Chicken Rice

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Chinese Heritage Cooking

Chinese Heritage Cooking

By Christopher Tan and Amy Van

Published 2018

  • About

Back on Hainan Island, a local breed of fowl called wen chang chicken is used for this dish. Hainanese cooks favour hens of a certain age: not so young that their flesh is bland, but not so old and tired from egg-laying that their meat is tough. Ideally, the meat should have a slight resilience to it and both meat and fat must be flavourful. Kampong chickens and capons both work well.


  • Chicken 1, large, about 1.4–1.6 kg (3 lb 1⅔ oz–3 lb 9 oz), cleaned
  • Water 2.5 litres (80 fl oz / 10 cups)
  • Ginger 2 thick slices
  • Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and left whole
  • Sesame oil 1 Tbsp


  • Long-grain rice 600 g (1 lb 5ⅱ oz), washed until water runs clear and drained
  • Garlic 8 cloves, peeled and minced
  • Old ginger 35 g ( oz), peeled and minced
  • Shallots 5, peeled and minced
  • Pandan leaves 2, washed and tied into a knot
  • Salt ½ tsp

Chilli Sauce

  • Large red chillies 8
  • Red bird’s eye chillies to taste
  • Garlic 4 cloves, peeled and chopped
  • Young ginger 25 g ( oz), peeled and chopped
  • Sugar to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly-squeezed calamansi lime juice 1 Tbsp

Ginger Sauce

  • Old ginger 100 g ( oz), peeled and chopped
  • Cooking oil 1 Tbsp
  • Water 2 tsp
  • Sesame oil ½ tsp
  • Salt ¼ tsp or to taste


  • Thick black soy sauce
  • Coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • Chopped spring onion (scallion)
  • Cucumber slices
  • Tomato slices


  1. Cut off excess skin and fat from chicken and reserve these.
  2. Bring water, ginger and garlic to a rolling boil in a deep pot. Gently submerge chicken in water. Bring to a vigorous simmer and cook, partially covered, for 12 minutes. Cover tightly, turn off the heat and let stand undisturbed for 20–25 minutes. Remove chicken from the hot stock. Rub skin all over with sesame oil and set aside.
  3. Prepare rice. Spread washed rice out on a tray and let stand until dry.
  4. Finely chop reserved chicken fat and skin; combine with 2 Tbsp water in a non-stick pan and cook over medium-low heat for 10–15 minutes until fat has rendered. Strain fat and make up to 100 ml ( fl oz) with cooking oil, if necessary. Heat chicken fat in a wok over medium heat. When hot, add garlic, old ginger and shallots and fry for 1–2 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add rice and stir-fry for about 2 minutes until grains turn translucent.
  5. Transfer rice to a pot, add pandan leaves, salt and 700 ml (23⅓ fl oz) chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover tightly and let cook for 15 minutes until rice is only just tender. Turn off heat and let pot stand, covered, for 15–20 minutes to complete cooking.
  6. Combine all ingredients for chilli sauce in a blender and process until fine. Add 2–3 Tbsp hot chicken stock and blend until sauce is a bright orange.
  7. Blend all ingredients for ginger sauce with 1 Tbsp hot stock to a fine paste.
  8. To serve, fluff cooked rice with chopsticks; adjust salt to your taste. Chop chicken into serving pieces and serve with rice, sauces and garnishes. Serve any remaining hot stock as soup, sprinkled with chopped spring onion.