Hainan Chicken Rice, Thai style

I love cooking stuff that has lots and lots of ingredients. Most of my favourite recipes require a large amount of spices, herbs, and seasoning.

But they’re worth it.

This is my version of Hainan chicken rice, and it’s Thai style. When you order Hainan chicken rice in other Asian countries they come with 3 colourful dipping sauces – chilli sauce, ginger & spring onion oil, and thick sweet soy sauce. In Thailand you only get one kind – it’s brown with chunks of ginger, garlic, and chilli. It’s amazing.


Serves 4-6


  • 6 chicken thighs, with bone & skin
  • 5 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 5 slices ginger, 0.5cm thick, bruised
  • 5 coriander roots, bruised
  • 1 medium onion, cut into big chunks
  • 1 small carrot, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 sping onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 10 ice cubes

Sesame soy sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce


  • 4 Tablespoons chicken oil, rendered from excess chicken fat
  • 10 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 10 slices ginger, 0.5cm thick, bruised
  • 5 coriander roots, bruised
  • 2 cups Thai jasmine rice
  • 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock from cooking the chicken (or 1.5 cups stock per 1 cup rice)
  • 1 pandan leaf, cut into 2 inch pieces

Dipping sauce

  • 6 Tablespoons soy bean paste
  • 4 Tablespoons sweet dark soy sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 3 Tablepoons garlic, pounded
  • 3 Tablespoons ginger, pounded
  • Red chillis, finely chopped or pounded

On the side

  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Coriander leaves

Chicken Oil

  1. Trim off excess chicken skin & fat
  2. Heat these trimmings in a small pan on medium heat
  3. Heat until you get 4 Tablespoons of rendered fat. Turn off heat.

Chicken & Chicken Stock

  1. Put in the pot chicken + garlic + ginger + coriander roots + pandan leaves + salt + soy sauce + lots of water
  2. Bring to boil, then turn down the heat and keep on simmer for 45 mins. Skim the fat/gunk floating on the surface from time to time. Alternatively cook the chicken in pressure cooker for 10 mins.
  3. Make sesame soy sauce by mixing together sesame oil + soy sauce
  4. Prepare a bowl of iced water
  5. When the chicken is cooked, take out each chicken thigh and put it in the iced water for 10 seconds. This will stop the chicken from cooking any further, and will make the meat firmer.
  6. Take chicken out from icy bath. Brush with sesame soy sauce.
  7. Pour soup through a sieve. Discard the cooked garlic, ginger, etc. We will use this chicken stock to cook the rice.


  1. Wash rice 3 times. Drain.
  2. Heat chicken oil in a pan on low heat. Add garlic + ginger + coriander roots. Fry until fragrant.
  3. Add rice + soy sauce. Stir-fry this on low flame for 1 minute, making sure all the grains are coated with oil & sauce
  4. Add chicken stock + pandan leaf pieces. Mix well. Turn off heat.
  5. Cook this in the rice cooker
  6. When the rice cooker tells you it’s done – DO NOT OPEN THE LID. Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
  7. Fluff the rice gently. Try not to break too many grains.

Dipping sauce
Mix all. Taste. Season to your taste. It should be salty, sweet, vinegary, and spicy.

To serve:

  • Scoop rice into ramekin, pack it in. Turn up-side-down onto the plate
  • Put a piece (or two) of chicken, and cucumber slices
  • Put a few sprigs of coriander leaves on top
  • Serve with dipping sauce