Updated: Sep 9, 2020
This dish means so much to me because it's my favourite dish EVER. When I was in primary school I got so chubby and fat because my Singaporean grandma / oma knew how much I loved this dish so every single weekend she would make this for us and I would literally have 3 full servings. Some people call it hainam, hainan, hainanese, I call it chicken rice too sometimes. My friend, Nenet, asked me for a recipe but I didn't have one and I always thought that this dish was so hard to make. I thought it would be impossible to get it to the same level of deliciousness as my grandma's hainan chicken rice. Anyway, since we are #SezPKuarantined, I thought why not give it a try.
I asked my grandma for her recipe and she gave me some guidance via WhatsApp text, albeit she didn't include her exact measurements or anything 😂I then decided I was going to give this a try. Checked my ingredients and I didn't have enough rice but Jesus has blessed me with a rice angel by the name of Bibian. She turned up with a jar of brown rice and left it on my doorstep because #SocialDistancing. She also waited until I opened the door because rice is basically gold these days. I haven't been able to find any rice for 2 weeks now in London and it's so sad! Anyway let's get into it! It's not my grandma's secret recipe obviously because I've changed bits to it to make it easier etc but let's thank the Lord for my grandma and her cooking.
My rice needs work but everything else (the chicken, soup, chilli sauce) was 10/10. Enjoy!!
Wow factor: ⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This recipe is a tiny bit complicated, but it is so worth it. Hope it makes sense though, if not let us know in the comments!
Part 1: The Chicken and the Chilli Dip
4 chicken legs or 1 whole chicken, skin on
Around 3 litres of water
1tbsp sea salt
1tbsp ground white pepper (adjust to taste)
5 stalks celery
2 spring onions
1 or 2 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and smashed (No fresh ginger? use 1tbsp ground ginger)
10 small red chillis, seedless if you want the chili dip to be less spicy
3 garlic cloves, crushed
10tbsp white vinegar
Roughly chop your celery stalks and spring onion into 4 or 5 cm pieces.
Tip water, salt, pepper, celery, spring onion, and ginger into a LARGE pot/sauce pot. Bring to boil.
Once it has started boiling, slowly lower your chicken legs into the pot, cover with a lid and bring to boil over low heat.
Boil chicken for 20-30 minutes. In the meantime, you can work on the chili dip.
In a pestle & mortar, grind the chillis, garlic, salt, and sugar. When this turns into a somewhat smooth paste (or at least incorporated), move it to a small sauce plate / dish and add vinegar. Mix well and set aside.
When your chicken is done, turn off the heat.
Move chicken pieces to a casserole dish or a big bowl.
The chicken stock should be kept to cook your hainan rice and as a side for when you serve this dish. Move on to Part 2: The Hainan Rice.
Part 2: The Hainan Rice
2 cups of rice
Around 3 cups of chicken stock from Part 1 (don't worry if you are also including the celery or spring onions, it makes the rice more interesting)
Wash rice and tip into your rice cooker along with the 3 cups of chicken stock.
If using a saucepan, then wash rice and tip into saucepan and add 4 cups of chicken stock instead of 3.
When done, keep rice warm.
Move on to Part 3: The Soy Sauce.
Part 3: The Soy Sauce
The MOST DELICIOUS SAUCE EVER especially on hainan rice and chicken.
5tbsp sunflower oil
5tbsp kikkoman soy sauce (you can use other brands but this is a trusted SezPK household brand)
Handful of coriander leaves and more for serving
Heat the oil in a small saucepan, over low heat.
When it is slightly hot, add the soy sauce and mix well using a spatula until it looks well-combined. Should take around 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Go back to your casserole dish / bowl where the chicken legs are, and pour this soy sauce mixture all over your chicken legs.
You can also pierce holes in the chicken legs using a small knife and spoon over the soy sauce so it goes ALL UP IN THAT CHICKEN LEG'S GRILL.
Sprinkle coriander leaves on chicken legs.
Part 4: Assembly
Reheat your chicken stock to serve as soup. You can also add a handful of baby spinach or chinese cabbage to spruce it up. Chinese cabbage takes time to cook though so don't forget to boil the soup longer if you are adding more solid veg.
Your rice should now be ready, move to a big bowl to serve.
If the chicken is cold, that is okay because they always serve the chicken cold even in Singapore. This is the traditional way to serve hainan chicken.
Be careful with the chilli sauce as the spice can really creep up on you! If it needs more salt, pepper or vinegar, feel free to add more.
Serve everything together (chicken, rice, soup, chilli sauce) with a bowl of fresh coriander and don't forget to spoon healthy amounts of that soy sauce mixture all over your rice.
Most importantly, take another serving if your heart asks for it 😍
You are very very welcome, and I do hope you enjoy this Singaporean feast. PK certainly loved it!! 👩🏻🍳