Recipe: Hainanese Chicken

Hainanese chicken is one of those comfort food cravings I often have to have quenched. The recipe is simple but the preparation can be a bit time consuming so go ahead and make a lot of it and invite a bunch of people over. This meal will please many.

I could give you the whole history of these dishes but that might bore some and I'd probably get all the facts wrong anyways. So I'll leave you with this wikipedia page on hainanese chicken.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


For the Chicken:
3 lb whole chicken
2 oz whole ginger smashed with a knife
5 cloves of garlic crushed and peel removed
3 green onions
2 whole shallots cut in half
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
salt to taste

Garnish with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and asian seedless cucumber

For the Rice:
1 cup jasmine rice
2 tbsp peanut oil or chicken fat from broth
1.5 cups chicken broth reserved from the boiled chicken
2 tbsp shallot minced
1.5 tbsp garlic minced
1 tbsp ginger minced

Chili Sauce:
4 limes juiced
4-10 thai hot peppers based on heat preference
1 tsp garlic minced
1 tbsp ginger minced
1 tsp palm sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)
1 tbsp reserved chicken broth

Sweet Soy Sauce:
1 tbsp soy sauce (kikkoman or tamari brand)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce (this is a dark thick soy sauce that can be found at asian markets)
1 tbsp palm sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)
1 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar

Ginger Sauce:
1 tbsp ginger finely minced
2 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp salt

This dish calls for shocking the chicken in an ice bath to get the skin taught after it's been simmering in the broth. You'll find that for some the texture of the skin may be too gelatinous. Simply peel the skin away and eat the meat. Cooking with a whole chicken adds a lot of flavor to the broth since all the bones are cooked in.


1) Start by giving the chicken a good wash under cold water. Remove any blood that may still be surrounding the spine or neck area and remove the organ sack and neck found in the cavity of the bird and pat dry with a paper towel.

2) Sprinkle the inside cavity of the bird with some kosher salt and get your hand in there to move it around evenly. It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it.

3) Take the green onion, shallots, garlic, and ginger and put it in the cavity of the bird. It doesn't have to be neat and it's ok if it can't all fit. Put the bird in a pot big enough to fit the bird and cover the bird with cold water, whatever is left from the veggies and spices just add to the water. I use my 5qt dutch oven.

4) Put the heat on medium and bring it to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes once you see the first signs of bubbles. Don't let it get to a rolling boil. A simmer is just when a few bubbles make their way to the surface.

5) The Rice: It's very important to get the rice right. If you've never made rice this will probably be the hardest step. Wash the rice in cold water to remove any excess starch at least three times and set aside to dry in a colander. Add peanut oil, garlic, ginger, and shallots to a non-stick pan and toast until aromatic, then add the rice. Toast the rice with the mixture until the rice begins to clump together. Put all the rice and 1.5 cups of cooking broth into a pot or rice maker. If using a rice maker, this step is easy. Just turn it on and you're set.(Follow your rice cookers normal water to rice proportions)

5.5) If you're using a pot to make rice, first bring the rice and broth to a boil over high heat and then lower heat to low. Do not open the lid while the rice is cooking, and do NOT forget to lower the heat or you'll burn your kitchen down.

6) The Sauces: While your chicken is simmering, prepare the sauces. I start with getting all the ingredients chopped up and just adding them as I go. In other words. Chop enough ginger to make all the sauces and rice and have it ready. This will save you a lot of time. For all three sauces just combine each of their respective ingredients into a small bowl and mix together. The added broth from the simmering chicken can be added just before you eat.

7) Prepare a large bowl with ice and cold water. Remove the chicken once it's done and submerge in the ice bath to stop it from cooking, and to tighten up the skin. Leave the chicken in there for a couple minutes and pull it out and let air dry for another 5 minutes. Once dry enough rub the chicken with the toasted sesame oil and chop it apart into bite size pieces.

8) Slice tomato into wedges, cucumber into diagonal pieces, and arrange with cilantro on a plate.

9) To serve, put rice in a bowl and a few pieces of chicken. Use a clean spoon for each of the sauces and try not to contaminate them with your saliva. This will keep the sauces longer in your fridge.(They will keep for at least 3 days)

10) EAT! You've worked hard for this dish, now eat. Just pour some sauces over your chicken and rice and munch away, you deserve it!