Singaporean Hainanese Chicken Rice

Probably the best thing I ate in Singapore was the Hainanese chicken rice from Ah Tai at Maxwell Road Food Centre. And before you start thinking “Yes! I’ve heard of that place” no, that’s not the place hyped up by Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain. It’s the one three stalls along.

Oh, we tried to go to the famous stall. The Michelin guide warned us about the queue so we were ready. We joined it. And when we got to the front, they closed the hatch! Finished for the day!!

Hungry and a bit miffed, we wandered around Maxwell Road Food Court to see what else was on offer. We ended up coming full circle and heading to the remarkably similar looking Hainese chicken rice stall just three along from the revered Tian Tian. Turns out luck was on our side. You know why?

Tian Tian Singapore Chicken Rice

Tian Tian, the stall everyone loves…

Ah Tai, owned and run by the former head chef of Tian Tian just three stalls along!

Turns out that the head chef from Tian Tian fell out with the owners a few years back and decided to open his own stall selling chicken rice. Not only is he serving the same food, in a very similar looking space, he’s probably serving THE VERY FOOD Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay raved about so much. It was absolutely delicious! The chicken was moist and tender and despite looking plain, the rice was full of flavour. I also could not get enough of the ginger sauce.

So, who’s the winner now eh?

A recipe:

I loved chicken rice and we had it a few more times during our time in Singapore. In fact, it’s pretty much everywhere and is almost like their informal national dish. So, now that we’re home I’ve been trying to recreate it with varying success. This time I’ve cracked it. Granted this isn’t all cooked from fresh and yes, it involves a packet, but honestly, it’s proper tasty!

During this process, I tried a few different brands picked up from Asian supermarkets here in Bristol and I can honestly say that that this one is the best (even though it’s Thai and not Singaporean). Plus, it comes with a fiery ginger and chilli dipping sauce and the soup whereas some of the others come with just the rice seasoning.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

Ingredients serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts (really these should be skin on but they are very hard to find!)
  • 1 packet of Lobo Chicken Rice Set
  • 1/4 whole cucumber
  • 250ml rice (I use jasmine rice)

For the greens:

  • 250g choy sum, pak choi or bok choi
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce

Method:

This isn’t the method on the packet (which is in stilted English anyway) but after a couple of attempts using the oven, hob and now, the slow cooker. This has been the best one by far so unless you have a proper rice cooker, in which case, knock yourself out!

  • Thoroughly rinse your rice three or four times until the water runs a little clearer (though not completely).
  • Put your rice into the slow cooker and add water until it’s about 5 cm above the level of the rice.
  • Add the chicken rice seasoning and mix in.
  • Cook on high for 30 minutes and then add the chicken. Most of it will be submerged but the top will be out of the liquid. That’s ok. Season with salt and white pepper.
  • Cook for 1.5 hours on high, checking occasionally that there is enough liquid. Add a bit of water if needed.
  • Once the rice is cooked, turn the slow cooker off.
  • Add a splash of water to a wok and put the heat on high. Once hot, add the greens and stir fry for a couple of seconds. Add the oyster sauce and cook for a few minutes.
  • Mix up the soup by adding boiling water to the mix (very easy!).
  • Serve the chicken sliced on top of the rice with freshly sliced cucumber, the stir-fried greens and dipping sauce.

Eat the chicken and rice on a spoon with a dollop of that fiery dipping sauce and use the rice to mop up the juices with the greens. I served it on a sharing platter for an informal meal and we had the soup on the side. Enjoy!

Why not try one of these Singaporean-inspired recipes from some of my fellow food bloggers? 

21 Comments

  1. 20th July 2017 / 8:55 am

    Oh, this looks gorgeous. I love that you can make it in the slow cooker too so you can come home to it after work.

    • 20th July 2017 / 1:07 pm

      Thank you! It was pretty tasty. One day I’ll work out how to make the seasoning myself as opposed to a packet of course! ;-P

  2. 20th July 2017 / 9:15 am

    I love the research that went behind the scenes in this recipe! Tt looks totally delicious and anything that is made in a slow cooker gets my vote (so easy).

    • 20th July 2017 / 1:00 pm

      The problem with doing it in the oven was that the chicken was roasted rather than the soft, almost poached texture they have in this dish in Singapore! This was the best version by far and we’ll be eating it again soon!

  3. Flo
    20th July 2017 / 9:56 am

    Love a good Hainan chicken rice! I’m still looking for a good recipe for Singaporean turnip cake – the kind they serve at hawker food markets. Let me know if you come across one!

    • 20th July 2017 / 1:00 pm

      Oooh I don’t think I saw turnip cake! I’m intrigued now and will need to go and google that! 🙂

  4. 20th July 2017 / 11:18 am

    This looks super tasty, and I bet that dipping sauce would be good on loads of stuff!

    • 20th July 2017 / 1:03 pm

      The dipping sauce is the best bit and I don’t even care that it’s from a packet! Dave was basically eating it on a spoon… you know what he’s like! 😛

  5. 20th July 2017 / 12:41 pm

    I don’t really get super excited about a lot of South East Asian cuisine – I feel like I am definitley in the minority here! haha ..I just don’t love rice based dishes…but I did have a few stand out meals when I was in S.E.Asia. But this looks rather good! Not been to singapore yet but will make note of this place for when I do go! Thanks

    • 20th July 2017 / 1:05 pm

      OOh we’re the opposite as S.E Asian food is my favourite thing to eat! I go crazy for Japanese and Korean too. When you go to Singapore, maybe try the satay or stick to noodle dishes! There are some great ones to try!

  6. 20th July 2017 / 12:58 pm

    I’m actually vegan. However, I used to eat meat from time to time some years ago. I visited both Singapore and Hainan island. But I never came across Hainan chicken rice. In Singapore it can be tough to find food at a decent price…. I like your photography style!

    • 20th July 2017 / 1:01 pm

      Did you not? We saw it everywhere! How funny! Yes I agree re decent prices, Singapore is much more expensive than Malaysia. Stick to the hawker centres for reasonable prices!

  7. 20th July 2017 / 2:35 pm

    That’s too bad that they closed the hatch when you were so close! But then again you’ve had the chance to find Ah Tai! Now I want to find all the ingredients to try the recipe at home!!!

  8. 20th July 2017 / 3:00 pm

    We loved our trip to Singapore and the food. This reminds me that I can make this at home! Thanks for the recipe!

  9. 20th July 2017 / 3:30 pm

    That’s such a cool find that you discovered the other stall. It’s probably much better too with the former head chef.

  10. 20th July 2017 / 8:01 pm

    Om nom nom nom nom! Thanks for this, I love slow cooker recipes. This sounds perfect, as we just decided to stop eating red meat, and we are running out of vegetarian and chicken ideas.

  11. 21st July 2017 / 12:09 am

    wow it looks so good! I love to find new receipt to try like this, since for the moment I can’t go to SE Asia 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  12. 21st July 2017 / 10:55 am

    I’m not a great cook so finding an easy recipe us always a bonus. I clicked through to the packet but it says no one in Canada carries this particular brand. Do you have any other suggestions?

  13. 21st July 2017 / 5:21 pm

    It’s just the best when you stumble across a great eatery or ingredient. I much prefer this to going to the ‘recommended’ places – unless it’s someone who’s really in the know of course 🙂

  14. 23rd July 2017 / 7:04 am

    The photos are inviting me to taste it right now.

  15. 10th August 2017 / 10:52 pm

    I love chicken rice but have never tried to make it. I had it over in Singapore and it was delicious. I’ve tried it a few time here in the States, and it’s just not the same. I’d love to try making it to see if I can get close!

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