Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hainanese Chicken Rice 海南鸡飯

I always view from local TV programmes with foreign visitors saying that eating Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice  (海南鸡飯) is a must when they visit Singapore. I really had no idea why. Singapore being a Food (and Shopping) Paradise had plenty of other dishes to offer. Check out Singapore Food Festival 2007 which is on from 29 June to 31 July 2007.

To my foreign readers ... if you do love this dish, you can do it on your own. Next time, when you visit Singapore, do try other dishes, okay?

Ingredients for Chicken:
  • 1 Chicken, preferably Kampong Chicken
  • 8 clove Garlic, lightly smashed with skin intact
  • 5 slices Ginger
  • 1 - 2 teaspoon Salt
  • Water
How to do it:
  1. Stuff garlic and ginger in chicken and seal with toothpick.
  2. Blanch chicken.
  3. Boil a pot of water and add salt.
  4. Simmer the chicken for about 20 - 25 minutes or till cooked.
  5. Retain broth for use on rice, chilli sauce and soup.
  6. Plunge chicken in ice water for about 15 minutes or till chicken is no longer hot.
  7. Remove from water and drip dry.
  8. Cut chicken into pieces.
Ingredients for Rice:
  • 3 cup Long Grain Rice,
  • Broth from cooking chicken
  • 4 slices Ginger
  • 5 glove Garlic, lightly smashed with skin intact
  • 8 Pandan leaves, tied in a knot
  • Salt to taste
How to do it:
  1. In a wok, add 2 teaspoon oil, preferably oil from frying chicken skin or the congealed fats you get when you refrigerate your chicken broth. Otherwise, vegetable oil is fine.
  2. Saute ginger and garlic till fragrant.
  3. Add in washed rice and saute till rice is coated well with the oil.
  4. Add salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon is enough).
  5. Stir to mix well.
  6. Pour rice with ginger and garlic to your rice cooker.
  7. Add in broth from chicken you cooked earlier instead of your usual water.
  8. Add in the pandan leaves.
  9. Let your rice cooker do the cooking. ;)

A bowl of soup is always served with a plate of Chicken Rice. Just in case, you get choked for eating too fast. Hehehe ...

To make broth more tasty, return the bones from the chicken to broth and continue simmering for another hour. Retain 5 tablespoon of the broth for the Chilli Sauce.

Add salt to taste. Add some shredded lettuce in a bowl and pour soup over it. Serve with the Chicken Rice.

How can you eat Chicken Rice without the Chicken Rice Chilli?!! You are missing one of the essences of eating Chicken Rice! Well, unless you are like me. I'm one of the rare breed of Singaporeans who can't take spicy food. Then again, I do still take some, followed by plenty of water.

  • 3 Chillies, top and seeds removed
  • 1 slice Ginger
  • 4 glove Garlic, skin removed
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 5 tablespoon of chicken broth
How to do it:
  1. Blend all ingredients together, till smooth.
  2. That's all!
  • Add more chilli if you prefer it to be more spicy.
  • Add less broth if you prefer it to be thicker.

Check out my next post on my Ginger Sauce.
Click HERE for the Roasted version of the Chicken Rice (烧鸡饭).


  1. I saw this on Tastespotting! And I believe I know you from OSF! :) Great recipe!!!

  2. IconSam,
    Oh yes! That's right! We 'met' in OSF!


  3. hi wokking mum, put me to shame..: P

    Becos as a Hainanese, i have not cook this HCR before...always eating daddy's home-cooked HCR.

    I must make it a point to try cooking it one fine day...hee : )

    Thanks for sharing our ever famous recipe.


  4. Astee,
    No lah. That's bcos you have someone to cook it for you mah. I dont and want to eat so I got to learn to cook it myself ;)

    If you do it, it will be really nice since you are a Hainanese ;)

  5. Hi, wanted to cook HCR tom, so search net and guess what ! I found your link from wikipedia ! I love all your recipe, spent last 3 hrs browsing it !! I am working overseas .. so miss some of these Singapore food ! Now I am having headache on making the chilli sauce ... very difficult to find fresh chilli in Japan .. I have some chilli padi my mum brought over 2 mths ago ..(of cos I freezed it) .... maybe combine chilli padi and dry chilli !! haha ..

