Cooking Chicken Rice the Hainanese way

It is the school holidays and I have a bunch of kids who are forever hungry. So, I decided to be adventurous and try cooking chicken rice like my ancestors did.

I bought the largest, muscular chicken I can find. It costs me a whopping RM12 when normal chicken costs half of that. Not the little bump whom we call the bishop’s nose? You may want to remove that little yellow thingie because it stinks of chicken smell. But I left it there for the ‘chicken fragrance’.

Remove all the fats from the chicken. They can be easily torn off. Put it in a hot pan with some garlic and ginger slices and fry till the fats turn into oil. Yeah, very unhealthy. But then, this is how real chicken rice is cooked. Keep the oil, separate the ginger and garlic.

Next, find a pot big enough for your chicken. Put the chicken inside. Fill with water till almost covered the chicken. Put in the ginger and garlic. Bring to boil.

Now, this is where my crazy Hainanese male colleague taught me. Boil the chicken. When the water is already boiling, take the chicken out and dip into cold water. Then return the chicken into the pot. When the water boil again (same pot of water which will be the stock later on), take the chicken out and dipped into cold water again. He told me that this must be repeated for SEVEN TIMES!

By the second dipping, I got tired of playing spa treatment with the chicken and trying to avoid getting splashed with boiling soup.

I had heard of this dipping in water and reasoned that it is done to cool the surface of the chicken so that they are not overcooked while the inner side (which remains hot with the dipping) cook just nice.

The result? I got a half cooked chicken! LOL. But very tasty chicken rice. And a nice pot of chicken soup with cabbage. I had carved out the portion we can eat in on sitting and re-boil the chicken in the soup. As for the rest of the half-cooked chicken, I am soaking it in Chinese rice wine and hope they turned into drunken chicken tomorrow. (kept in fridge and will steam them tomorrow)
I shall post the recipe in the next post. It is tiring cooking chicken rice the authentic Hainanese way, you know? I am going to chicken rice stalls for my chicken rice next time.

Post Author: Lilian

Food, travel, recipes. Chinese Malaysian, blogger, photographer and writer.

10 thoughts on “Cooking Chicken Rice the Hainanese way


    (June 8, 2006 - 2:14 am)

    what hainanese friend teach u that wan?

    u’ll get the unhealthiest chicken rice ever….

    yes, the cooking of the chicken is there about. but no, doesn’t need up to 7 times dipping… u’ll need to poke the chicken with chopstick to see if it’s cooked. my family doesn’t do the cool-water treatment thingy actually… and from what i’ve tasted before, using ‘kampung’ chicken is the best.

    and for the rice, what u’ll need to do is to scoop the top oil level, a.k.a ‘chicken oil’ while you are cooking the chicken in the water and use that instead of pure water when you cook the rice. that’s sufficient, no need to do all that cooking… depending on your chicken’s fat ‘quality’, ur rice will turn out differently each time you cook. (note: your rice won’t turn out like what you bought at chicken rice stalls…) and, throw in pandan leave in your rice cooker as well. it will give your rice a nice fragrance.

    then u take out the chicken and chop it all up. and u’ll have the ‘pak cham kai’. and depending on what chicken u use, and the amount of fattiness of your chicken, the texture of your chicken meat will defer, and also, the chicken skin will differ in colour.

    and! you’ll need to prepare the dip sauce. u’ll need chilli and garlic. that’s the basic ingredient. and u’ll need a mortar and pestle to grind those ingredient up. if the sauce seem too dry, add some of those ‘chicken oil’

    p.s. the thais have somewhat brought hainanese chicken rice to a different level and it taste much better than the original hainanese chicken rice. go to haadtyai and try it out. 😉


    (June 8, 2006 - 7:32 am)

    haha i was about to ask whether you prepare the garlic-chilli dip or not… I heard that using “ooi bak kay” (yellow meat chicken – the cooked skin is yellower than the typical chicken sold in the market) will yield very tasty chicken rice wor… have your heard of that?


    (June 8, 2006 - 8:57 am)

    Eh, no recipe for the rice itself wan.. 🙁


    (June 8, 2006 - 10:30 am)

    LOL, this is the first time i heard of spa-treating the chick for 7 times. another method i heard of doing pak-cam-kai is to put the chicken into rigourously boiling stock for 5-10 minutes, turn off the fire and poach the chicken for 1 hour…does it work??

    10fT: yeah, the thai chicken rice is kinda nicer than the chinese’s! any idea how they do it?


    (June 8, 2006 - 10:43 am)

    Watch out if u go and eat chicken rice at the shops! The steamed/boiled chicken may have been hanging there for hours, all moist…and there’s always the danger of food poisoning! Opt for the roast chicken instead! In Sibu, we have one nice stall…one guy from Johore, but after the owner’s wife had learnt the trick of the trade, they sent the poor guy home and now she’s running the business herself(Yunno lah! Foochows!)! Still nice tho’…the chicken rice!


    (June 8, 2006 - 10:52 am)

    hmm i never see my mom do that before but i myself seen and heard of only this 2 way

    boil the water in a big pot then when the water start boiling put in the chicken and close it and turn off the fire – this how my mom does it

    2nd way is boil the water, put in the chicken, then when u feel, i dont know how feeling is done, but i think its time based, 20 -30 minutes kua, when u feel its cooked, take it out and rest in cool running water, this is to stop the cooking process …

    as with the rice part, my mom uses the chicken boiling water and scoop out the oil in there … then mix in some ginger and garlic oil …


    (June 8, 2006 - 12:32 pm)

    isn’t hainanese chicken rice the one using boy chicken no balls wan ar?

    domestic rat

    (June 8, 2006 - 2:12 pm)

    Hmm.. no need to render the spa treatment seven times. Once is enough. Boil the chicken, best if use kampung chicken or what they call the lao mu ji, for 3o minutes then dip in cold water for 15 mins. Then mix soya sauce with sesame oil, to pour over the chicken. I remember we got to use a different ginger to cook the chicken with, not the typical yellow ones. Cant rem the name. And use the chicken stock as loft commented to cook the rice, and add pandan leaves for added fragrance. Chicken rice is not complete without having the ginger dip. Grate the ginger and stir fry with some oil. That’s all.


    (June 8, 2006 - 4:23 pm)

    Kak liliaaaaannnn i miss youuu muah muah

    And nak makan nasi ayam sedapnyaaaa


    (June 8, 2006 - 8:32 pm)

    Yes, there is another condiments that is always prepared with the “pak cham kai” that comes from my father’s family side, which is the “Kong Sai” clan

    ok basically its made of fried ginger and garlic – save the oil then mix in with finely chopped daun bawang and daun ketumbar …

    then dip the chicken and savour …

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