Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of my favorite Malaysian / Southeast Asian dishes to make for friends and family. Originally from Hainan, Chinese immigrants brought the dish to Malaysia and Singapore and now we call it our own. In Malaysia, they are ridiculously cheap ($1.50 per plate) and are often mastered by a hawker vendor specializing in the dish for decades (or even generations).
I am by no means means a master but when I don’t have access to cheap generations-mastered chicken rice, I make my own chicken rice. I’m sharing my delicious chicken rice that satisfies your cravings and pleases a crowd can be really simple and best of all done at home without any special cooking tools.
Why I love making Hainanese Chicken Rice, and why I think you’ll love it to:
One, because it really has just a few ingredients (compared to the 20+ spices or sauce bottles I have to stock for other Asian dishes).
Two, because it’s quite a complete meal in itself: it has protein, carbs and we can easily add simple side of sliced raw cucumbers or blanched Bok Choy.
And three: it really is so simple to make. I’ve held chicken rice cooking classes over zoom during Covid quarantines in 2020 because ingredients were so simple to obtain for my friends.
My method of cooking chicken rice optimizes for speed through without compromising on flavor, presentation and simplicity:
- Parallel processing (you cook the rice while the chicken is cooking; you make the scallion sauce while the the chicken and the rice are cooking).
- cooking smaller parts (chicken pieces rather than the whole chicken)
The servings below serve a family or party of 4
For the Chicken:
- 1 whole chicken (around 1.5kg), or chicken parts
- 3 medium scallions
- salt (2-3 tbs, enough to rub chicken pieces)
- 1 tbs of sesame oil
For the rice:
- 1.5 cups long grain white rice (rinsed well)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3 medium scallions
- 1 inch ginger knob, sliced
For the ginger scallion sauce:
- 3 inch ginger knob, grated
- 5 medium scallion
- 3 tbs vegetable oil
- Pinch of salt
- Pat dry your chicken. I usually love cooking a whole chicken, but since we’re going for speed, I chose chicken pieces. You can pick all chicken thighs or breast meat, but I recommend buying chicken with skin on because not only is that the best part but you can also have all kinds of fun with it. Remove any excess skin, this will be useful in the next step.
- Rub or massage salt all over the skin to make it “smooth”.
- Fully immerse the chicken pieces in a pot of water and bring to medium boil. Then bring temperature down so that the water comes to a bare simmer. Remove the scum from the pot using a sift or spoon. This is important because you want to treat the chicken as delicate meat, not overcooking it through a harsh boil. This should take 10-15 minutes minutes, but you can also check using a thermometer, ensuring legs measure at 165°F (or 74°C).
- While the chicken is cooking, render some of the chicken fat from the skin. Once fat has been rendered, remove skin and keep aside.
- Stir in your 1-inch ginger , sliced over medium heat with the rendered fat for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add in your rice and mix well.
- Add 1.5 cups of chicken broth and then add it to a rice cooker. Or if you don’t have a rice cooker, you can cook it over the stove like how I am doing it here (see what I mean by minimal tools?)
- Bring pot to light boil and then to a bare simmer. Cover pot for 15 minutes. Turn off stove top by end of 30 minutes and remove ginger pieces.
This stuff is really addictive. Trust me, the chicken and the rice are core and main ingredients. But sometimes I think it’s the medium for which I can best enjoy this simple scallion sauce.
- While chicken and rice are cooking, grate 1 knob of ginger. Add thinly-chopped scallions (3 stalks)
- Heat up 2 tbs of vegetable oil to boiling point and pour over scallion / grated ginger and mix well.
Plating it all-together (more steps for chicken)
- Once chicken is cooked immerse in bowl of cold water with some ice for about 5 minutes
- While chicken is immersed, you can start plating your rice and side vegetables.
- Glaze chicken skin with some sesame oil. If needed, cut chicken to smaller pieces and arrange beautifully on your plate.
- The pot in which the chicken has been simmering in makes excellent broth / soup. Save and serve that with some chopped scallions.
Enjoy your delicious Hainanese chicken rice!