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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hainanese chicken (Ga Hai Nam) - An iconic Singapore hawker dish.

Succulent and tender chicken, poached in an aromatic stock. Dressed with seasoned soya sauce, ginger, shallots and coriander. An incredible combination of flavours and texture, truly  making this dish one of the most iconic, delicious and pleasurable  thing to eat.

Originated in the Hainan Provence of China, this humble chicken and rice dish quickly gain popularity throughout Asia. Particularly in Singapore, adopting it  as one their nation dishes. I am sure many of you have eaten Hainanese chicken rice by now. Quick, satisfying and relatively cheap, it's a specialty found in many food courts throughout Asia.

One one the finest example of  Hainanese chicken rice I have tasted was in Hong Kong. Flavourful, succulent and tender, the chicken was cooked to perfection. I was told it was free range, specially raised for the purpose of this particular dish. It was unbelievable! So good that, well had it practically everyday while we were there and even had it takeaway before leaving for the airport. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

Making Hainanese chicken is not too difficult, in fact it's probably one of the easy cooking method you'll ever learn for a delicious and satisfying meal. The key factors are, quality of the chicken- free range is best, the balance of flavours and  timing. Coming home from work these days with half an hour or so to whip up a decent meal for the family,  it's a challenge many of us face each day. With this recipe and handful of simple ingredients. You'll  have a incredibly delicious and not to mention healthy meal on the table in no time.

We often serve this dish with plain steam rice, but if you like to have chicken rice. Simply sauté a little garlic with shallots, add to the rice and cook with the chicken poaching stock instead of water.  Enjoy with a side of cucumber and tomatoes.

Hainanese chicken- by Foodaffairvietnam


1 chicken- free range
1 onion, peeled whole
1 large ginger
6 whole shallots
4 whole coriander
1 chilli, optional

 Soya dressing 

2  tbsp Kikkaman soya sauce
2 tbsp Cooking wine
4 tbsp Poaching liquid
1 tbsp Sugar
dash sesame oil


1. Bring a mediums size pot of water to the boil. Ensure that there is enough water to submerge the chicken. Add the onion, ginger, shallot (white portion of the stem only), coriander (root portion only).
2. Meanwhile, clean the chicken and once water comes to boil. Fully submerge the chicken and close lid.
3. Let it boil for 5 minutes and turn off heat and allow to chicken to steep for 25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the seasoned soya dressing by combining soya, cooking wine, sugar and water. Bring to the boil and allow alcohol to burn off (Should only take 30 seconds on the boil). Add couple drops of sesame oil.
5. Roughly cut the remaining shallots and coriander. Finely julianne the ginger and set aside for garnishing.
6. When the chickenwith cooked, remove from pot and shock in cold water bath for couple of minutes.
7. Remove, drain and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
8. To serve, cut chicken into large pieces and transfer onto large serving plate. Garnish with ginger, shallots and coriander. Dressed with generous splash of soya dressing. Enjoy with some white rice and refreshing sliced cucumber.  


  1. I love this dish, thank you for the recipe :)

    1. Thanks Thuy, I really love this dish too. You should give it a go, it's deliciously simple to make. I appreciate you dropping by, all the best.

  2. Nobody can reject the info you have given in the blogs, this is actually a great work.
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