Hainan Chicken

Photo by Ian Fenn/flickr

Serves 6.


1 x 1.5 kg/3 lb roasting chicken
2 or 3 sprigs fresh coriander
2 or 3 sprigs celery leaves
3 spring onions (scallions), chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons salt

For the rice
500 g/1 lb long grain rice
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
1 tablespoon sliced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 onion, finely sliced
For the dipping sauces
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon ground fresh chilli or sambal ulek
4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sliced hot red chilli


Remove excess fat from cavity of chicken. Cut off and discard the tail including the two fat glands on either side, also the wing tips. Rinse and dry the bird with paper towels, then rub inside and out with salt.

In a saucepan just large enough to hold the chicken put 8-10 cups of water, the coriander, celery, spring onions, peppercorns and salt. Bring to the boil, gently lower chicken into pan with breast downwards. When water returns to the boil, reduce heat so that it just simmers. Cover pan tightly and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow chicken to finish cooking in the stored heat for 40 minutes without uncovering the pan.

Meanwhile, wash rice and leave to drain for 1 hour. In a pan with heavy base and well-fitting lid heat both kinds of oil and fry the garlic, ginger and onion over low heat, stirring and letting them become soft but not brown. Remove a tablespoon of the flavoured oil and set aside for one of the dipping sauces.

Add rice to the pan and fry, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes until all the grains are coated with oil. Measure 4 cups of the stock from cooking the chicken and add to the pan. Bring quickly to the boil, stir in 2 teaspoons salt and cover pan with lid. Lower heat and cook very gently for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes longer.

Take chicken from stock and cut into bite-sized pieces. Serve chicken with the following dipping sauces and the well flavoured rice. Strain the stock and serve as a soup.

Sauces: For one sauce combine the reserved oil, ginger and ground fresh chilli or sambal ulek. For the second sauce, combine soy sauce with sliced chilli.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)