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Chef K’s Hainanese chicken rice

March 18, 2011

For those of you who have not caught-on from previous posts,  Chef K is my husband. He’s not a professional chef but simply one of the best home chefs I know ( I can’t make him THE best as I think my MIL is pretty damn good too). Yes, it is one of the reasons I married him – so that I will be ‘fat fat white white’ (a Cantonese saying which roughly translates to being well fed). Seriously, for me, it was very important to marry a man who could cook well and who cared about food. I can’t imagine being the one responsible for cooking all our meals or not being able to share my food adventures with K. I reckon I’ve done well just looking at my ahem, ever-expanding waistline.

I had a craving for Hainanese chicken rice recently which just wouldn’t go away. I kept thinking back to the time I was in Penang in December when I had one of the island’s most famous chicken rice at Fatty Loh. The boiled chicken was smooth, fragrant and flavoursome. I have tried chicken rice at various places in London but can never, ever find the same quality of chicken and rice anywhere – and it’s ONLY boiled chicken! Well, there is certainly one place in London now that comes close to recreating that ‘chicken rice experience’ for me, right here at home!

Boiled chicken with homemade chilli sauce and flavouring sauce

For the chicken and soup

  • 8 pieces of free-range chicken thighs, fat trimmed off                   
  • ½ a cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 inch of ginger, sliced                                                   
  • 4 cloves of garlic, whole, unpeeled                                         
  • 2-3 stalks of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk of spring onion, finely sliced
  • ¾ of a chicken stock cube
  • 1.5-2 litres of water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pure sesame oil
  1. Place the chicken thighs in a large saucepan and fill with water, ensure there is approximately 2cm of water above the chicken. Add all other ingredients.
  2. Bring to boil, reduce to a rolling simmer and cook uncovered for 25 mins.
  3. After 15-20 mins, skim fat and scum off the top of the cooking liquid with a very fine sieve or spoon.
  4. At the end of 25 mins, transfer the chicken onto a shallow dish, rub the sesame oil on to the chicken then cover with aluminium foil and leave in a warm place to rest (I put it in the oven).
  5. Reserve half of the cooking stock for the rice and the other half for the soup.
  6. When the rice is ready (cooked as below), remove the bones from the chicken and slice each thigh into 5-6 pieces, check that the juices are running clear and the meat comes off the bone easily to ensure that the chicken is cooked through. Garnish with coriander and cucumber slices.
  7. Heat up the remaining cooking stock to make a side dish of clear soup when ready to serve your meal. Garnish with spring onions just before serving.

Tip: If the chicken is not cooked through, return to stock and simmer for another 5 -10 mins. 

For the rice

  • 3 cups of long grain Thai fragrant rice, rinsed                      
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbsp of cooking oil – rapeseed, sunflower or corn         
  • 1 tbsp of pure sesame oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated                          
  • Salt to season to taste
  1. Heat a non-stick saucepan or wok to medium heat, fry ginger for 3 mins but do not brown. Add garlic and fry for another 2-3 mins, again do not brown.
  2. Add rice, sesame oil and salt, then stir through to ensure that the ginger and garlic are distributed evenly through the rice.
  3. Transfer to a rice cooker, fill with stock, topping up with water if required. Cook rice as normal.

For the chilli sauce

  • 5 large red chillies, finely grated, deseed to reduce heat               
  • 1 tbsp of large lime
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, finely grated                                                    
  • 1 tbsp of granulated sugar
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely grated                                  
  • 50ml of water
  • Salt to season to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients and adjust to taste, this can be done in a food processor or using a hand held blender to achieve a better consistency.

For the flavouring sauce

  • 1 stalk of spring onion, finely sliced                                         
  • 1 tbsp of pure sesame oil
  • 80ml of light soya sauce                                                               
  • 1 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 80ml of water                                                                   
  • 1 tbsp of granulated sugar
  • ¼ chicken stock cube 
  1. On medium heat, fry the spring onions in cooking oil to flavour oil, do not brown spring onions. Remove from heat to cool for 5 mins, add remaining ingredients and return to heat to combine ingredients.
  2. Remove from heat to allow flavours to infuse, remove / sieve out spring onions just before serving. 

Chicken rice with some side vegetables

Yields 4 generous servings

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2011 8:52 AM

    Have you tried Uncle Lim’s in Croydon – people in the know seem to like it. I also liked it – but I cannot claim to be in the know.

    • March 24, 2011 9:59 AM

      Hi A. R. Baggs – no I’ve not tried Uncle Lim’s but have heard of it. I should try to check it out but think I’m a bit lazy to travel all the way to Croydon…

  2. Jessica permalink
    June 14, 2011 9:50 PM

    My chicken turned out to be pale looking, instead of slicky yellow like the ones in the picture. Any idea?

    • June 15, 2011 10:36 AM

      Hi Jessica – we used corn fed free range chicken there if I remember right (they’re a bit more yellow than normal). Also, rubbing some sesame oil on the chicken skin after you cook it gives it some colour. Hope the recipe worked for you and thanks for checking out the blog! 🙂

  3. J-P permalink
    July 29, 2012 5:44 PM

    Hello, looks delicious. Why do you add cucumber to cook the chicken? Is it for flavouring? Do you discard the cucumber after the chicken is cooked? Thanks.

    • July 30, 2012 2:21 AM

      Hi! Thanks for your comment. Apologies if the recipe is unclear but the cucumber slices are only for garnish.

  4. J-P permalink
    October 4, 2012 1:22 AM

    Ah ok, thank you. I just thought the cucumber is like for soup flavouring. Your chicken really looks delicious, better than restaurants!

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