Singapore Must Eat: Hainanese Chicken Rice
Commonly found in Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is one of the many local delights that you must try when visiting the sunny island. This savory chicken and rice dish has its origins, from Hainan, China. Although this dish can be also found in Malaysia and Thailand, each country has its own distinct flavor. The Singapore version is influenced by the Hainanese and Cantonese style of cooking, combining culinary preferences in the Southeast Asia region.
How it is cooked
The chicken is prepared using traditional Hainanese methods, which in involves boiling an entire chicken along in pork and/or chicken stock, or the chicken may be boiled in water with garlic and ginger added. After the chicken has been cooked, it is dipped into ice water, to produce a gelatin like finish to the chicken’s skin.
As for the rice, it is cooked with chicken stock or the water in which was used to boil the chicken. This would result in glistening grains of rice that is flavorful, and slightly oily. The chicken is then chopped and is served with sliced cucumbers and an assortment of sauces ranging from sweet dark soy sauce, chilli, and pounded ginger. One way of eating the sauces is to mix all three (sweet dark soy sauce, chilli, and pounded ginger) and place them either on the rice, or dip in a piece of chicken. Another way would be to try the sauces individually.
Chicken Rice VariationsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Often considered as one of the “national dishes” of Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is often served at international expositions and global events abroad, and in Singaporean-run restaurants overseas. It is also one of the few local dishes served on Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights.
Hainanese chicken rice stalls are commonly found in Singapore: ranging from hot and crowded hawker centers and coffeeshops, to air-conditioned eateries, restaurants and “Kopitiams”. Some stalls may also offer side dishes such as chicken feet, vegatables, soup, tofu (fried beancurd) with sweet chilli sauce, and a whole lot more… Most stalls usually will have more than one variety of chicken such as roast chicken, and the usually “white chicken”.
Some examples of Hainanese chicken rice stalls which have established branch outlets or franchise are Boon Tong Kee, Tian Tian, Five Star Chicken Rice, and Loy Kee. Chatterbox coffeehouse at the Meritus Mandarin Singapore, in Orchard Road, is one place that sells the more renowned high-end version of Hainanese chicken rice. Of course, if you were to go into any coffeshop, foodcourt or eatery, the chicken rice is just as good.
The price of this wonderful dish depends on where you have your meal, it may be a little as S$2.50 to as much as S$15 (or more) per person, which is still affordable and worth the money. So don’t forget to try this dish if you ever are in Singapore!