Hainanese chicken rice is a dish adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from Hainan province in southern China. It is based on a well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken (文昌雞), which is one of four important Hainan dishes dating to the Qin dynasty. The Hainanese in China traditionally used a specific breed, the Wenchang chicken, to make the dish. The original dish was adapted by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area (present-day Southeast Asia)
In Singapore, the dish was born out of frugality, created by servant-class immigrants trying to stretch the flavour of the chicken.
Hainanese chicken rice is considered one of Singapore’s national dishes. It is eaten “everywhere, every day” in Singapore and is a “ubiquitous sight in hawker centres across the country”.
While most commonly associated with Singaporean cuisine, the dish is also seen throughout Southeast Asia and in parts of the United States. The dish is widely popular in Singapore and can be found in most coffee shops and food courts.
Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe
Yields: 5 servings
Calories: 970 calories
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Keywords: chicken, rice
- 1 (4 pound) whole chicken
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 (1 inch) pieces fresh ginger root, peeled
- 2 green onions
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 4 cups chicken stock
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups long grain rice, rinsed and drained
- cilantro sprigs
- sliced green onion
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
How to Cook
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Crush 3 cloves of garlic and 2 pieces of ginger, and place them into the cavity of the chicken. Tie the green onions into a knot, and place them into the chicken along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Carefully submerge the chicken breast side down into the water.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand covered for 40 minutes, turning the chicken over half way through.
- While the chicken is cooking, heat the vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Fry the shallots, ginger, and garlic in the oil until fragrant. Add cilantro and rice, and cook, stirring until toasted. Pour in chicken stock and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until rice is tender and ‘steam holes’ appear in the surface of the rice, about 20 minutes.
- When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot, and place under cold running water to tighten the skin. Rub the outside with sesame oil, and chop into pieces. Place pieces on a serving platter, and garnish with cilantro, green onion, cucumber and tomato. Serve with rice.
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