Hainanese Chicken

Hainanese Chicken


Moist and flavorful poached chicken is served with a delicious aromatic rice. Hainanese chicken is typically served with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and an array of highly-flavorful condiments.
  • Serves: 3 to 5
  • Active Time: 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins
  • Views: 28,069
  • Success Rating: 100% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Preparing the Court Bouillon

• 1 stalk lemongrass
• 2 shallots
• 1" -inch piece ginger
• 6 cloves garlic
• 5 green onions
• 2 pandan leaves
• 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
• 1 tsp white, black or Szechuan peppercorns
• 1 tbsp kosher salt


Cut off the white and light green part of the lemongrass. To bring out more of the flavor, cut it in half and then smash it with the back of a knife. Peel and roughly chop the shallots and ginger. Smash the garlic. Cut the green onions into 3" -inch pieces. Tie the pandan leaves into knots.

To prepare the court bouillon, fill a pot, large enough to hold the chicken, with cold water, about 3 liters/quarts should do. You want to use just enough so that the chicken is fully covered, but not so much that the liquid becomes really diluted.

Next, place all of the ingredients into a pot and then add the rice wine vinegar, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Let simmer for about 20 minutes to allow the ingredients to infuse the water.

Step 2: Preparing the Chicken

• 1 whole chicken (approx. 3 lb)
• 5 cloves garlic
• 1" -inch piece ginger
• 5 green onions
• 1 tsp kosher salt


Cut off the excess fat from the chicken, reserving it for later, to cook the rice. This is optional, but it does add a very unique and authentic flavor to the rice.

Next, peel the ginger and garlic and roughly chop. Then stuff them into the cavity of the chicken, along with the green onions and salt.

Note: this can be done several hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to cook.

Step 3: Cooking the Chicken


Once the court bouillon is ready, place the chicken into the liquid and poach for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the chicken is just fully cooked through. This will depend on the size of chicken you have used and the temperature of the court bouillon.

Step 4: Checking Temperature of Court Bouillon


As the chicken cooks, it’s a good idea to every now and again check the temperature of the court bouillon. The proper poaching temperature should be between 160°F to 180°F (or 70°C to 85°C). Cooking the chicken at the proper poaching temperature will ensure it is moist and juicy.

Step 5: Making the Ginger-Garlic Sauce

• 2 tbsp sriracha sauce (Asian chili sauce)
• 1 tsp fresh ginger
• 1 clove garlic
• 1/2 fresh lime (juice only)
• 2 tbsp chicken broth
• pinch of kosher salt (or to taste)


To prepare the sauce, finely mince the ginger and garlic. Add these to the sriracha sauce, along with the lime juice, chicken broth and salt. Mix together.

Step 6: Checking the Chicken for Doneness


Carefully remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and check the thickest part of the thigh. If the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear, the chicken is done.

Step 7: Chilling the Chicken


As soon as the chicken has finished cooking place it directly into an ice bath. Make sure to reserve the cooking liquid. Turn the chicken over a few times to expose all of the chicken to the ice water. Let the chicken sit in the water for about 10 to 15 minutes until cool. This process gives the chicken and the skin a unique texture that is rather authentic to this dish.

Step 8: Cutting the Chicken


Remove the chicken from the ice water and discard the herbs from inside the cavity. Discard the ice water.

To prepare the chicken, remove the breast and legs and debone if desired. If serving the chicken in the next 1/2 hour or so, slice it into uniform pieces and leave it at room temperature; otherwise, cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.

If desired, you can save the bones and add them to the broth for added depth of flavor (see next step).

Step 9: Finishing the Broth

• 1 to 2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)


To finish the broth, add the reserved bones and continue to cook for another 30 minutes or so. In the meantime, you can jump ahead and start the rice (step 10).

Once the broth is done, strain and remove any excess fat. Then finish the broth with the fish sauce and taste for seasoning. If needed, add a bit more fish sauce until you reaches the desired saltiness.

Step 10: Starting the Rice Pilaf


To start the rice, heat the reserved chicken fat in a pot over medium heat. Once the fat has rendered down to about 2 tablespoons remove any excess pieces and discard. While the fat renders, go ahead and prepare the rest of the ingredients for cooking the rice.

Step 11: Finishing the Rice Pilaf

• 2 gloves garlic
• 2 inch piece ginger
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 cup Jasmine or long grain rice
• 2 cups of chicken broth (from Step 9)
• 1 pandan leaf


To finish the rice pilaf, finely mince the ginger and garlic and set aside. Once the fat has rendered, add the rice and fry for a few minutes until translucent and starting to toast a bit. Then add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or so, just to bring out their aroma. Then add the broth and pandan leaf. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes (or according to the cooking instructions on the package of rice).

Once cooked, do not disturb, simply remove from the heat and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

While the rice cooks, you can go ahead and finish the chicken.

Step 12: Finishing the Chicken

• 3 garlic cloves
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• ½ tsp brown sugar


Finely mince the garlic and place into a bowl. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce and brown sugar. Mix well. Brush or pour over the chicken.

