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Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice

19 posts in this topic

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.


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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,


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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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)

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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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?

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That's right, rotuts.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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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.)

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also, what did you use to agitate the water?

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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)

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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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?

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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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.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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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.

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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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!



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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!

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