Hainanese chicken rice 海南雞飯

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I tend to like my food boiling hot.  When I host a dinner party, one of my main concerns is that the food will get cold by the time everyone is present to eat.  Besides dishes that are meant to be eaten cold (like salads), there are few things that I truly enjoy that aren’t boiling hot when I eat it.  Hainanese chicken is one of those dishes.  The cooking style of Hainan cuisine is lighter with milder seasonings and less oily.  Although this Hainanese chicken rice dish is also popular in Singapore and Thailand with their own variations, it is a dish best served when the chicken has cooled briefly.

The control of heat is especially important when boiling chicken.  You want to bring the water to a boil and immerse the whole chicken, remembering to pour boiling water into the cavity as well to ensure that the chicken is cooked both on the inside and outside.  Then remove the chicken and immerse in ice water to ensure that the meat stays tender while the skin remains smooth.

Pandan leaves are available from Asian grocery stores, stored frozen in plastic freezer bags.  Daun pandan is the Malaysian and Indonesian name, but it is also known as screwpine leaf.  It is commonly used as a distinct flavoring or as a wrap in Southeast Asian meat or rice dishes.  Pandan leaves also enhance the flavor of seasoned rice and curries, adding a distinct floral-like taste.  The leaves are then chopped into pieces large enough to remove from a dish after cooking.  Nasi lemak, nasi kuning, and nasi padang are some of the fragrant pandan-flavored rices eaten in Malaysia and Indonesia. It pairs well with coconut milk, glutinous rice, lemongrass, milk, brown sugar, and turmeric.

My husband loves Hainanese chicken rice.  It’s one of his guilty pleasures when we dine out at local Chinese restaurants.  It’s a guilty pleasure because the chicken flavored rice is usually so oily from the chicken fat.  I have reduced the oiliness in my chicken rice recipe without compromising the flavor, since I added a good balance of ginger, garlic, chicken powder, and pandan leaves.  It turned out to be home-cooked goodness, with the familiar Hainan taste.

Hainanese chicken rice

Grocery list

1 chicken (about 2 kg), preferably with the feet and head
20 g ginger
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 pandan or screwpine leaves, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tsp salt
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp light soy sauce
Handful bean sprouts
Handful cucumber slices
2 sprigs fresh coriander (for garnish)

Chicken flavored rice
2 cups jasmine rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
20 g ginger, smashed
5 g chicken fat
2 pandan or screwpine leaves, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp salt
1 tsp chicken powder (Knorr brand works well)

Chili Sauce
50 g chili padi or Bird’s eye chili, finely chopped (小辣椒)
50 g red chili pepper, finely chopped (紅辣椒)
25 g ginger, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
70 ml lime juice
50 ml white vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt



雞 1 隻 (2 公斤)
薑 20 克 (拍扁)
蒜頭 5 粒 (拍扁)
班蘭葉 2 片
鹽 3 茶匙
麻油 2 茶匙
生抽 1 茶匙
豆芽 (適量)
青瓜片 (適量)


米 2 杯
油 2 湯匙
蒜頭 4 粒 (切碎)
薑 20 克 (拍扁)
雞油 5 克
班蘭葉 2 片 (切碎)
鹽 2 茶匙
雞粉 1 茶匙


小辣椒 50 克
紅辣椒 50 克
薑 25 克 (切碎)
蒜頭 10 粒 (拍扁)
青檸汁 70 毫升
白醋 50 毫升
糖 1 茶匙


Rinse chicken inside and out, and drain away excess water.  Rub the skin generously with salt.  Course sea salt works very well for flavoring.  Stuff the chicken body cavity with the 20 g ginger, 5 cloves garlic, and 2 pandan leaves.  Use a toothpick to seal the skin.

Hainanese chicken rice  Hainanese chicken rice  Hainanese chicken rice  Hainanese chicken rice

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high, enough to fully immerse the chicken.  Add 3 tsp salt to the boiling water and immerse the chicken into the water.  Bring the water to a boil again, and then reduce the heat to medium to cook for another 20 minutes, uncovered.

