International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Hoi Nam Gai Fan

Hoi Nam Gai Fan (Singaporean Hainanese chicken rice)

(Singaporean Hainanese chicken rice)

Image Creative Commons by avlxyz

Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

Hainanese chicken rice (海南鸡饭) is based on a dish that originated with the people of Hainan province in China. As the Hainanese emigrated to Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia, they brought along chicken rice and adapted it to local tastes.

To make chicken rice, you first gently poach a whole chicken and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Then you use the poaching broth to make both flavorful rice and and a nourishing soup.

Chicken rice is usually served with one or more accompanying sauces. Stir up a chili-garlic sauce to give a bracing foil to the mellow savor of the chicken. Other common condiments include fresh ginger sauce, soy sauce or kecap manis.

4 to 6 servings


For the Chicken

  • Whole chicken -- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Scallions, chopped into large pieces -- 4 or 5
  • Fresh ginger, sliced into thin rounds -- 4 or 5 slices
  • Garlic, crushed -- 3 or 4 cloves
  • Chicken stock -- 4 cups
  • Water -- to cover
  • Salt -- 2 teaspoons

For the Rice

  • Oil -- 2 tablespoons
  • Scallions, finely chopped -- 2
  • Garlic, minced -- 3 cloves
  • Long-grain rice -- 2 cups
  • Salt -- pinch

For the Chili Sauce

  • Sriracha chili-garlic sauce -- 1/4 cup
  • Lime juice -- from 1 lime, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • Ginger, minced -- 2 teaspoons
  • Sugar -- 2 teaspoons
  • Salt -- to taste

For the Soup

  • Scallions, sliced into thin rounds -- 2
  • Cilantro, stemmed and chopped -- 1/2 cup
  • Salt -- to taste


  1. Chicken: Rinse the chicken and trim it of excess fat. Place the scallions, ginger and garlic inside the cavity of the chicken. Add the chicken to a pot large enough to hold it, add the chicken stock and fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken by about 1 inch.
  2. Add the salt and bring the water to a boil over medium-high flame. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the chicken, turning once carefully, for 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is poaching, fill a large bowl half full with ice water. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it carefully from the broth and plunge it into the ice water. This stops the cooking and gives the skin a nice tight texture.
  4. Once the chicken has cooled, remove it to a cutting board, pat it dry, and cut it into serving pieces with a Chinese cleaver or large kitchen knife. Arrange the pieces nicely on a serving platter and set it aside while you prepare the rice.
  5. Rice: Heat the oil in a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the scallions and garlic and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Do not brown.
  6. Add about 3 cups of the broth from poaching the chicken and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  7. Chili Dipping Sauce: While the rice is cooking, mix the chili sauce ingredients with 1/4 cup of the remaining broth and adjust seasoning to taste with lime juice, sugar and salt. Serve the chili sauce separately in a small bowl.
  8. Soup: Reheat the remaining chicken broth and season it as needed with salt. Place a big pinch of scallions and cilantro into individual soup bowls, and then ladle hot broth into the bowls.
  9. Sprinke any remaining cilantro over the chicken. Serve the chicken at room temperature, along with the rice, chili sauce and soup as an entire meal. Chicken rice is usually served with a simple plate garnish of thinly sliced cucumber rounds and tomato wedges.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Variations

  • Ginger Sauce: To make a simple fresh ginger sauce, grate 2 tablespoons of fresh, peeled ginger and mix it with a little sesame or peanut oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Soy Dipping Sauce: Mix soy sauce or kecap manis with a little chicken broth and a drop or two of sesame oil.
  • Soup: To lightly thicken the soup, stir 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water, then whisk this slurry into the simmering soup broth.


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