Hainanese Chicken Rice

My favourite kitchen gadget – Hainanese Chicken Rice

You know how Buzzfeed has all these lists of neat little things you need to have in your kitchen/bathroom/car/purse/water bottle? I thought I’d write my own little list and share with you my favourite gadgets.

So I looked up “kitchen gadgets” while writing this and OH MY GOD! I can’t believe the things they sell these days. Go on, I dare you to look it up yourself. I mean, really? A banana peeler?? Really?? The site says it’s a gadget designed with kids in mind, but I say, teach our kids to peel a banana.  If a monkey can do it, so can our kids. I’d like to think that my kids are not any less intelligent than a monkey. Although sometimes I’m not so sure myself…….

It really is quite amazing when you look at what’s available these days. The innovation and creativity out there is mind-blowing. Granted, most of them are not at all necessary.  They’re still nice to have around, jamming our kitchen drawers. Anyway, back to my list. It’s really not a list . It’s really just one thing but I cannot cook live without! My ginger grater! And it’s so easy to clean. Just rinse and leave to dry.

Ginger grater
Sorry I didn’t have better lighting

I’ve seen these things going for 27 Francs here and I cannot believe the balls on these Swiss vendors!! I got mine for 2 dollars in Daiso Singapore. To be fair, I also saw Takashimaya sell it for 42 dollars. So yeah…… maybe Taka is really run by the Swiss. Now that’s a thought.

You might have noticed that quite a few of my recipes call for grated garlic and ginger. This is what I use to make it. What I like to do, is grate a few cloves of garlic and some ginger, mix it with sesame oil and store it in a little container in the refrigerator. This way I always have grated garlic and ginger on hand. And I use it for everything. From stir-fry to sauces to marinades. It’s just so convenient. What do you know? My very own kitchen hack!

The grated garlic and ginger is also a key ingredient in making Hainanese Chicken Rice. My cheat version, that is. And although it is a cheat version, I feel that I need to tell the following story. While we were back in Singapore, my sister asked my husband over a plate of Chicken Rice if my version is any different from the original. She asked because she knows that it’s his favourite Singaporean dish. He took a bite, thought for a second, and shook his head. Beaming and silly grins followed. Maybe he was just smart enough to keep me happy, or maybe his standards are low or maybe it’s just that good. Find out for yourself.

Hainanese Chicken Rice
Yes, Hainanese chicken rice is served boneless, which explains this hot mess. No, I didn’t bother with the wing cos nobody ain’t got time for that.

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time now but I could never get a decent looking plate of chicken that’s nicely cut up to show you guys. Trust me when I tell you that it’s a challenge to dissect, de-bone, cut and plate chicken in a presentable way. But this post is not me saying that I’ve finally done it. Oh no. This post is me saying that I’ve given up on that illusion. It’s gonna look like mush in my tummy anyway. Right? It’s the flavour that counts and I gotta say, it’s pretty kick ass (for a cheat version). The recipe looks rather lengthy but it’s actually really easy to do. I mean, you know how lazy I am. I wouldn’t make it if it wasn’t.

Don’t be surprised though if you should one day go to Hainan and be served something entirely different. Although it’s called Hainanese Chicken Rice, it’s really uniquely Singaporean (and some would say Malaysian too). That’s what we do best, take something, change it, make it our own and confuse the sh*t out of people. But hey, did you know that we don’t have Singapore noodles in Singapore? *slow nod*

Do you have a favourite kitchen gadget you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments! Because I need to jam my drawers some more 😉

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice (lazy cheat version)

Serves 4


For the chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 1.2 kg
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thumb-sized knob of ginger
  • half an onion
  • 1 tsp of whole szechuan peppercorn
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

For the rice:

  • 2 cups of jasmine rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock (from cooking the chicken)
  • 2 pandan leaves, knotted (optional. I didn’t use this because I didn’t want to buy a whole pack just for 2 leaves)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 generous tsp garlic and ginger paste*
  • 1 Tbsp  sesame oil

For the chill sauce:

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 pieces of ginger the size of a garlic clove
  • 3 red chilies
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ – 1 tsp salt
  • 1 – 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 – 2 tsp chicken stock

Garlic and ginger paste

  • Grate together 3 parts of garlic to 2 parts of ginger and mix in just enough sesame oil to coat everything. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Use in EVERYTHING!

