Hainan Chicken Recipe: Master This Authentic Dish at Home

Hainan Chicken Recipe: Master This Authentic Dish at Home

Finding the perfect Hainan chicken recipe can be a game-changer for your culinary repertoire. This beloved dish, known for its tender poached chicken and fragrant rice, originates from Hainan Island in China. It has since become a favorite across Southeast Asia, offering a harmonious blend of flavors that delight the palate. Whether you're a seasoned cook or a kitchen novice, mastering this recipe will bring a taste of tradition to your table.

A Culinary Gem from Hainan Island

Hainanese chicken rice is a celebrated dish that originated on Hainan Island, China. This culinary masterpiece holds cultural significance, reflecting the rich heritage and traditions of Hainanese cuisine. Over time, it has gained popularity across Southeast Asia, with each region adding its unique twist to the classic recipe. The essence of Hainanese chicken rice lies in its simplicity and the harmonious blend of tender poached chicken and fragrant rice.

Additionally, if you cannot make Hainan chicken at home, you can also enjoy it at Savoy Kitchen Restaurant in Alhambra. This is an established restaurant famous for its Chinese-flavored dishes.

hainan chicken recipe

The famous Hainanese chicken dish featured in restaurants everywhere

Key Ingredients

To create the perfect Hainan chicken recipe, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • Chicken (preferably free-range)
  • Long-grain white rice (e.g., jasmine rice)
  • Aromatics (ginger, garlic, pandan leaves)
  • Chicken broth
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • (Optional) Chili sauce and ginger sauce for dipping

Step-by-Step Guide

Preparing the Chicken

Begin by cleaning and seasoning the chicken. Rub the skin with salt and rinse thoroughly. Tie the chicken to ensure even cooking.

Cooking the Rice

Next, prepare the rice. Rinse the long-grain white rice until the water runs clear. In a pot, heat some sesame oil and add sliced ginger and garlic. Stir in the rice and cook briefly to coat each grain with oil. Add chicken broth and pandan leaves, then cook until the rice is fluffy and aromatic.

Poaching the Chicken

Poach the seasoned chicken in simmering broth. This method ensures the chicken remains tender and absorbs the broth's flavors. Simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes, then transfer the chicken to an ice bath to firm up the skin and stop the cooking process.

Preparing the Dipping Sauces

While the chicken is poaching, prepare the dipping sauces. For the ginger sauce, combine finely grated ginger with hot oil and a pinch of salt. For the chili sauce, blend red chilies, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, and lime juice until smooth.

hainan chicken recipe

Elevate your Hainanese chicken with ginger and chili sauces

Assembling and Serving

To serve, chop the poached chicken into serving pieces. Plate the chicken over the cooked rice and garnish with fresh cucumber slices. Serve with the chili sauce and ginger sauce on the side, allowing each bite to be customized with the perfect amount of spice and flavor.

Tips and Variations for Hainan Chicken Recipe

Perfecting the Hainan chicken recipe involves mastering some key techniques and being open to delicious variations. Here are our expert recommendations to ensure your Hainanese chicken rice turns out perfectly every time.

Achieving Perfectly Poached Chicken

To master the Hainan chicken recipe, it's crucial to achieve perfectly poached chicken. Here are some expert tips:

  • Water Temperature Control: Maintain a consistent water temperature while poaching the chicken. The water should be kept at a gentle simmer, around 75-80°C (165-175°F). This ensures the chicken cooks evenly without becoming tough.
  • Resting the Chicken: Once the chicken is poached, let it rest. Transfer it to an ice bath immediately after poaching. This halts the cooking process and helps the chicken retain its moisture, resulting in juicy, tender meat.

hainan chicken recipe

Boiled chicken becomes firmer and more elastic after being soaked in ice water

Variations for Home Cooks

While the traditional Hainanese chicken rice is delicious on its own, there are several variations you can try to add a unique twist to your dish:

  • Using Different Types of Rice: Although jasmine rice is commonly used, you can experiment with other types such as black rice or brown rice for a healthier alternative.
  • Adding Other Aromatics: Enhance the flavor of your dish by incorporating additional aromatics like lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. These ingredients can add a fresh and zesty note to the rice and chicken.
  • Experimenting with Different Dipping Sauces: While the classic ginger sauce and chili sauce are traditional, don't hesitate to try other sauces. A tangy lime and cilantro sauce or a sweet soy and garlic dip can bring new flavors to your Hainan chicken recipe.

Read more: Chinese Cuisine: A Journey Of Cultural And Flavorful Fusion


In conclusion, the Hainan chicken recipe is more than just a meal; it's a culinary journey that brings the rich flavors of Hainanese cuisine into your home. By following our expert tips and trying out various delicious variations, you can create a dish that is both authentic and uniquely yours. Enjoy the delightful combination of tender chicken, aromatic rice, and flavorful dipping sauces that make Hainanese chicken rice a beloved classic.