Hainanese Chicken Rice

Even though Singapore has moved forward economically, socially and politically, we’ll never leave our traditional food behind. We bring it with us as we leap into each new frontier. And in all our goodies, hides the essence of our heritage, culture and identity.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice is Singapore’s love and pride in the culinary world. Others might try to imitate it or claim rights over this lovely delicacy but it must be precious for others to want to own it. Like the Chilli Crab and Yusheng, Hainanese Chicken Rice is truly and purely Singapore.

Prep Time : 15 min
Cook Time : 90 min

The Chicken

  • 1.5kg whole chicken
  • 1 clove of garlic, bashed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, sliced and bashed
  • 5 spring onions, knotted together
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp light soy
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp light soy
  • 3 tsp sesame oil

The Rice

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 slices ginger, bashed
  • 3 cups jasmine rice, washed, drained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pandan leaf, fresh
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock, from poaching chicken


  1. Cut the fat surrounding the inner part of the chicken cavity and reserve for the rice
  2. Stuff all the ingredients for the chicken into the cavity of the chicken and secure the opening with a short skewer
  3. Lower the chicken into a stock pot that fits snugly around the sides but is tall enough to allow the chicken to be covered with water. Bring to boil, cover and reduce the heat to poach it gently for 1 hour
  4. Prepare the rub by mixing the soy and 3 tsp sesame oil in a small bowl Test if the chicken is cooked by lifting one of the legs to see if it pulls away easily. Once it is done, transfer the bird onto a plate and massage with the rub. Cover and set aside, then bring stock back to boil for an hour.
  5. To cook the rice, heat the oil and reserved chicken fat in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and saute until fragrant and slightly golden. Add the rice and stir to toaste the grains for a few seconds. Add the salt, pandan and chicken stock, stir and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Reduce to the lowest heat and cook for another 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and rest for 15 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork. Cover and set aside.
  6. Debone chicken and cut into pieces, lay it over sliced cucumbers. Press about 1 cup of rice into a small rice bowl, then invert onto individual dinner plates. Serve Chicken Rice with garlic chilli sauce and kecap manis.
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Ayam Masak Merah (Spicy Red Chicken)

Traditional dishes are greatly sought after nowadays because we are losing the art and skill of cooking such complex dishes.  Ayam Masak Merah (transaltes as Red Spicy Chicken) is much loved by Singaporeans, regardless of race. It is a juxtaposition of flavours – tangy sweetness and prickly hot spiciness – making it a popular traditional dish.


  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 whole chicken (about 1.2kg), cut into 10-12 pieces
  • 3 inches ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large bulb garlic, peeled
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 large onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, crushed
  • 2 large tomatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1 cup fresh coconut milk, thin press
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 stalk coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • enough oil for deep frying chicken


  1. Clean and drain chicken pieces well. Mix together with the first 4 ingredients in the list and let stand for at least 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, blend the ginger and garlic into a paste and prep the other ingredients
  3. In a large pot or wok, heat up oil well and deep fry marinated chicken till just golden brown.
  4. Remove oil from wok, safe about 2-3 tablespoons and return wok to medium high heat.
  5. Add in cinnamon and star anise, fry till fragrant. Add in onions, fry till softened and slightly browned. Add the blended ginger and garlic paste and the lemongrass. Fry for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the chili powder and chili sauce. Stir for about 5 minutes, and then add in coconut milk. Cook till mixture come to a boil, then add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Reduce heat to medium low then add in yogurt and stir well. Add in the chicken and stir thoroughly to coat.
  8. Cook, stirring occasionally till chicken is done and gravy reduced, about 6-8 minutes. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and coriander leaves. Mix well, check seasoning and garnish with more coriander leaves before serving.
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