The chicken

  • Fill a large pot about ¾ full of water. Add in garlic, ginger, onion and szechuan pepper and bring to a boil.
  • In the meantime, clean the chicken if necessary and trim off excess skin and fat.
  • When the water has boiled, slowly lower the chicken, breast side down, into the water. If the water doesn’t cover the chicken, top up with more until it does.
  • Put the pot lid back on tightly and bring the water back to a boil.
  • Once water has boiled, turn off the heat and leave the chicken to poach for about 30 mins.
  • After 30 mins, bring the water back to a boil, turn off the heat and leave to poach another 30 mins.
  • In a large bowl, add ice and enough water to cover chicken. Remove the chicken from the pot and plunge into the ice bath. Do not throw out the stock, we need it for the rice! The ice bath stops the cooking process and tightens the chicken skin so it doesn’t just disintegrate when you put it into your mouth. I usually leave it in the ice bath till all the ice has melted.
  • Once cooled, remove the chicken from the ice bath and leave to rest while you prepare the rice and chill sauce.
  • When you’re ready to serve, chop, cut and/or de-bone as you wish. Mix together soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil and drizzle over chicken pieces.

The rice

  • Wash rice and place in a pot together with everything else.
  • If you’re using a rice cooker, set to cook and that’s the end of it.
  • If you’re cooking on a stove top, bring it to a boil, then lower to the lowest heat setting until no more liquid is visible on the surface. Turn off heat and leave it to sit for 20 mins. Fluff the rice before serving. For more detailed directions, read here.

The chili sauce

  • In a mortar, pound garlic, ginger and chill together until you get a fine paste.
  • Add sugar, salt, lime juice and chicken stock. Adjust accordingly to taste.
  • Alternatively, you can blend everything in a processor or using a hand blender







10 thoughts on “My favourite kitchen gadget – Hainanese Chicken Rice

  1. I’m so glad you are back to posting! This piece has me laughing out loud (Haha! Banana peeler!) 😉 Hainam Chicken is seriously one of my favorite dishes of all time. I’ve always eaten it the Cantonese way, so I’m excited to try making it your way. The chill sauce recipe looks perfect…and as for the pandan leaves, I’ve only seen pandan extract…do you think a few drops of that would work? I’ll have to see if I can find the real stuff somewhere…does it come dried or is it perishable? I’m so hungry now…good thing this is is a recipe for lazy people because I need some ASAP!


    1. I’m so glad you’re still reading my posts! You’ve been very busy with all those cherries! The chicken itself is exactly the same way you make your white cut chicken, which looks perfect by the way. The difference is in the rice and chili sauce. I don’t know if pandan extract would work just as well though I don’t see why it wouldn’t. Except maybe for the colour. But when we use Pandan leaves, it’s usually fresh and perishable. I’ve never seen it dried. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use it though. I usually don’t use it and it tastes every bit as good to me.


  2. I fully agree with you re: gadgets. I find an egg boiler absolutely ridiculous too! For ginger I use a microplane and find it works really well. I use one for grating my parmesan too.

    Hainanese chicken rice is one of the greatest rice recipes ever, along with my other favorites: fried rice, nasi goreng, biryani, & pilau.

    My prep is a little longer as I make a chicken stock (2 and a half hours) first. Then I pretty much follow your recipe, the only difference being I use my chicken stock to poach the chicken instead of water.

    I once made this with a stewing chicken (suppenhuhn in CH) and the flavor was so flipping good, I was gob-smacked! The depth of the chicken flavor was like nothing I’d ever had before.

    I love the pics too. Great job!


    1. I’m glad you like the piece 🙂

      I agree poaching the chicken in stock will result in incredible flavour. I’m just too lazy… Oops….

      Are you based in Switzerland? So happy to have you stop by the blog! Hope to see you again 🙂


  3. Yup, based around Zürich. Been here 6 years and being a MASSIVE foodie, there are lots of types of cuisine that I miss.

    Whenever the food withdrawal becomes too much, I get on a plane to London; fantastic city with outstanding food from almost every culture.

    I enjoy your writing, love the recipes and the pics. Keep it up!



    1. Thank you so much for the encouraging words Ronnie! You’ve just made my day, week and month 🙂

      I’ve never been to London but I’m dying to. It’s on my bucket list.


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