Honey soy chicken and chicken rice

Posted on October 5, 2014


If I had to name a food to represent love, I would say it’s chicken rice. That is to say I love everyone I’ve cooked chicken rice for. And if ever someone needed/wanted to show me love – bring on the chicken rice ;)! Hainanese chicken rice (海南雞飯) is arguably the most famous chicken rice of them all. A dish of gently poached chicken served with chicken broth, chicken flavoured rice, a garlic ginger sauce and a chilli sauce. It is a dish that originates from the Hainan province in the south of China. Through migration and the like, Hainanese chicken rice has found its way across South East Asia is now even regarded as one of Singapore’s national dishes. It is a dish I will always hunt down whenever I’m in Asia. As one side of my family is actually Hainanese, I had even made a pilgrimage to Hainan to sample the local versions right from its birthplace! Hainan While satisfying, they definitely weren’t the best I’ve eaten. Actually overall in terms of my Hainan experience, I was a little disappointed. We couldn’t even find locals who spoke Hainanese! Even the ones who claimed to be born and raised in Hainan looked at us dumbfounded when we attempted to spark a conversation in the dialect. They all just spoke Mandarin. Which is really strange, considering that in most other parts in China you often hear the local dialect being spoken. But as it turns out, you’re far more likely to hear the Hainanese dialect in parts of Singapore and Malaysia than in Hainan! For example in Singapore, we heard plenty of Hainan being spoken by the staff at Yet Con (25 Purvis Street, Bugis, Singapore), a venue lauded for its traditional Hainanese cuisine. And for the record, Yet Con’s chicken rice definitely trumped the two versions we tried in Hainan. yetconNow that I’ve talk a bit about most renowned chicken rice, here is my version of love on a plate. IMG_9137I wouldn’t dream of calling it Hainanese chicken rice, because it’s not at all traditional. See while I love chicken rice, my love really is for the chicken flavoured rice and the chicken stock. I don’t care too much for the poached chicken, if given a choice I would probably rather the chicken roasted or fried. In fact, I could even forgo the meat and just have the flavoured rice and broth with a bowl of steamed veggies and still be happy. But maybe don’t let the Hainan side of my family know; they may disown me… The rice and broth I make is pretty orthodox, it’s just the chicken that is different. The chicken is jointed, covered in a honey soy marinade and then given a quick roasting. I joint the chicken because it cooks faster and there’s more surface area for the marinade to reach, but you could always roast it whole. If you do roast it whole, I have a couple of tips for how I get a bigger flavour pay off in a previous post. As the chicken has been flavoured, I don’t need to bother making any sauces to go with my chicken rice. But since I don’t poach the chicken, I do need to make chicken stock (for the rice and broth) separately. Otherwise you can just use the chicken poaching liquid as the stock.

I’ve blogged previously about how I make chicken stock; basically just gently simmer cleaned chicken carcasses in water for a number of hours. I make stock on a regular basis and freeze portions, which means making my so called chicken rice isn’t a very intensive affair and can easily be whipped up for a week night dinner. That’s another reason why I do this version rather than the classic Hainanese style. Hope you like this recipe.

RECIPE – Honey soy chicken with chicken rice (serves 4) Roast chicken:

  • 1 small-medium chicken, jointed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark soy
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Chicken rice:

  • 2 cups jasmine rice, washed and drained
  • ~3cm piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 spring onion (white bit only), chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few pinches ground turmeric (optional extra that turns the rice a beautiful sunshine yellow)
  • ~ 3 1/4 cups chicken stock (I eyeball the water to rice ratio, hence the approximation here)
  • 2 pandan leaves knotted (double the quantity if using frozen pandan leaves)
  • deep fried shallots for garnish

Chicken broth:

  • 1L clear chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful chopped spring onions and coriander leaves


  1. To joint chicken, remove backbone then cut down the breast bone to halve the chook. Pull legs away from body and feel for the joint between thigh and body. Push your knife hard against the joint to cut through. Separate drumstick from thigh using the same technique. Repeat to separate the wing from the body. I also like to cut the breast in half so that the pieces are roughly similar sized. Do the same to the other half and you should end up with 10 chicken pieces.IMG_9131IMG_9132
  2. Reheat oven to 180°C.
  3. Mix together ingredients for honey soy marinade. Marinade chicken for at least 30mins.
  4. Place chicken pieces skin side up on a lined baking tray and bake at 180ºC fan forced for ~25 mins or until cooked through.
  5. While chicken is cooking prepare chicken rice by heating 1 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a wok on medium heat. Fry minced garlic, ginger and chopped spring onion until fragrant. Turn heat on high then add in washed and dried raw rice. Season generously (salt helps bring out the chicken flavour) and add in a couple of sprinkles of turmeric powder. Toss to mix well then remove from heat.
  6. Place fried raw rice into a rice cooker or medium sized pot along with pandan leaves and chicken stock to cook.  If cooking on a stove, bring pot to the boil then reduce heat down to a gentle simmer until all the stock as been absorbed and rice is tender.IMG_8057
  7. Prepare chicken broth by heating chicken stock with seasoning and chopped spring onions/coriander. (The greens sink to the bottom if you add it during the heating process. If you prefer the greens to sit on top of the broth, add them after you’ve ladled it into bowls.)
  8. Plate up chicken rice with a couple of pieces chicken and serve alongside a bowl of hot chicken broth (I also served up a side of steam veggies). Best eaten immediately.IMG_9135

That is a hug on a plate if there ever is one. It may not be traditional, but the Hainanese side of the family has always been more than happy to wolf this down. That should speak for itself :).