Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hainan chicken rice

Serves 4

A local specialty from the island of Hainan off the coast of China but revered through all of South East Asia, and my kitchen last night... The chicken should be just cooked, something we in the West can be totally paranoid about, but should the meat be at all dry, it is a complete failure. I could eat this for hours, and often go back, as I did quite late last night, for another couple of chunks of chicken and some cold rice - my garlic breath this morning told me a good evening was had...


1 whole chicken, about 2kg

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, peeled

4 slices fresh ginger, peeled

4 spring onions, trimmed

3 litres water

2 tblsp sesame oil

Sliced tomatoes for garnish

Sliced cucumbers for garnish

Coriander sprigs for garnish

Chicken rice

400g long grain rice

2 tblsp peanut oil

5 shallots, peeled and minced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 litre reserved stock from cooking Hainan chicken

1/2 tsp salt

Wash chicken and remove excess fat. Rub the inside of the cavity with salt. Smash garlic and ginger slightly with the flat of a knife. Tie spring onions into a knot. Place garlic, ginger, and spring onions inside the chicken cavity.
Bring the water to a boil in a pot large enough to hold the chicken.

Add the chicken, breast-side down. Simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes, turning chicken halfway through the cooking process, until chicken tests done (juices from thigh should just run clear when pricked with a fork).

Carefully remove chicken, draining liquid from body cavity back into the pot. Reserve the stock to make chicken rice. Plunge the chicken into ice water for 5 minutes to stop the cooking process and tighten the skin. Drain, rub with sesame oil, and let cool to room temperature.

To serve, chop chicken into bite-size pieces (the Chinese do this bone and all) and arrange on a platter. Garnish with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and coriander sprigs.

To make the chicken rice, wash the rice and drain in a colander. Let stand 1/2 hour to dry.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the shallots and garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add rice grains and stir-fry 3-4 minutes, until glossy and fragrant.

Transfer to a saucepan. Add the chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the liquid level evaporates to the level of the rice and steam holes appear. Turn heat to low. Cover and simmer for barely 10 minutes.

Serve the chicken with the rice, with chilli and garlic oil, dark soy sauce and chilli sauce, and a bowl of the remaining broth finished with a little chopped coriander.


  1. i would douse this with the chili-garlic oil before tucking in. i love the idea of cooking the chicken just right- it's true though that most people are averse to this...scared of salmonella. btw, how about choosing a great name for your blog? it's not just "recipes", it's a wonderful compilation.

  2. Can we go with just 'kitchen' till we come up with something catchy?!

  3. How come have a cocky western guy teaching chinese recipe? Cheeky!!!!