Succulent Poached Chicken with Aromatic Rice and Ginger-Garlic Chili Sauce

Hainanese Chicken Rice


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    4 to 6

    servings as part of multi-dish meal

Appears in

Hainanese chicken rice originated on the Chinese island of Hainan. It’s now claimed as a national treasure in both Malaysia and Singapore. In it, chicken is poached until just barely cooked through, and still extremely juicy. The luscious chicken, which attains a resilient (some would say “bouncy”) skin, is served atop “chickeny” steamed rice, accompanied by a sipping cup of the delicate cooking broth and a coarse garlic/ginger/chili sauce.

Its simplicity (poached chicken, rice, broth and a condiment) proves that “less is more,” since the combination of these elements creates a strikingly memorable flavor immersion.

The fat that makes the rice so luscious is skimmed from the top of the chicken poaching liquid. But any chicken fat will do, so if you wish to render fat from the cavity of the bird, go ahead and use it.


For Poaching the Chicken

  • 1 medium Whole chicken (3 to 4 lbs. or 1.4 to 1.9 kg.)., keep gizzard and neck, discard liver and heart or use for another recipe
  • 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 2-inch (5 cm.) piece Ginger, lightly smashed
  • 3 Scallions, lightly smashed


Make Broth and Poach Chicken

  1. Place rinsed chicken in 2-gallon (8 L.) pot, with just enough water to cover. Bring to a vigorous boil; lower to simmer. Skim off foam and impurities; simmer 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover tightly, and leave undisturbed at room temperature for 45 minutes (an instant-read thermometer should read 165°F / 74°C at the thickest part of the chicken).
  2. Carefully lift chicken from poaching liquid and plunge into a large container/pot/bowl of ice water. Leave in water for 15 minutes to stop cooking and firm up meat.
  3. Cut chicken into eight major parts—2 breast, 2 legs, two thighs, two wings, transfer to covered container and reserve at room temperature. Strain broth through very fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth lined sieve). Taste broth, and adjust seasoning with salt.

To Assemble Chicken Rice

  1. Arrange cucumbers on a platter.
  2. Leaving the bone in and skin on, hack chicken through bones into smaller pieces (trying to keep the precious skin intact). Cut breasts into 4 to 6 thick slices each; legs and thighs into 3 pieces each and wings in half. Arrange chicken atop cucumbers, and then spoon soy and sesame oil mixture over the chicken.
  3. Serve hot broth in small bowls. Serve each guest an individual portion of rice, accompanied by a dipping bowl of chili sauce. Guests help themselves to the chicken and cucumbers family style, and slowly sip the soup as an accompaniment.