Posted August 8, 2014 by Tammi Kwok in Destinations

The Myth of Hainanese Chicken Rice + Recipe and Recommendations

In the food world, Singapore is almost synonymous with Chicken Rice, which – in Singapore – is known as Hainanese Chicken Rice. This has been cause for much confusion for me growing up – is it a local dish? Or is it an import from China? To add to the confusion, my father then visited Hainan, and came home to report that there wasn’t really a Hainanese Chicken Rice in Hainan, just like there really isn’t a Singapore Noodle in Singapore. 

So what is this mysterious dish? 

Delicately poached chicken is served at room temperature with a portion of fragrant rice, and a selection of condiments

Well, Hainanese Chicken Rice is actually the name for a dish – invented in Singapore – by immigrant Hainanese chefs. These foreign chefs cast the multitudes of influences that were available in Singapore – we were a nation of immigrants, after all – and came up with many local dishes that have since become staples in the country. 

Don’t let the simple presentation fool you, though. This dish takes a lot of work to prepare – a good chicken isn’t overcooked, but is cooked just enough to make it safe to eat – and the resulting stock is used in the many condiments that local Singaporeans take for granted. 

To properly enjoy this dish, I always like to mix in 1 part black sauce, 1 part ginger sauce and 2 parts chilli sauce, ’til each mouthful of the fragrant rice has specks of red, black and white. For good measure, mix in the dressing that is ladled generously over the poached chicken for an extra juicy spoonful. 

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Serves 6
Chicken is delicately poached in a master stock, which also goes into cooking the fragrant rice that’s served with the chicken. Served with a selection of condiments, it’s no wonder that it’s Singapore’s favourite exported dish.

808 calories
118 g
82 g
16 g
46 g
5 g
1513 g
26990 g
18 g
0 g
10 g

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size


Amount Per Serving
Calories 808
Calories from Fat 143

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 16g

Saturated Fat 5g

Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 82mg

Sodium 26990mg

Total Carbohydrates 118g

Dietary Fiber 9g

Sugars 18g
Protein 46g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

  1. For the chicken
  2. 1 Chicken (1.5kg)
  3. 4L water
  4. 1L chicken stock
  5. 60g ginger, peeled and sliced
  6. 5 stalks of Spring Onion
  7. 2 Asian Eschallots, peeled and halved
  8. 2 tbsp salt
  9. 1 cup salt to clean the chicken with
  10. For the Rice
  11. 2 cups long grain rice
  12. 4 cups (1L) chicken stock (from cooking the chicken)
  13. 1 tbsp salt
  14. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  15. 10g ginger, sliced
  16. 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  17. 3 tbsp chicken fat
  18. For the Chilli Sauce
  19. 60g ginger, peeled and sliced
  20. 10 long red chillies, seeded
  21. 2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  22. Juice of 1 lime
  23. 1.5 tbsp salt
  24. 2 tbsp white sugar
  25. 10 tbsp (200ml) chicken stock from cooking the chicken
  26. For the Ginger Sauce
  27. 95g ginger, peeled and sliced
  28. 3 large garlic cloves
  29. 1 tbsp salt
  30. 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  31. Juice of 1 lime
  32. 200ml chicken stock
  33. For the chicken dressing
  34. 1/4 cup (60ml) light soy sauce
  35. 1/2 cup (125ml) Chinese Cooking Wine
  36. 1 cup (250ml) Chicken stock from cooking the chicken
  37. Juice of 1/2 lime
  38. For the black sauce
  39. 6 tbsp karamel masakan (cooking soy caramel, not as sweet as kecap manis]
  40. 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  1. For the Chicken
  2. Rub the chicken thoroughly all over – including the cavity – with the cup of salt. Coarse salt is best if you can get your hands on it. Rinse off the salt.
  3. Stuff the chicken with 40g of ginger, and all of the spring onions.
  4. Place the rest of the ingredients for the poaching liquid – I used a non-circulated sous vide machine – and fully submerge the chicken. Poach for 3 hours, at 64C.
  5. Rest the chicken while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Reduce the poaching liquid till there’s only 2L of liquid left. Retain the fat from the chicken that has rendered into the poaching liquid.
  7. For the rice
  8. Heat the sesame seed oil and chicken fat in a large pot and lightly sautée the garlic and ginger till fragrant. Add the rice, stock, and salt, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed. If you have access to pandan leaves, tie them into a knot and simmer them with the rice.
  9. For the chilli sauce
  10. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process till it becomes a fine sauce
  11. For the ginger sauce
  12. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process till it becomes a fine sauce.
  13. For the chicken dressing
  14. Mix the soy sauce and cooking wine in a small saucepan and reduce by half. Add the cup of chicken stock, lime juice and warm through.
  15. For the black sauce
  16. Mix all the ingredients till smooth.
  1. I’ve used Australian limes, which are much larger and less sweet than Singaporean limes. If you can get a hold of Singaporean limes, use 2 of them to make up 1 Australian lime.
  2. I’ve also used a sous vide machine as it was going to get me the best result for the least amount of fuss. You can also bring the liquid up to a rolling boil, turn off the heat, and place the whole chicken in the hot liquid. Techniques vary, but it is very important that the chicken reaches the minimum of the 64C mark. If you are using a sous vide machine, it is best not to use a circulated model – there will be pieces of ginger and eschallots floating around in the poaching liquid that will clog up your circulator.





