Hainanese chicken rice is a simple traditional dish but attractive throughout many years. Derived from Hainan, China, but this dish is popular in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Hainanese chicken rice is fascinating because they use chicken broth to cook the rice, so both rice and chicken all have a charming sweetness. Besides, there’s also delicious sweet and sour sauce, certainly will leave in your heart an unforgettable taste.
When introduced into other countries, Hainanese chicken rice had certain changes to suit the needs and tastes of people in each country. However, it retains the core values that made this dish unique.
Singapore is a country so deeply in love with Hainanese chicken rice that it is considered one of national dishes of Singapore, even though came from China. The Hainanese brought this dish there in the middle of 19th century to serve the British colonialists. Nowadays, you can enjoy this dish anywhere, from school canteens, street side stalls to luxurious restaurants.
Besides chicken rice, many restaurants in Singapore also serve other dishes such as boiled eggs, chicken liver, firm tofu… Instead of soy sauce as Hainanese chicken rice often found in other places, people in Singapore prefer oyster sauce for their food. Chicken here also has few variations, like fried or roasted instead of boiled chicken.
In Malaysia, the rice is often severed as rice balls, so this dish is also called “chicken rice balls”. Doing this makes the transportation become much easier, and the rice can also be hot longer.
Most of restaurants in Malaysia serve this dish with grilled, fried or roasted chicken instead of the traditional boiled chicken. At the same time, this country also has many variants of Hainanese chicken rice, such as ngah choi kai with bean sprouts, white rice (without spices), soup and chicken offal; or nasi ayam with more spices to suit the taste of Malaysians.
Also, Hainan chicken rice is a very popular dish in Thailand. It’s called khao man gai, which means “oiled rice chicken”. Thai chicken rice has many similarities compared to the traditional chicken rice in Hainan.
However, the sauce is pretty special here. It is made from many different ingredients like yellow sauce, brown sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger… all creating a new flavor to the familiar dish.
Which version would you like to try?