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Hainanese chicken rice

Serves 6

Preparation 15 minutes

cooking time 1 hour

Text and Recipes Andy Harris
Food Styling Hannah Meppem
Wine Matches Peter Bourne
Photography William Meppem
Styling Sabine Schmitz


1 (about 1.5 kg) chicken
1 knob (about 5cm) ginger, smashed slightly
3 garlic cloves, smashed slightly
2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot
4 spring onions, trimmed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 knob (3cm) ginger, smashed slightly
550g jasmine rice, washed and drained twice
2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot
1.2 litres chicken stock, warm
Ginger sauce
3 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp chicken stock (from the liquid used to poach the chicken)
To serve
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 medium cucumber, sliced
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced thickly
4 sprigs fresh coriander
Singapore-style red chilli sauce
kecap manis


1To cook chicken, rub all over with sea salt and trim any excess chicken fat from cavity, reserving fat. Fill a stock pot large enough to fit chicken in with water. Add ginger, garlic, pandan leaves and spring onions. Bring to the boil over high heat then add chicken, making sure there is enough water to just cover chicken. Bring back to the boil over a high heat, skimming any foam off that comes to the surface with a slotted spoon. Lower heat so the water is just simmering and cook for a further 45 minutes. Turn heat off and let chicken sit in hot stock for 20 minutes.

2 While chicken is cooking, prepare rice.Heat vegetable oil and reserved chicken fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. When chicken fat has dissolved, add garlic and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Add rice and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes. Add pandan leaves, some sea salt and chicken stock. Stir mixture well then bring to the boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until rice has absorbed almost all the liquid. Turn heat off and allow to rest before serving. Just before serving, fluff rice up with a fork.

3Transfer chicken carefully to a large bowl of iced cold water for 5 minutes before transferring to a chopping board.

4To make ginger sauce, combine ginger, garlic and groundnut oil in a bowl. Add enough hot chicken stock to make a smooth, wet paste. Season with sea salt and cover with cling film until ready to use.

5To serve, slice chicken into pieces and place on a large serving platter. Drizzle with sesame oil and light soy sauce. Garnish with cucumber slices and spring onions. Sprinkle with coriander sprigs. Serve chicken with individual serving bowls of chicken stock seasoned with salt and white pepper, bowls of rice and dipping sauces of ginger sauce, chilli sauce and kecap manis.

Wine Match

2017 Harewood Estate Porongurup Riesling,
Great Southern, A$22

Every Singaporean food outlet has a version of this traditional Hainanese dish with the locals often opting for a (freezing cold) Singha beer. A crisp lager is a worthy match but for a vinous alternative, try this crunchy, bright Porongurup riesling. The Harewood’s delicate flavours are in tune with those of the gently poached chicken. The wine’s refreshing lime juice tang and laser-like acidity are the perfect foil for the hot chilli sauce. Make sure you have two bottles chilled.