  6. Hi! Thanks for visiting.
    My recipe in Wikipedia? I'll go have a look. ;)
    Wow, you spend 3 hours to look thru all my recipes here. What an honour. Hope you are able to find some recipes you miss.

    Adding chilli padi with dry chilli? I didnt think of that. Hey, it may be nice. You never know. Why dont you get some of the seeds from both the chilli padi and dried chilli and try to plant them? You may just grow your own chilli plant!

    Hope you have a wokking good time with the chicken rice tomorrow!

  7. Hi, I made the HCR !!! After going to 3 supermarkets, 2 local veg stores, I still couldn't find fresh chilli. Instead, I use about 5 chilli padi .. result was a little watery but still very hot !! My BF loves it !! kept saying Oishi !! He even say better than his mama chilli sauce haha ! thks for the recipe. Think is too late for this summer to plant chilli here, I did that last year, and still have left over dried chilli ! Will try it next year, or just ask friend to bring more chilli over !!

  8. Wow! Glad to know it was a success. Your BF must be looking forward to the next feast now! I'm looking forward to hear abt your next cooking! :D

  9. hi there! thanks for your HCR recipe. at last i can cook it in my own kitchen in my own country. me and my family lived in singapore and my kids just couln't forget the dishes they used to eat in there. i would be very glad if you can share me more recipes of singaporean food like beef kway teow, fried kway teow. kway chap but most of all how i can do the noodles myself because for sure i cant't find it in here. thanks a lot wokking mum!

  10. hi there! thanks for you HCR recipe over wikepedia. at last now i can cook it in my own kitchen in my own country. me and my family lived in singapore and my kids just couldn't forget what they used to eat in there. i would be very glad if you can share me more recipes of singaporean dishes like beef kway teow, fried kway teow and kway chap but most of all if you can teach me how to do the noodles because for sure i won't find it in here. thanks a lot wokking mum!

  11. Anonymous,
    Thanks. Glad you can now make HCR. Dont have to miss it so much now. ;)

    I'll try to do some local dish. My kids are not fans of local dishes that why I seldom cook it.

    Noodles? Do you mean those yellow noodles? I have tried making egg noodles once. Hopefully I can still remember but I not sure about those yellow ones.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I couldn't cut and paste this recipe to Word to print it out without all the extra...stuff. Why don't you allow right-clicking, wokkingmum?

    Anyways, I got around it by disabling the javascript on my browser.

  14. Love the recipe! Found you through Wikipedia, also from Googling. I've made this 3 times now, with some substitute (no kampoeng chicken, fresh chili nor pandan leaves available on a whim) - so I used griller chicken, frozen chilis and no pandan leaves, but substitute with lemon grass. Very tasty. Thanks!

  15. Ricardo,
    Sorry I had to do this. Not everybody knows how to get around it. You see, when I was using Wordpress, someone duplicated all my posts to his/her site. I didn't like it and he/she wouldnt take my post down.

    I dont mind sharing my stuff but what that site did was duplicating all the various blogs and have it in their site. My guess was they dont have content, so they were not able to earn thru ads. Plus they are probably to lazy to build their own site by writing their own stuff. I didn't like that at all.

    Anyway, after moving here. I didn't have that problem. Either, these site prefers Wordpress blog or they didn't know how to get around the J/S like you did.

    But if you have noticed, I have added a link to a printer-friendly version for my recipes from July 2007 onwards, so it's easier for those who wants to print out the recipe. :)

  16. Taikotari,
    Thanks for visiting!
    Using lemongrass! Oh, I can imagine the aroma!

  17. Perfect. The chicken is in ice water and the rice is cooking as I write this. I just enjoyed a bowl of soup, which was just a bit light, but tasty.

    Chicken rice is my favorite Singaporean dish, and I have it frequently here in North America (I'm from San Francisco, but temporarily living in Vancouver, Canada at the moment). It's never quite so good over here -- the chicken is usually a bit dry and flavorless.

    I found a place here in Vancouver that has some really good chicken rice that is very similar to what can be found in S'pore. It's at a restaurant called Prima Taste, which I believe is a Singaporean chain. Unfortunately, it's $10 for an order (USD or CAD, same thing)!!! I'd still prefer the $3 SGD chicken rice one can get at a hawker center in S'pore any day.

