Hainanese chicken rice is one of the greatest dishes in the world, beloved by almost everyone who tries it. It’s not too spicy, not too fancy, just universally loved comfort food that any palate can enjoy. It’s also one of the hardest dishes to find at a restaurant; even if you live in NYC or LA, there are only a handful of places specializing in Hainanese chicken rice at most, and decent ones even less. Thankfully though, Hainanese chicken rice is super easy to make at home.
Because it’s traditionally a street food, Hainanese chicken rice is made by cooking the rice and chicken separately, then serving on a platter along with multiple sauces, soup, and cucumbers. It’s done this way because when serving hundreds of customers, separating out the components and cooking them separately means you can make more at once. At home though, this one pot, one bowl version just makes sense, and it’s easily just as delicious as the best versions you’ll find.
How to make Hainanese Chicken Rice
At its heart, Hainanese chicken rice is rice that’s been lightly sautéed with aromatics and cooked in a chicken broth with green onions and ginger, then served with perfectly poached chicken and a variety of sauces. If you want to make it the right way, you cook the chicken first with green onions and ginger, then use the resulting broth to make the rice.
Of course, every family tweaks the recipe to their own liking, and we’re no different. In all the years we’ve made it, our (not-so-uncommon) family trick is to sauté the rice in chicken fat for extra chicken-y goodness. This makes the rice glossy and rich, and irresistibly good. We also serve ours with green onion oil instead of the usual ginger-garlic sauce.
What is Bibimbap?
Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish which is essentially a bowl of rice with vegetables and meat and gochujang (a fermented chili sauce). The whole thing is presented as a beautiful, composed bowl, then mixed at the table before eating. If the whole thing is presented in a hot stone bowl and you get crispy rice at the bottom, that’s dolsot bibimbap. Both versions are utterly delicious.
We’re calling the way we serve this Hainanese chicken rice “bibimbap-style” because it ticks all the marks of a good bibimbap: a warm rice bowl topped with cold veg, bite-sized chunks of meat (chicken) and topped with an egg and chili sauce. It’s truly the best way to eat Hainanese chicken rice because every bite is a perfect bite of rice, chicken, veg, and sauce. Especially if you’re hungry, you can spoon in the goodness as fast as possible without messing around with multiple uten