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Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice

It has been six months since I have returned to Singapore. Routines are back and busyness got the better of me. In the recent months, there was much talk about inflation and how much standard of living has increased in Singapore. From what I know, the cost of Big Mac is a benchmark across countries to measure standard of living. Well, I think to measure inflation and standard of living over time in Singapore would be a plate of chicken rice.

I remember that a plate of chicken rice during my younger days was priced at a humble $1.50. Over time, price has increased in steps of 50 cents and now the cost of a plate of chicken rice varies from $2.50 at hawker centres to $25 at hotels. So what makes a good plate of chicken rice? Some think it is the fragrant rice and others think it is the appetizing chili sauce. I think it is the smooth and tender chicken. Or perhaps it is all of the above?

Today, we had decided to invite my family over for chicken rice.

Once I shared with a friend in the states the variety of Singapore delicacies. As I mentioned that tourists love Singapore Hainanese Chicken rice, she looked puzzled and asked how would rice with chicken be possibility be a favourite. Linking to the South-east Asian origin, asian spices and herbs are essentials to a good plate of Chicken rice. I guessed one has to taste it to believe it!

The preparation is time-consuming as there are three parts to this sumptuous meal. As mentioned, chicken, rice and chili sauce. Are you ready?

Recipe (For 4 person)


A) Chicken

  • 1.5kg Whole chicken, cleaned and pat dry

  • 2-cm knob of ginger, bruised

  • 5 cloves of garlic, bruised

  • 3 stalks of spring onions, bruised

  • A pot of water

  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil


  1. Remove fats from lower end of the chicken and put aside. This will be used in the preparation of rice.

  2. Boil the pot of water.

  3. Put all the ingredients into boiling water. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

  4. Prepare a basin of iced water.

  5. When chicken is ready, remove the chicken from the pot and soak in iced water for 5 minutes. This step will stop the cooking process and tenderize the chicken.

  6. Remove from iced water and place on a plate.

  7. Rub the chicken with some sesame oil.

  8. Reserve the chicken stock for cooking of rice and chili sauce. It is very good as soup to accompany the chicken rice.

  9. When the chicken is cooled, chop the chicken into pieces on lay on a serving plate. Decorate with some coriander/ cilantro.

After soaking in ice-bath, the skin will be translucent and very smooth.

B) Rice

  • 3 cups of rice, washed and drained

  • Chicken fats from the chicken

  • 4 cups of Chicken stock from the preparation of chicken

  • Spice paste: 2cm ginger, 6 garlic cloves, 3 shallots

  • 2-cm knob of ginger, bruised

  • 5 cloves of garlic, bruised

  • 3 stalks of spring onions, bruised

  • 3 stalks of lemon grass, use only the bottom 2 inches, bruised

  • 2 large pandan leaves, tied into knob

  • 1/4 tsp Salt

  • 2 tbsp Cooking oil


  1. Make the spice paste by blending the ginger, garlic and shallots or pounding with mortar and pestle.

  1. In a heated wok, add cooking oil and chicken fats.

  1. Brown the chicken fats over low heat.

  2. Add in spice paste and the other ingredients except the rice and pandan leaves.

  3. Fry from 3 minutes or until fragrant.

  4. Add in the rice and pandan leaves.

  5. Fry to ensure the rice is well-covered with spice paste and oil.

  6. Add in 4 cups of chicken stock.

  7. Cover the wok and cook over low heat.

  8. After 10 minutes, stir the rice to prevent burnt bottom and check if the rice is done. Continue to cook if it is not ready.

  9. If it is done, transfer to a rice-cooker to keep warm.

C) Chili Sauce

  • 100g Fresh red chili

  • 5 Garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 cm knob of Ginger, peeled

  • 3 Shallots, peeled

  • 4 Cilantro stems

  • 1/4 cup of Chicken Stock

  • 1 tsp White vinegar

  • 2 tsp Sugar

  • 2 tsp Salt


  1. Make the chili paste by blending the ginger, garlic, shallots and cilantro stems or pounding with mortar and pestle.

  2. In a saucepan, cook the chili paste and add in the other ingredients.

  3. Let it simmer for 2 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat. Cool before serving.

To make it a complete meal, you may want to include some poached greens with oyster sauce, sliced cucumber and chicken soup with spring onions. Bon Appetite!

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