Ayam Hainan: Hainanese Chicken Rice

A plate of Nasi Ayam Hainan with a small bowl of chilli sauce.

Ayam Hainan

Ayam Hainan is a whole meal consisting of succulent chicken with fluffy-tasty rice and heartwarming soup. It is also known as Hainanese chicken rice or simply chicken rice. 

It is a southern Chinese (Hainan) food introduced by Hainanese immigrants in Southeast Asia regions. 

Hence, this dish is very popular in the countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. 

Although it is well-known In Indonesia, in the past, you could only get the Ayam Hainan at Chinatown or restaurants that serve Chinese or continental foods. So it used to be something that you could not find easily. 

Ayam Hainan - Hainanese Chicken rice.

It’s only now that more Indonesians outside the Chinatown area know about this chicken and rice. Especially with the free-flow information on the internet, this dish has become one of the sought-after Chinese-Indonesian foods. 

But it’s not surprising. Because this dish offers a satisfying taste despite its simplicity. 

And a set of Nasi Ayam Hainan will give everything you need in a meal, i.e. protein in the chicken, carbs in its rice, and all other goodness in the soup. 

You won’t need anything else but a spoon or two of garlicky ginger-chilli sauce. 

The recipe I’m sharing here is based on Nila Chandra’s Nasi Ayam Hainan. Nila Chandra was an Indonesian culinary expert who used to teach cooking and baking. 

And I happen to have her classic cookbook “Hidangan Populer”, which means popular gourmet. It is from this book, I learned how to cook Hainanese chicken rice.

However, I tweaked the recipe. Unlike Chandra, I don’t use a stock cube for the soup. I use homemade chicken stock instead.  

Things you need to make it

There are 12 things you have to prepare for this chicken and rice recipe.

  1. Chicken.
  2. Garlic.
  3. Ginger
  4. Light soy sauce.
  5. Salted butter.
  6. Rice.
  7. Onion.
  8. Spring onion.
  9. Stock powder (optional).
  10. Chicken stock.
  11. Salt.
  12. Water.

When it comes to stock powder, feel free to use any chicken or vegetable stock powder that you like. I personally like the vegan Marigold bouillon powder. 

However, if you make your own chicken stock, I’d say you make enough for the rice as well. So you don’t have to use any stock powder. Promise the flavour will be so tasty. 

If you need any recipe to make simple chicken stock that is good for this Ayam Hainan, you can check my post on how to make clear Chicken Stock.

How to make chicken rice the easy way

I understand that the original method of cooking Hainanese chicken is by poaching the chicken in the rice. But, in this recipe, we use the method of steaming the chicken.

To cook the chicken:

So, you marinate the chicken with soy sauce, ginger and garlic paste, and salt. If possible, leave it to marinate for at least an hour. Then place the chicken on a steamer container and steam it.

To make the rice:

Wash and rinse the rice. Then fry the garlic in butter before adding the rice to it. Stir it until all rice grains are covered with garlicky butter, and pour the water into it. 

Here, you can use chicken stock instead. If you do so, you don’t need any stock powder. But if you use water, adding 2 teaspoons of good quality chicken or vegetable stock powder is recommended. 

Cook the rice until all the liquid evaporates. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to let the rice cook at low heat until steam comes out. If you want, you can steam the rice in a steamer after all the liquid has gone.

You can also cook the rice in a rice cooker or instant pot. Just put the rice that has already been stirred in the garlicky butter into the rice cooker or Instant Pot. Then add the water and stock powder, or just the chicken stock. Set the appliance according to its manual and let it cook the rice to its perfection.

To make the soup: 

Stir fry the onion and spring onion in butter, then pour in the chicken stock. Boil and simmer until the soup is piping hot.  

Nasi Ayam Hainan with a bowl of soup, chilli sauce and spring onion slices in a small bowl.

Top tips to make mouthwatering Nasi Ayam Hainan 

  • Try to marinate the chicken as long as you can. If you’re in a hurry, you can pierce the poultry meat with a skewer or a fork all over it and add marinade to it. Let it stand for about 15-20 minutes before steaming the chicken. You can do so while you get on preparing other stuff.
  • Cooking chicken can be tricky as it tends to be bland. And if you overcook it, the poultry will taste nothing but like a sponge or cardboard. So keep an eye on the chicken when it’s steaming. Generally, it takes approximately 20 minutes for a chicken cut into small pieces to steam through and be fully cooked.  

