I’ve tried and loved Hainanese Chicken Rice in its many, many adaptations. Versions of Malaysian & Singaporean Hainanese Chicken Rice, for example, are commonly served with numerous sauces, like a yummy chill ginger sauce, sticky sweet soy sauce and spring onion, ginger sesame oil sauce.
But ah, I’m going to say it…my mum makes the best Hainanese Chicken Rice in the world, and I just can’t get enough of it! Ok fine, I might be biased, but you have to try it. Dad’s side is Hainanese and the original recipe was passed down by my grandma (Dad’s mum), hence why this dish is dear to our hearts. There’s just something incredible about eating a dish that originated from a place you are connected to.
My mum’s adaptation of my grandma’s original Hainanese recipe has a Vietnamese spin on it. Combining strong fish sauce, lime, ginger flavours, we really create a magical plate of joy. This is the version I like best because it’s what I grew up eating. I’m delighted to share this with you, it’s made with love.
WATCH VIDEO: if you’re more of a visual learner, watch me make it here!
Mum’s Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe
- Large stock pot
- Rice cooker or pot to cook rice in
- Mortar and pestle. If you don't have one, a blender is fine too. Highly recommend a M&P though!
- 1 whole Large chicken
- Chicken stock from poaching the chicken (i.e. no need to buy)
- 2-3 cups White jasmine rice
- Cucumber sliced, to serve
- Fish sauce
- Palm sugar (substitute: coconut sugar)
- 2 Limes
- 10cm Ginger
- 6 cloves garlic (one to stuff chicken with, some for sauce and some for chicken rice)
- Kaffir lime leaf/Pandan lime leaf
- Spring onion to garnish
- Coriander to garnish
- Ice used to cool chicken once boiled through
- Using lots of salt, rub (like you're exfoliating) the chicken. Rinse and wash under tap water.
- Stuff your chicken with some peeled ginger pieces.
- In a large stock pot with hot water, add the chicken (legs up, so the ginger doesn't fall out). Add 2-3 tablespoons of salt (this will season the chicken as it cooks). Bring to a boil, then turn to a medium-low heat for 45 minutes or until cooked through. The water should be steaming but not bubbling.
- Remove your chicken. Put it into a bowl of iced water for 10-15 minutes. This will stop the chicken from over cooking. Don't throw out the liquid! This is now yummy chicken stock we'll use to cook the rice in later.
- Note: if you don't have a mortar & pestle, you can use a blender instead.
- In a mortar & pestle (or blender), add 2 tablespoons of minced ginger and 2 tablespoons of minced garlic. Add a bit of red chilli, 2 bulbs of palm sugar. If you don't have palm sugar, substitute with 1.5 tablespoons of coconut sugar. Smash in an up & down motion until mushy.
- Add a dash of fish sauce and 3 limes (with the skin removed – the skin can make it bitter). If you're using a mortar & pestle, instead of smashing up & down, move your wrist around in a circular motion so it blends well.
- Taste & adjust! How is the level of sourness vs. sweetness? It should lean on the sweeter side i.e. if 'sour' is the leading taste, add more sugar. Add more salt or fish sauce for saltiness. Taste & adjust to your liking!
- Wash your rice and drain the water. Repeat 3-4 times until the water goes from cloudy to clear.
- In a large pan on medium-high heat, add oil, 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of minced ginger. Fry until brown. It should only take a few minutes. Keep an eye on it. Ensure it doesn't burn and go black.
- You're now going to flavour your rice grains with the fried ginger and Add rice grains to the pan, tossing with ginger and garlic on medium high heat for 7 minutes.
- Remove from heat and transfer flavoured grains into the rice cooker. Add kaffir lime leaf/pandan leaf for more depth of flavour. Pour chicken broth from the stockpot into the rice cooker. The rice to liquid ratio is 1¼ liquid: 1 cup rice. So if you're using 2 cups of rice, then add 2½ cups worth of chicken broth. Add a dash of salt and sugar (white sugar is fine). Then cook!
- When the rice is ready, open lid and use a fork or wooden spoon/rice spoon to fluff up the rice. Leave for it for 5 minutes.
ASSEMBLE & SERVE
- On a plate, add rice, chicken and sliced cucumber. Drizzle the punchy sauce on (as much as you'd like) and garnish with coriander and spring onion.