Hainanese Poached Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

My Street Food Kitchen

My Street Food Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2015

  • About

This recipe for poached chicken was packed in many suitcases when it left the Chinese island of Hainan. Since then it has made its way to Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand. It’s one of the most popular street foods in the world and it’s not fried. The whole bird is only simmered for 10 minutes and then for the rest of the cooking time it is left in the hot water with the lid on, keeping the flesh pillow-soft and full of juices. The stock is then used to make garlic rice and it is served up with a ginger chilli sauce. Chicken and rice is the ultimate comfort food and this is indeed one of the best preparations.

Preparation: 15 Minutes, Plus 1 Hour Standing
Cooking: 20 Minutes


  • 1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) whole chicken, preferably corn-fed, free-range
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) basmati or other long-grain rice
  • 2 Lebanese (short) cucumbers, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 small handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves, coarsely chopped

Sweet soy and chilli dipping sauce

  • 2 thumb-size red chillies, seeded, finely chopped
  • 3 cm ( inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 50 ml ( fl oz) kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar


Put 4 litres (140 fl oz/16 cups) of water in a large stockpot or saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the whole chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and stand for 1 hour without removing the lid. It’s important you use the right size chicken for this. If it is bigger than 1.2 kg then increase the cooking time from 10 minutes to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the dipping sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Alternatively, you could pulse it in a food processor instead of chopping by hand. Set aside.

About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the garlic for 30 seconds or until golden. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute or until well coated in the oil. Add enough of the stock from the pan with the chicken to cover the rice by 1 cm (⅜ inch). Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat and leave covered while you cut the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the pan and discard any loose skin. Using kitchen scissors or a cleaver, cut the meat into large pieces. Arrange on a platter with the cucumber ribbons and coriander. Serve with the rice and dipping sauce.