    By the way, how does one make the soy sauce based dipping sauce for chicken rice? It's like a dark, sweetened soy sauce, but I haven't a clue how to make it.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  18. Aburitoro,
    You like Chicken Rice! Hope my verison can satisfy your tastebuds. :)

    Yes, Prima Taste is from Singapore. In fact they have instant Chicken Rice Mix and many other instant mix on other favourite Singapore dishes. If you happen to visit Singapore again, you can try to get a few to try. :)

    Oh $10 for a plate of chicken rice?! I think we better stop complaining about it being expensive here. LOL

    That dark sauce is usually a good quality dark soy sauce. Those cheaper sauce are usually more salty. Premium Dark Soy Sauce has a slight sweet hint.

    Oh, I've forgotton to add in the sauce that is drizzle over the plate of chopped chicken. Try adding this the next time ...

    4 part stock, 1 part sesame seed oil, 3/4 part light soy sauce & 1/4 part oyster sauce.

  19. The chicken rice was great. I did overcook it just a bit, so the breast was just a little dry. Nothing a little extra sauce didn't fix :-)

    Someone here told me that there is a Chinese supermarket that sells Prima Taste products, so I'll have to go take look. While I'm there, I'll also look for some good, dark soy sauce.

    I didn't realize that the dark soy sauce is just that. I assumed that it was mixed with something else, since it was saltier everytime I've had it (I guess it was the cheap version!).

    I made my own "dark" soy sauce by adding sugar to Japanese soy sauce and heating it up a bit until it reduced a bit. Definitely not the same, but it was better than nothing.

    I also didn't have any fresh chilles, so I substitued sriracha hot sauce in its place. It was pretty good, but next time, I'll try it with fresh chiles.

    The ginger was good, but the sesame oil overpowered it a bit, so I used half sesame oil and half canola oil to tone it down.

    I had lots of broth left over so I froze it. Next time, I think I might use some of it to start the rice earlier so that it'll be done when the chicken is done. And I'll use the rest of it (with additional water) to cook the chicken in, to make a richer broth.

    Thanks a lot. It was a very hassle free dinner, and I will make it again in a few weeks.

  20. Aburitoro,
    Hope you will be able to get the Prima Taste products but making your own is still the best. At least there is not MSG and your family will definately appreciate the effort you put it. :)

  21. wow the chicken rice looks good! :)

  22. Hi Wokking mum, juz wanna say a big thank you for sharing this a Singaporean living in Europe & i do miss my Chicken Rice every now & then ... i hope i will get to try out yr recipe by this week ;o) ... In Germany, we say Vielen Dank ..which means thank u v much ;-D ...Cheers

  23. Almost an Angel,
    Aw, I understand. I wont have survive overseas. I'll miss my Char Kueh Tiow and Chai Tau Kueh. :P

    Hope you will like it. And you are very welcome.

  24. I have searched long and hard for a very good chicken rice recipe and I must say that this recipe is very easy and incredible! My family totally enjoyed the dish, especially my 16 month old who couldn't get enough rice. I didn't serve the broth, but instead saved it along with any bits and pieces from the whole chicken and 4 breasts on the bone and made more rice. Excellent! I didn;t use fresh Pandan leaves, as all I could fine was the canned extract, but it worked well (although the fresh leave must be much better). The Pandan gives the rice a nice frangrance and taste, which the boyfriend of my daughter said reminded him of coconut milk, minus the milk.
    Defenitely will add this recipe to our weekly menu! Thanks!

  25. Regie P,
    Glad to hear that you and your family enjoy it.

  26. hey wokkingmum, am wondering if you have a recipe for the roast chicken version? searched high and low and like one of the other commenters, ended up here via wikipedia... am hoping you'd be able to help me with this one. my boyfriend, for some odd reason, doesn't quite like blanched chicken. :(

  27. Anonymous,
    I have some ideas on how it's done but can't confirm if it's correct cos my MIL who sold chicken rice before just told me about it vaguely.

    Let me try to cajole my MIL for the recipe during CNY. :)

    Be patience for this recipe. ;)

  28. Hi Wokkingmum

    Thanks for your recipe which gave me a real crave for chicken rice. Unfortunately i cant find any pandan leaves in Perth. Is there any replacement for pandan? rather is it ok i dont put any pandan leaves?