Step 13: Serving the Dish

• 1 to 2 ripe tomatoes (or 1 basket grape tomatoes)
• 1/2 cucumber (or 4 Japanese cucumbers)
• 1/2 bunch cilantro
• 1/4 bunch mint (optional)


To serve the dish, first slice the tomatoes and cucumber. Make the sure the herbs are clean and spun dry. Then fluff the rice after it has rested.

Place a scoop of rice onto a plate (the rice is often pressed into a cup and then unmolded onto the plate). Next, place some of the chicken around the rice, followed by a few slices of tomato and cucumber. Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro and mint and serve with the ginger-garlic sauce.

If desired, serve with a bowl of the hot court bouillon/broth.

Chef's Notes

The first few times you make this dish, it may take a bit of time to make. Once you get used to it though, it becomes quicker and easier and the effort sure will pay off once you sit down to eat. The wonderful flavors in this dish are fresh and bold. This dish is served with many varieties of condiments: from sweet soy sauce-based sauces to super spicy, so feel free to experiment to suit your likes.

This dish is of Chinese origin; however, it is very popular in Singapore and Malaysia.


  • Faye L
    Faye L
    I have cooked this dish maybe twice, but have eaten this dish over 50 times, from hawker centre to high end restaurants. They are all good. I had tried another chicken very similar to this, called Drunken chicken. You marinate the cooked chicken in Maotai wine overnight and served it cold. It is very yummy too. I think you can used the rice wine, it will work, maybe cook off the liquor if you like before marinating. Faye
  • Julie N
    Julie N
    I want to make this recipe this weekend for dinner; my go to shop for exotic ingredients only has Pandan Leaves Extract, 70% leaf extract and 30% water. Do you think I can substitue the extract, and, if so, in what proportion? Never having used the leaves in real life, I cannot envision how to equate the the leaf to the extract. So sorry to bother. Should it just be a suggestion to the rice? Maybe I'll go to the boroughs and see if I can find it. Or if was originally a chinese dish in origin, I could go down to Chinatown to the asian market.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I suggest starting with just a bit and then see how it goes. Pandan is sort of like vanilla, so use the extract like you would vanilla extract. Pandan leaves are the best, if you can find them, but in a pinch the extract will do. Many Asian stores sell the leaves either frozen or fresh. Good luck Julie!
  • Julie N
    Julie N
    and found a place once highlighted on the FN a Bobby Flay segment, featuring asian products. The web site looks like the place sells frozen Pandan leaves in 3/4 packs. I should be able to go crosstown and down after my VO tomorrow afternoon. If I make it tomorrow, should I let the flavor develop overnight? It sounds to me like a yes answer. Thanks for your help Dawn. You are the BEST!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You can develop the flavor...but really you will still get a load of flavor from them just by adding them to dishes as is. A good tip is to poke the top of a leaf with a fork. Then use the fork to shred the leaf all the way down. Then tie the leaf in a knot and away you go. Here is a drill-down with a bit more info on Pandan Leaves Happy Cooking!
  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    After reading the text only recipe on Rouxbe for classic court bullion, I was wanting to try the poaching technique. I usually think of poaching -- especially a mild meat like chicken -- as bland. This recipe is the exact opposite. The lemongrass, pandan and green onions (I actually used Japanese Negi -- because that's what I had on hand) are so aromatic that my house smelled amazing clear through the following day. I poached 2 chickens in succession. The most challenging part was just making sure that the poaching liquid stayed withing the 170-180F temperature range. I found that if I didn't watch the pot closely that the temperature would rise, potentially leading to an emulsified broth and dried out chicken. The chicken rice was also incredibly flavorful and aromatic -- perhaps even more so because I cooked 2 birds in the same broth. I used some chicken fat that I reserved in the freezer from my last stock making venture. It worked well. I think the only thing I would change is to substitute brown jasmine rice for the white rice. Even though this is not traditional, I just prefer the texture of brown rice over the white. Thank you
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Well done, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing your success with us - we are thrilled that you are now a true believer in the power of poaching. It's a very unappreciated cooking technique. Your plan to prepare two chickens likely added significant additional depth to your poaching liquid - it's a key flavor builder in the final product. Cheers!
  • Franklin G
    Franklin G
    I had this dish on a couple recent business trips to Singapore and this recipe could easily pass for local fare. A couple "tips": (1) Because this chicken is simply poached and chilled, buy the best quality organic, farm raised chicken you can afford. It will be expensive, but worth the price. (2) Before poaching, thoroughly scrub the chicken all over with kosher salt being careful not to tear the skin. You're essentially exfoliating the skin and the end result will be very smooth and consistent with what you would find in Singapore. Thoroughly rinse the chicken and let set for a few minutes before poaching. (3) Don't skip out on enjoying the broth. Properly seasoned and simply garnished with scallions, it's the best "chicken soup" I've had in years. Great job as usual Rouxbe!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Sounds like great tips - thank you for sharing the salt scrub ideas as well. ~Ken

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