Hainanese chicken rice

Turn off the heat, cover and allow the chicken to seep in the water for 25 minutes.  Lift the chicken from the pot, reserving the hot water.  Chop off the head at the base of the neck and the feet.  Return the neck and feet to the hot water, cover and boil into a chicken soup (approx 1 hour).

Make the chicken flavored rice:  Meanwhile rinse and soak the rice in cold water for 1 hour.  Drain well.  Heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet.  Fry the 4 cloves garlic, 20 g ginger, and chicken fat until fragrant.  Add 2 pandan leaves and fry until fragrant.

Hainanese chicken rice  Hainanese chicken rice  Hainanese chicken rice

Add the rice, 2 tsp salt, and chicken powder and mix to combine well.  Pour rice mixture into a rice cooker and add the appropriate amount of the chicken soup.  Flip the switch to the rice cooker and cook the rice as usual.

While the rice soaks in water, rinse the chicken briefly in cold water, and then rub well with the sesame oil and light soy sauce.  Blanch the bean sprouts in the hot water for 20 seconds.  Chop the chicken into pieces and arrange on a serving plate with the bean sprouts, cucumber and coriander.

Hainanese chicken rice

Make the chili sauce:  In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the chili sauce.  Serve on the side with the chicken.  You can reduce the amount of chilies for a less spicy sauce, or choose not to use the chilies at all.

Hainanese chicken rice

雞洗淨瀝乾, 塗抹適量鹽, 將薑, 蒜頭和班蘭葉塞入雞肚裹.

燒開一鍋水, 加入鹽, 將雞浸入沸水中 (水需蓋過雞身), 煮滾後改小火續煮 20 分鐘, 熄火, 再燜上 25 分鐘.  撈起雞, 保留湯.

雞飯米洗淨, 浸水 1 小時後, 瀝乾水分.  鍋中燒熱 1湯匙油, 加入蒜頭, 薑和雞油炒香, 再加入班蘭葉炒香, 加入米, 鹽和雞粉拌勻, 放入電鍋, 加入適量雞湯.  將米煮到熱透.

雞泡入冰水中, 取出後抹上麻油和生抽, 斬成塊, 排在盤中, 再放入豆芽, 青瓜. 

食用時, 可沾點辣椒醬.


Hainanese chicken rice



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9 Responses to Hainanese chicken rice 海南雞飯
  1. Amanda
    February 1, 2012 | 6:56 pm

    I tried this recipie and its delicious and not hard to cook at all. I was a little nervious at the beginning hoping the chicken cooked well, but it did and the spices gave it a unique flavor specially the screwpine leaves. Thank you.

    • Dr. Grace
      February 1, 2012 | 10:49 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the recipe! I appreciate your comment and hope you find more recipes on my cite to enjoy! I’m sure you are a great cook!

  2. Marcia
    February 5, 2012 | 5:55 pm

    Ginger, and chilli make such a great combination, this is such a delicious recipie is different, full of flavor and not hard at all.

    • Dr. Grace
      February 6, 2012 | 9:03 pm

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Donald
    February 8, 2012 | 7:11 pm

    I am new at cooking but the way you present the recipe makes it very easy for everybody to cook such delicious meals. Loved the chicken and specially the rice, i learned a lot by cooking this.

    • Dr. Grace
      February 8, 2012 | 9:27 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it; I’m always happy to hear that I have helped in any way!

  4. Sally
    February 10, 2012 | 6:18 pm

    Boiling the chicken with the leaves, ginger and garlic insides gives all the meat a lot of flavor, this is a nice recipie and easy to do, the chilli sauce is not that sipicy and goes perfectly with the rice.

  5. Shieny
    August 3, 2012 | 7:15 am

    Thanks for the recipe,very helpfull n easy to undestand,.perfect taste.my kids and husband like it very much.thanks a lot….

    • Dr. Grace
      August 4, 2012 | 5:13 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Shieny! I’m sure you husband and kids will love anything you make. :)

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