Heart Of The House

Chicken Rice – Singapore Style

Chicken Rice or more commonly known as Hainanese chicken rice is a very popular dish in Singapore.  Every hawker centre or food court will have at least a chicken rice stall..  There are also many eateries that specialised in this dish.   When  living in Singapore, Max and I used to frequent a well known one in the River Valley area.

The chicken is slowly poached in a broth infused with garlic and ginger and served with very fragrant rice that has first been fried in ginger, garlic and chicken fat, then cooked in the chicken broth.  Below is the recipe:

Hainanese Chicken Rice

1 organic whole chicken (preferably pastured)
1 tsp sea salt
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
thumbsize of fresh ginger (crushed)
2 stalks green onions
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the rice:
1 tablespoon rendered chicken fat
1 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 thumb-size ginger, finely minced
1 cup uncooked rice (basmati or jasmine), washed and soaked overnight
2 cups reserved chicken poaching broth
1/4 tsp sea salt

For the garlic chilli sauce:
5 red chillies
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp chicken stock
1/2  tbs lime juice

For the ginger sauce:
thumb-size fresh ginger (about 6 cm)
3 cloves garlic
a pinch of sea salt
1 tbs chicken stock
1/2 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp sesame oil

For the garnishes:
Cucumber slices
Tomato slices
1 stalk spring onion (cut into 1 cm)
1 sprig coriander (cut into 1 cm)


The Chicken

  1. Rinse chicken and pat very dry inside and outside.
  2. Rub inside and outside of chicken with salt.   Stuff the chicken with the ginger, garlic and green onions.
  3. Place chicken in a large stockpot and fill with cold water  ensuring the whole chicken is covered by the water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then  turn the heat immediately to low to just simmering. Cook for about 30 minutes (timing depends on the size of the chicken).
  4. When chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer chicken immediately into a bath of ice water to cool. (This will stop the cooking process, keeping the meat tender and a firm succulent texture to the skin.)
  6. Reserve the poaching liquid for preparing your rice, your sauce, and the accompanying soup.
  7. While rice is cooking, remove the chicken from the ice bath and rub the outside of the chicken with the sesame oil. Carve the chicken into bite size.

The Rice

  1. Render the reserved chicken fats and skins and set aside.
  2. In a pot, add tablespoon of the rendered chicken fat and fry the ginger and garlic. Add the drained rice and stir fry until fragrant.  Add 2 cups of the poaching broth and salt.  Bring to a boil, immediately lower heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes with the lid on.


  1. To make the chili garlic sauce: Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and bright red.
  2. To make the ginger sauce:  Blend all the ingredients in a blender.
  3. To make the broth:  Just before serving, heat up the poaching liquid, add shredded greens (if you like), taste and season as necessary.

Serve the chicken rice with the chilli garlic sauce,  ginger sauce, cucumber/tomato slices, and a bowl of chicken broth.

Note:  I added the chicken bones and a couple of chicken feet to the left-over broth and continue to simmer them on low heat to make extra chicken broth for freezing.

And here is a little video from Times on Singapore local (hawker) food scene.  Watch out for the part where the man is chewing on the bone and sucking the bone marrow with a straw.

A Food-Lover’s Guide to Singapore’s Hidden Tastes

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