I Ate My Way Through https://iatemywaythrough.com/

If you’re not up for all the work making your own, and well, you happen to find yourself in Singapore, here are some of my favourite places to eat this local delight!

Our Bucket List for Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore
Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice

3023323391_b3bfc075a6_z Source: Yosoynuts

Boon Tong Kee does a Cantonese style of chicken rice, which apparently uses younger chickens than Hainanese chicken rice. Personally, I can’t entirely tell the difference, but they do do a delicious plate of chicken, as well as other accompanying dishes such as crispy tofu to complement your meal.

Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice
401 Balestier Road
Phone: +65 6254 3937

Five Star Chicken Rice

Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice Source: Daisuke Horie

This is a favourite chicken rice joint for the late night eaters. Typically patronised by relatively young Singaporeans who stay out really late, they provide a decent plate of Chicken Rice with all the trimmings. If you’re after a more balanced meal, they also have a variety of other cooked-to-order dishes that you can choose from the menu too.

Five Star Chicken Rice
419 River Valley Road
Phone: +65 6235 6760
Web: http://www.fivestarchickenrice.com

Tian Tian Chicken Rice

Tian Tian's Chicken RiceSource: Mechie Choa

To be really honest, this chicken rice stall is on the list because, well, everyone talks about it. Seems to be a must-try, although I’ve never actually been to it myself. But it’s gotta be famous for a reason right?

Tian Tian Chicken Rice
443 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427656
Phone: +65 6345 9443
Web: www.tiantianchickenrice.com

Tong Fong Fatt Boneless Chicken Rice

This little shop located in 409 Ang Mo Kio Food Centre not only has long lines snaking round the hawker centre often, it also usually sells out before dinner. I like going here not only because it’s balanced and delicious, but also because you can get awesome barbecued chicken wings from Chong Pang Huat round the corner.

Tong Fong Fatt Boneless Chicken Rice
Ave 10 Blk 409 Ang Mo Kio

Ming Kee Chicken Rice

This chicken rice stall also constantly features a queue – it’s just what we do for food in Singapore, or for anything, for that matter – but I love the tender chicken here, as well as the option to go for rice porridge as well. Wanna eat like a local? Order a side of crunchy chicken gizzards to go with your meal.

Ming Kee Chicken Rice
Kim San Leng Coffee Shop
511 Bishan Street 13
Singapore 570511

Nan Xiang Chicken Rice

Nan Xiang Chicken Rice is known more for their ginger sauce and rice. They reportedly fry the rice grains before cooking the rice, adding an extra dimension of flavour and texture to it. Go here because you can not only get a good plate of chicken rice, but Whampoa Hawker centre also houses another stall that does great Char Kway Teow.

Nan Xiang Chicken Rice
#01-21, Whampoa Drive Makan Place (Whampoa Food Centre)
90 Whampoa Drive

Tammi Kwok

Tammi is a glutton and food nerd. She believes in food as an experiential journey, and loves learning the stories and culture behind the food. Eat. All. The. Food.