be the city's most beautiful park. I half agree. It lies in the south of the city, surrounded by karst hill formations, but for me, the park itself is over-manicured. I like a bit of wild. That said, there are said to be around 700 species of wildlife, but most of that is on the inaccessible hills. There are pony rides for the kids and some of the locals are a bit on the wild side.

      Park Entrance

      Karst Hill
      Although the park has beautiful flower displays and great trees, what I love most is the bamboo. Such a beautiful plant and so useful.

      They had also hung the traditional red lanterns on some of the trees.

      The main reason for us to be there was to be entertained by, at first, these three young men who bizarrely welcomed us with  a rendition of Auld Lang Syne played on their bamboo wind instruments - I forget what they are called. They are wearing the traditional dress of the local Zhuang ethnic minority.

      Then some local school kids sang for us and did a short play in English. Clap, clap, clap.
      Then on to the main event. We were asked to form groups around one of four tables looking like this.

      Appetising, huh? What we have here at top is a dough made from glutinous rice flour. Then below black sesame paste and ground peanut paste. We are about to learn to make Tangyuan, glutinous rice balls. Basically you take a lump of dough, roll it into a ball, then flatten it, then form a cup shape. add some of each or either of the two pastes and reform the ball to enclose the filling. Simple! Maybe not.

      Some of us were more successful than others

      These are supposed to be white, but you can see the filling - not good; its like having egg showing all over the outside of your scotch eggs.
      Modesty Shame prevents me telling you which were mine.

      At least one person seemed to think bigger is better! No! They are meant to be about an inch in diameter. Sometimes size does matter!
      Finally the balls we had made were taken away to be boiled in the park's on-site restaurant. What we were served were identically sized balls with no filling showing. They are served in this sweet ginger soup. The local pigs probably had ours for lunch.


      The orange-ish and purplish looking ones are made in the same way, but using red and black glutinous rice instead.
      Fun was had, which was the whole point.
    • By liuzhou
      Today is 小年 (xiǎo nián) which literally means 'little [new] year', but is something more. It takes place approximately a week before Chinese New Year (February 16th this time round - Year of the Dog) and is the festival for the Kitchen God
      In traditional animist Chinese thought, there is a god for everything and the kitchen god is responsible for all aspects of, you guessed, the kitchen. Once a year (today), the kitchen god pops back  to report to the god of heaven on the happenings of the last 12 months. Therefore we have to placate him so he makes a good report.  My neighbours are busy preparing offerings of sticky rice and assorted sugary confections for the god, so that when he eats them, his teeth and lips will stick together and he will be unable to report any bad behaviour. An alternative theory suggest the sugary stuff will sweeten his words. Then we'll be OK for another year!
      This is  the fellow

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.