  29. Hi WokkingMum

    Your recipe sounds great!! I'm going to give it a try. I don't think I'l be able to get a hold of any Pandan leaves here in Canada British Columbia, is there anything I could use to replace it? What does it smell and taste like? My boyfriend is from Singapore and he loves and misses this dish. I want to make it taste just like back home. Thanks :)

  30. TrishS,
    Hmmm ... how do I describe the smell. It smells like good smelling grass :P Okay! I'm bad with this. Sorry. It's a light, slightly sweet smelling. It doesn't taste much when used here for the rice. It's used here more for the fragrant.

    I doubt there's any other you can replace it cos that's just what Hainanese Chicken Rice is.

    But you can try lemongrass if you can get it. Although, it smells totally different from pandan leaves, it also make the rice fragrant.

    I'm sure your boyfriend will like it whichever ingredient you can use.

  31. Hi Learner!
    I doubt we can ever get a replacement for pandan leaves. You can leave it out. It wont affect the taste. It's just that you won't have the lovely fragrant you. :)

  32. Hi Wokking Mum,

    i follow your recipe ytd instead of my own plain recipe. My boy enjoys the chicken very much.

    Happy to found your recipe !

    Thanks alot!

  33. Thanks I really look forward to trying this recipe tonight.

  34. HALO...i am using your recipe as my math project !!! hope that i get 1st !!! without this website, i don't know what to do with my project ! so thanks ! :D

  35. Hi WokkingMum,

    I have been wanting to learn how to make chicken rice, but have usually found the recipes too complicated or troublesome.

    However, when I saw your simple recipe, I decided to give it a try, and wow, it tasted really good. Even my friend thought it was pretty authentic. ( I could not find pandan leaves here) Just so you know, I barely cook, so I was surprised that this dish turned out so well.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I'm going to start looking through your other recipes as well to see what else I can try out. :)

  36. Hi WokkingMum!
    :) I wish I came across your recipe earlier! I tried following a friend´s recipe and was quite disappointed twice, because the taste somehow didn´t come out the way it should. It just felt like it was lacking know not like the hawker centre type.

    I realized that I chopped the garlic into very small pieces and the ginger too, because that´s what I usually do and thought that the taste would be stronger. I noticed for your recipe, you leave the garlic as cloves....does that make a difference to the taste of the chicken rice?

    Do you add any additional salt besides the 1 tsp when you fry the rice? I find that the taste of the rice is somehow not there yet....geez...didn´t think it would be so difficult.

  37. The chili recipe abit it suppose to be like that?

  38. Thank you everyone for the comments.

    Pris, I prefer to not to chop up the garlic and the ginger to the chicken because I want them to slow release the flavour. If you chop it up the flavour will release to fast for the chicken to absorb. It will goes all the the broth.

    For the rice, we dont want it to be over powering. The garlic and ginger is to help bring out the aroma of the chicken ric plus the other reason is you wont be able to pick you all the mince garlic & ginger.

    No, I dont add additional salt but I drizzle a mixture of chicken broth, light soy sauce & sesame seed oil on the rice and/or chicken when I serve. Those you see in hawker centre use chicken cubes/powder to cook. That could be reason why you find it not salty enough. I would suggest you get additional chicken bone to make your broth more flavourful to cook your rice.

    Anonymous, yes, it's raw. If you cook it, it will become (almost) sambal chilli. ;)

  39. Hi, I tried out your recipe (only the rice part) yesterday and I must say I am getting quite close. The only thing was missing is the Pandan Leaves and it is world apart. I knew Pandan Leaves is crucial to make a good HCR.

    Other point to note is that I was unable to make the rice appear 'yellowish oily ' like the outside commercial ones. My rice is more 'dull' or dry in color.

    Good work!
    Sathip (Thailand)

  40. Hi, how exactly do we blanch the chicken before simmering it for 20-25 minutes? Thanks!

  41. must say this is by far the best recipe, cos my children just love it so much. thanls for sharing!

  42. Hi,

    Is it possible not to use a whole chicken? I live with only one other person so we can't finish that much.