This is a simplified recipe, first explained in English, by this pretty Angel Wong, an American Chinese from Taiwan:
Hainanese Chicken is not from Hainan Island (China) but Singapore in the 1950s. The ‘Coolies’ (Chinese port laborers) who transferred heavy tons of spices/rices from the big ships docked at the Port of Singapore to the shores using ‘sampans’ (small Chinese boats) along the smelly Singapore river (no more smelly after 10 years of cleaning by Lee Kuan Yew), among them 2 Hainanese brothers (Mr. Mok 莫氏兄弟 of ‘Swee Kee’ Restaurant 瑞记鸡饭) invented this simple dish Hainanese Chicken Rice which becomes the Top #1 Signature Singapore Food.
The coolies “苦力” were the coastal southern provinces (Fujian aka Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew aka Chaozhou, Hainanese, Hakkah, …) Chinese immigrants (our grandfathers and fathers) evading the war lords & Japanese invasion during 1900s – 1950s. These illiterate coolies were ingenious to invent cheap but excellent dishes to provide energy for the harsh labor, among which are the famous dishes:
– Bakuteh 肉骨茶
– Yusheng 捞鱼生
– Char Kway Tiow 炒㷄条
– Hokkien Oyster Noodle 乌芭叶 福建蚵面 (disappeared since 1980s), replaced today by the ubiquitous Hokkien Sotong (squid) Prawn Noodle 福建苏东虾面 — 娘惹风味)
Cooked by my ‘sifu’ (teacher) 彭师傅 Pang using a Pressure Cooker in 4 minutes:
The following Hainanese Chicken Rice chef is charging a training fee of S$42,800 teaching you how to cook this Singapore Number 1 Signature dish and set up a business : 2 months of apprenticeship at his hawker stall and 1 year of consultancy. His first trainee was a former Singaporean lady World Champion of Bowling who launched a social enterprise by opening a Hainanese Chicken Rice Stall.
However you learn it free from below – except you need to practise to make perfect. Success goes to those who have the apperception (领悟性)。
How to cook Hainanese Chicken:
1.客家 白斬鸡 “三温暖” 熄火泡热水肉不老
1. How to make Nonya Acar
2. How to make Ginger Paste 姜泥:
Young ginger 80g
Salt 1/2 tsp 茶匙
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Chicken powder鸡精粉 1/2 tsp
Chicken soup 鸡汤 30 ml
Blend well all ingredients in a food processor. Ready to use.
3. How to make Chilli sauce :
Red chillies 100g
Chilli paid 10g
Lemon sauce 檸檬酱 60g
Rice vinegar 60 ml
Young ginger 60 g
Garlic cloves 50g
Salt 1 tsp
Chicken stock 50 ml
Blend well all ingredients in a food processor. Ready to use.
白斬雞腿: Chicken Thigh
♢ 3-times repeated “Sauna” 三温暖 : soak in boiling water, immediately bathe in iced water, repeat 3 times.
Reason: the meat will be tight (hot expand cold shrink 热胀冷缩), the skin will not loosen or drop off.
♢ Cook 5 minutes (smallest fire),
♢simmer 30 minutes (turn off fire).
♢Smooth skin: Dry the chicken in the air for 1 hour or so, before cutting.
Watch the Chicken cutting and the beautiful plate display (with Tomatoes):
如何剁全雞?: How to cut a Chicken using a kitchen knife
Note 1: The western-style chicken cutting using a Chef Knife:
Note 2: 海南雞分半鐘拆骨起肉 : 1.5 minute Boneless Chicken Cutting
How to cook the Hainanese Chicken Rice (at “Boon Tong Kee” 文东记 Restaurant @ Balestier Road):
Recipe of Hainanese Chicken with Rice:
This is the “French Creamy Chicken Rice” served in the Parisian University Restaurants (Les Réstaurants Universitaires) once a month in the 80s.
The celebrated recipe below is from Michelin 3-star chef Georges Blanc of Bourg-en-Bresse and Vonnas:
1 Bresse Chicken (~ 1.8 kg)
Pepper and salt
8 tablespoons butter
1 onion, quartered
10 white mushrooms, quartered
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled, smashed
1 bouquet garni
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups heavy cream
1. Joint the chicken. Cut off wing tips and discard. Cut wings in two. Separate drumsticks from thighs. Cut through breastbone to obtain 2 fillets. Season the chicken pieces.
2. In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté chicken pieces over high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, garlic, and bouquet garni. When the chicken is well browned on all sides, about 15 mins altogether, add white wine to deglaze. Let wine reduce, then add cream. Cook over low heat 25-30 mins. Remove chicken and keep warm.
3. Strain sauce through a sieve. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Adjust seasoning.
4. Put chicken pieces on serving plates, and coat with wine/cream sauce. Serve with steamed rice.
Bresse Chicken: this lucky cock with 2 hens, are the best chicken breed in the world. The French protect them from export. Americans have their ‘imitation’‘Blue-Foot” chicken a close cousin of the Bresse.
In Singapore, I emulate this nostalgic student day’s favourite dish with the chicken cooked in Hainanese-style (more QQ 弹牙 or tender meat), add instant coating from the canned white mushroom cream (Campbell’s). Served with the fragrant Hainanese Chicken rice. I admit this is only 88.8 % close to the original French dish, but our Hainanese chicken is on par with the Bresse chicken.
[Source] French Country Cooking by Françoise Branget.
All recipes in this book are contributed by the deputies in the French Parliament of their French regions.
Available at most branches of the Singapore National Library (Ref Number: 641.5944)
This is the Top Food in Singapore invented by 2 Singaporean brothers (瑞记) in 1950s at Seah Street (Hainanese district).
It is a simple recipe but the real ‘kong-fu’ secret is the timing (火候) and steps. Observe the instructions (critical step to have iced water bath) strictly to get the tender QQ Hainanese Chicken. By ‘QQ’ I mean the meat is not too tough (over cooked), no blood (under cooked), and you taste the meat tenderness in every bite.
The chicken rice is cooked using the water boiled with the chicken. (Pandan leave is an option).
To avoid too oily in rice and soup, peal off the fat at the behind of chicken. Some people use the fat to fry the rice, before cooking in rice cooker, to increase fragrance (though not so healthy).
Garnish with cucumbers, tomatoes and 香菜 (Chinese coriander). Drop evenly few drops of sesame oil on the chicken meats after cut. Go to Youtube to learn the technique of cutting chicken for display on serving plate. See also Boneless chicken cut.
Of course, you can’t eat this dish without the dark soya sauce (老抽) and red chilli sauce (or you can get from China Town).
Every Singaporean student should know how to cook this National Signature Dish the “Hainanese Chicken Rice”. Practice makes perfect.
It took me many years to attain the QQ level by trials and errors 🙂
Below was my ‘masterpiece’: