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Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice

A local specialty from the island of Hainan off the coast of China


  • Chicken:
  • 1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 slices fresh ginger, peeled
  • 4 scallions, trimmed
  • about 12 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • sliced tomatoes (garnish)
  • sliced cucumbers (garnish)
  • cilantro sprigs (garnish)
  • Chicken Rice:
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 5 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-1/2 cups reserved stock from cooking Hainanese chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Wash chicken and remove excess fat. Rub the inside of the cavity with salt. Smash garlic and ginger slightly with the flat of a knife. Tie scallions into a knot. Place garlic, ginger, and scallions inside the chicken cavity.

Bring the water to a boil in a pot large enough to hold the chicken. Add the chicken, breast-side down. Simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes, turning chicken halfway through the cooking process, until chicken tests done (juices from thigh should run clear when pricked with a fork).

Carefully remove chicken, draining liquid from body cavity back into the pot. Reserve the stock to make chicken rice. Plunge the chicken into ice water for 5 minutes to stop the cooking process and tighten the skin. Drain, rub with sesame oil, and let cool to room temperature.

To serve, chop chicken into bite-size pieces (the Chinese do this bone and all) and arrange on a platter. Garnish with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and cilantro sprigs.

To make the chicken rice, wash the rice and drain in a colander. Let stand 1/2 hour to dry.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the shallots and garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add rice grains and stir-fry 3-4 minutes, until glossy and fragrant.

Transfer to a saucepan. Add the chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the liquid level evaporates to the level of the rice and steam holes appear. Turn heat to low. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Serve with Hainanese chicken.

Yield: 4 Servings

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