Storing Matter

This Ayam Hainan is a good keeper for your meal during the week. You can cook it on the weekend and keep it in the fridge. It keeps well for up to 4-5 days. Ideally, you reheat it in a steamer before serving. But, you can always microwave it if that’s more convenient for you.

If you want to, you can freeze this Hainanese chicken and rice (and soup). Keep them in separate food containers and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. 

Take them out of the freezer the night before serving and leave them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat them until they are piping hot. 

Once they are thawed, eat them within 3 days, and you must not refreeze them. 

More chicken recipes of Indonesian food

Thank you for checking out this Ayam Hainan recipe. Hope you’ll soon try it. When you do, please share what you think about it in the comments below (leave a reply box). I’ll really appreciate it.

You can also check out my other chicken recipes of Indonesian food that you may love.

Last but not least, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest. To sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Take care and all the best.

Yield: 5 portions

Ayam Hainan: Hainanese Chicken Rice

A plate of Nasi Ayam Hainan with a small bowl of chilli sauce.

Ayam Hainan is a whole meal consisting of succulent chicken with fluffy-tasty rice and heartwarming soup. It is also known as Hainanese chicken rice or simply chicken rice.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the chicken:
  • 1 baby chicken (approx. 1 kg/ 2.02 lbs), cut into pieces.
  • 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce.
  • 3 cloves garlic, grind into a paste.
  • ½ inch ginger, grind into a paste.
  • ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • For the rice:
  • 2 cups/ 400 gr/ 0.88 lbs rice.
  • 3 tablespoons of butter.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced.
  • 3 cups/ 0.75 ltr/ 26.4 fl.oz water.
  • 2 teaspoons of stock powder (see the note).
  • For the soup:
  • 1 tablespoon of butter.
  • 6 cups/ 1.5 litre/ 50.72 fl.oz chicken stock.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced.
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced.
  • For the chilli sauce:
  • 10 red chillies.
  • ½ inch ginger.
  • 1 clove garlic.
  • ½ teaspoon of salt, or according to taste.
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon of butter.

Instructions

For the chicken:

  1. Clean and prep the chicken.
  2. Place the light soy sauce, ginger paste, and garlic paste in a small bowl. Then rub the chicken with this soy sauce mixture. Try to make sure all the pieces are covered well with the marinade. Leave it to marinate while you get on with the rice.
  3. When it’s time to cook the chicken, place it on a steamer plate and steam the chicken until it is fully cooked. It takes approximately 20-30 minutes to steam-cook at medium-high heat. 

For the rice:

  1. Wash, rinse and soak the rice.
  2. Melt the butter in a cooking pan and put the sliced garlic to it. Fry the garlic until it releases the aroma.
  3. Drain the rice and add it to the garlic. Stir fry the rice for a minute or two before adding water and chicken stock powder to it.
  4. Cook the rice until all the liquid evaporates and steams it until the rice is fully cooked.

For the soup:

  1. Heat the butter until melted, then add sliced onions to it. Fry the onion until it turns translucent and releases a delicious aroma.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock to the onions and add the salt in. Let it cook until it reaches boiling point. Then lower the heat and let it simmer for about minutes. 

For the chilli sauce:

  1. Using a pestle and mortar or a food processor, pound the chillies, garlic, ginger, sugar and salt into a paste. 
  2. Heat the butter in a small saucepan and cook the chilli paste in it. Add 1⁄4 cup of water and let it simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Check the taste. Add the salt and/ or sugar if needed.

How to serve:

  1. Put the rice on a plate and arrange a few chicken pieces aside. Place some soup in a bowl and some chilli sauce in a small bowl.

Notes

  • You can omit the stock powder for the rice. Use the homemade chicken stock and add 1 teaspoon of salt to it. 

Nutrition Information

Yield

5

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 1716Total Fat 64gSaturated Fat 21gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 37gCholesterol 172mgSodium 7259mgCarbohydrates 170gFiber 3gSugar 65gProtein 109g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

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