I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Hainanese chicken rice is my all time favorite chicken and rice dish. I love Hainanese chicken rice because all the elements of the dish work together perfectly and cannot be complete without one another. The three elements are the chicken, rice, and sauce. Personally, I believe the most important part is the rice which I will go into detail about later.
Of all the ways to cook chicken, this is one of the few times where it is actually boiled then chilled in an ice bath. This creates an elastic, springy texture that is unlike anything else. The flavor comes from the sauces and is extremely important if you want the correct flavors.
Usually, Hainanese chicken rice recipes call for a whole chicken which I have done before. This is a great and traditional method, but a whole chicken just seems like so much work. That is why for this recipe I will only be using a chicken leg. Feel free to double the recipe if you are cooking for more than just yourself.
Key steps and ingredients for perfect Hainanese chicken rice
Chicken stock for rice: The key to flavorful rice is cooking your rice in the chicken stock that you just finished cooking your chicken in. The reason this is different from regular stock is because of the oil from the chicken that floating at the top. Trust me, that oil adds a ton of flavor into the rice.
Ice bath: After you are finished the cooking process, you want to immediately drop your chicken into an ice bath for 10 minutes. this will create a soft, elastic texture which is what you are looking for in the chicken. Don’t worry about the temperature of the chicken because it is actually supposed to be served at room temperature.
Turmeric powder: I’m gonna be honest, turmeric powder adds pretty much no flavor at all but it adds a lot of color. I use this to boil the chicken which creates that perfect yellow skin and also in the rice which is what makes it yellow. You know what they say, your eyes eat first!
De-boning: De-boning the chicken and cutting the chicken into pieces is how it is usually served. You can skip this step but I think it looks better. In a chicken leg, there are only two main bones. One that runs along the drum and another along the thigh. First thing I do is separate the drum and thigh. Then I start scraping the meat away from the bone with a knife while keeping the skin side in tact. You want to expose the bone until you can pull it out and separate from the meat.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
- 1½ L water (to boil chicken)
- 1 large chicken leg
- 3 scallion whites (save greens as garnish)
- 1 slice ginger
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- ½ tbsp turmeric powder
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp sesame oil (for brushing on at the end)
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1¼ cups chicken stock (from chicken)
- 2 tbsp ginger (chopped)
- 1 shallot or small yellow onion (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
Ginger Scallion Oil Ingredients
- ¼ cup ginger (finely chopped or minced)
- 1 stalk scallion chopped
- ½ tsp salt
Chili Sauce Ingredients (optional)
- 3 long red chilies
- 1 deseeded birds eye chili
- ½ lime (juiced)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 knob peeled ginger (equal amount to garlic)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp chicken stock
- Wash the chicken thoroughly (this gives you a clearer broth to serve later on).
- Season chicken with 2 tbsp of salt. (this might seem like a lot but remember you're boiling it)
- Bring water up to a boil then throw in scallions, ginger, garlic, turmeric powder, and pinch of salt. Make sure there is just enough water to cover the chicken.
- Drop the chicken leg into the water and bring heat down to a simmer to cook for 25 minutes.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare your rice ingredients (wash rice, chop shallots, garlic and ginger)
- Using 1 tbsp of oil, fry shallots, ginger, and garlic for 1-2 minutes over high heat.
- Add rice, and tumeric powder then mix until combined and set aside in rice cooker.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, take it out and immediately place in an ice bath for 10 minutes (this gives it that springy elastic chicken texture).
- Pour 1¼ cups of the chicken broth (broth made from cooking chicken) into the rice cooker and cook accordingly. Don't worry about oil from the chicken in the stock, that adds extra flavor.
- While I wait for the rice to cook I usually make the ginger scallion oil and chili sauce. Ginger scallion oil is a must for this dish, chili sauce is optional but recommended. (I will link a full recipe post for the sauces below this recipe card.)
- To make the chili sauce, combine all chili sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- To make the ginger scallion oil, finely chop ginger and scallions, if you're lazy just grate the ginger(the finer the better) then add salt and pour over hot oil.
- De-bone chicken (recommended)
- Plate the rice and brush chicken with sesame oil. Serve with sauces and top with green onions!