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The Hainanese may constitute the smallest group of Chinese in Singapore (around five per cent of the Chinese population), yet this dish is so popular that it has grown to become one of Singapore’s unofficial signature dishes.

Best prepared using traditional Hainanese methods, the original recipe was brought to Singapore more than 60 years ago but has since been influenced to what it is today.

An ubiquitous sight in hawker centres across the country, it is also on the menu in many major restaurants and even hotel cafés.

Regardless of the location, they all offer the same dish at varying prices: bite-sized slices of chicken – or a whole chicken if you’re eating as a big group – served with fragrant rice.

Serves: 4 people

Cook time: 90 minutes

Prep time: 15 minutes


1.5kg chicken

1 tablespoon of chicken stock powder

1 spring onion, cut into 2cm pieces

4 slices of peeled fresh ginger

Coriander leaves, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber to serve

Coriander leaves, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber to serve

Iced water

125ml vegetable oil

6-8 finely chopped garlic cloves

800g long grain rice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon sesame oil



  1. Bring 2 litres of water and stock powder to the boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Stuff chicken with spring onion and ginger. Place, breast-down, in stock.
  3. Reduce heat to a rapid simmer and cook, covered, for 40 minutes or until just cooked through.
  4. Plunge the chicken into cold water for 1 minute to cool. This will also help create a springy texture.
  5. Set stock and chicken aside.


  1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant.
  2. Add rice grains and salt, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in enough reserved stock to sit 1cm over the rice.
  4. Bring to the boil and continue boiling until steam holes form in rice.
  5. Reduce heat, cover and steam for 30 minutes until cooked.
  6. Slice chicken and place on serving plates.
  7. Drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil, and top with coriander.
  8. Serve with the rice, tomatoes and cucumber.


Recipe courtesy Singapore Tourism Board.