Hainanese ‘chicken’ rice


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Jackfruit and Blue Ginger

Jackfruit and Blue Ginger

By Sasha Gill

Published 2019

  • About

There is something quite beautiful about the simplicity of this dish, widely considered the national dish of Singapore.

Use tamari in place of soy sauce, and two blocks of well-pressed tofu instead of seitan ‘chicken’.

Prep time: 50 minutes (plus marinating time)
Cooking time: 50 minutes


  • 2 tofu puffs
  • 1 quantity seitan ‘chicken’
  • cups (300 g) long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pandan leaf, knotted (or ½ lemongrass stalk, bruised)
  • 2.5 cm ginger, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 5 cm ginger, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced


  • 2 teaspoons agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon molasses
  • 5 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • pinch of white pepper


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), green parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon chicken-style seasoning or nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Hainanese chilli sauce

  • 2 large red chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


Cut along the sides of the tofu puffs and roll each one flat to form a long sheet of tofu skin. Place a flattened tofu puff on top of each seitan log and stretch it across to cover the top, using toothpicks to hold it in place and form a ‘skin’ on your seitan chicken. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the seitan ‘chicken’, mixing well. Cover and chill for 1 hour, flipping it over halfway through.

Preheat the oven to 175°C and oil a small baking tray. Transfer the marinated ‘chicken’ onto the tray and brush with some of the marinade from the bowl, reserving about 1 tablespoon for a final baste. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, brush on the remaining marinade and bake for a further 15 minutes.

For the soup, put the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and fry the garlic, ginger and spring onion until fragrant, about 2–3 minutes. Pour in 6 cups (1.5 litres) water, then add the mushrooms, chicken-style seasoning and salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, to infuse the soup with all the lovely umami flavours from the shiitakes. Discard the mushrooms, then pour all but 2 cups (500 ml) of the soup into a heatproof jug or bowl and reserve for later.

Add the rice to the remaining soup in the pan, along with the pandan leaf and grated ginger. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for a further 12–15 minutes, until the rice is tender and cooked.

Meanwhile, dissolve the sugar in 1 tablespoon hot water, then mix in the soy sauce to make a dipping sauce. Simmer the sliced ginger in a little water for 5 minutes to soften. Drain and blitz in a blender, adding a splash of water if necessary, to make a ginger sauce.

To make the chilli sauce, put the chilli and garlic into a small saucepan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a small food processor or blender. Add the salt and lemon juice and blitz everything together.

To serve, brush the seitan ‘chicken’ with the sesame oil, then remove the toothpicks and slice. Place some sliced ‘chicken’ on each plate and add a large spoonful of rice, some of the sliced cucumber, ginger and chilli sauces, with a bowl of black dipping sauce on the side. Remember the extra soup you set aside? Serve that too, in little bowls, for slurping up in between mouthfuls of fragrant rice.