Hainanese chicken rice

Preparation time:
30 mins
Cooking time:
1 hour 40 mins

Back to basics with tender chicken, this Singaporean dish is pure comfort food with a dash of spice on the side.


1.8kg whole chicken
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup shaoxing wine
8cm piece ginger, chopped
12 cloves garlic
4L water
6 eschalots, finely sliced
2 cups long-grain rice
1 bunch watercress,
sprigs picked
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
6 long red chillies, deseeded
Juice of 3 limes
Sea-salt flakes, to season
Sesame oil, to serve
Extra watercress sprigs, to serve
Kecap manis, to serve


1. Trim excess skin and fat from chicken neck and cavity. Reserve. Put ½ the soy sauce, ½ the wine, ½ the ginger and 4 of the garlic cloves in a blender. Blend until smooth. Spoon paste into chicken cavity and rub in to coat cavity.

2. Put remaining wine in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add water and chicken. Cook for 10 minutes. Cover with lid, turn off heat and stand for 1 hour or until chicken is just cooked. Remove chicken from poaching liquid and transferto a large bowl, reserving poaching liquid. Rub chicken with remaining soy. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, mince 4 of the garlic cloves. Heat a large saucepan over a high heat. Add reserved chicken skin and fat. Cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Add eschalot and minced garlic. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add rice and 3 cups of the poaching liquid. Bring to a simmer. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Set aside for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

4. Put remaining poaching liquid, watercress and cucumber in a medium saucepan over a highheat. Bring to the boil and cook for 30 minutes or until reduced by half to make a broth.

5. To make chilli paste, put chilli and remaining ginger and garlic in a blender. Blend until almost smooth. Fold in lime juice. Season with salt.

6. Carve chicken. Divide rice between bowls. Top each with chicken, 1 cup of the broth, a drizzle of oil and extra watercress. Serve with kecap manis and chilli paste.


Don’t lift the lid of the saucepan while the chicken is standing, as the heat trapped inside is still helping it cook through.

Stephanie Souvlis
Andre Martin

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