Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice with Ginger & Green Onion Sauce

I’ve always loved this dish, especially the delicious ginger and green onion sauce, so I thought I’d give it a try and discovered it’s surprisingly easy (especially with a few tips from the brilliant Tony Tan). It takes a few hours, but most of that is just resting time. There are a few steps because of the sauce and rice, but nothing tricky, I promise. You’ll need a big bowl and lots of ice to chill the chicken once it’s cooked, this gives it a lovely gelatinous texture. I use a combination of poultry shears and a Chinese cleaver to cut the chicken up. I found a brilliant wine match for this dish in the unusual savagnin sous voile Cri de Coeur from Crittenden Estate. Made in the style of a Jura vin jaune, it has subtle savoury amontillado notes that work a treat with the umami of the chicken rice, sweetness of the fried shallots and spicy ginger and green onion. Enjoy!

Serves 4–6

  • 1 x 1.5kg chicken
  • Salt flakes, to taste
  • 3cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 green onions, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, more or less (see note)
  • 3 red shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 400g jasmine rice
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into half moons
  • Sambal oelek or other chilli sauce (optional)


Ginger & Green Onion Sauce

  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoon very finely grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt flakes, crushed
  • 8 green onions, white and pale green part very finely chopped
  1. Wipe out belly cavity of the chicken to remove any remaining blood or offal. Pat dry and remove any excess fat from around the tail or neck, set fat aside.
  2. Rub chicken generously with salt inside and out and set aside for an hour to come to room temperature.
  3. Place ginger and green onion inside the cavity of the chicken.
  4. Place in a saucepan that holds it snugly, add enough cold water to cover it. Add Shaoxing, cover and bring to the boil.
  5. Skim to remove any froth that has floated to the top, remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 1 hour.
  6. Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid, draining the cavity. Place into a large bowl of well iced water and set aside until chilled.
  7. Strain cooking liquid through a cloth-lined sieve, return to a clean saucepan and set aside.
  8. Meanwhile, place the reserved chicken fat in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until it melts; discard (or eat) the crisp bits of chicken and measure the rendered fat.
  9. Add enough vegetable oil to make up to ¼ cup and return combined fat and oil to a medium-high heat.
  10. When oil is hot, add shallot and fry for about 5 minutes, until starting to colour, stirring regularly so steam can escape.
  11. Add garlic and cook for a further minute or so until shallot is dark golden.
  12. Add rice and stir for a minute or so to coat well in the fat.
  13. Add 600ml of the chicken cooking liquid and bring to the boil.
  14. Stir, reduce heat to as low as possible, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until all the liquid has absorbed. Remove from heat, replace lid with a clean tea towel and set aside.
  15. Meanwhile, make Ginger & Green Onion Sauce: heat oil in a small saucepan, stir in ginger, salt and green onion and cook for about a minute, until well combined and just starting to break down. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving dish and set aside.
  16. Return remaining chicken cooking liquid to a simmer. Taste, add salt, cover and set aside to keep warm.
  17. Halve the chicken and cut into pieces: cut each drumstick and wing into 2 and thighs and breasts into large bite-sized slices.
  18. Arrange rice on a platter, top with chicken, and spoon a little Ginger & Green Onion Sauce over the top.
  19. Serve with cucumber, remaining Ginger & Green Onion Sauce, chilli sauce if you like, and small bowls of remaining chicken poaching liquid on the side to sip or spoon over the rice.

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