Hainan Chicken w/ Pickled Radish (Gà Luộc với Củ Cải Ngâm Giấm)

This dish is basically Hainan Chicken minus the dipping sauces. My partner’s mum first served this dish to me a few years ago calling it Boiled Chicken. Like hainan chicken, she also uses the boiling liquid to cook the rice but serves it with a pickled radish dip consisting of the pickle juices, soy, chilli and sesame oil. After having tried the original hainan chicken in Singapore at Tian Tian Chicken Rice (Michelin starred hawker stall) and many other stalls in Singapore, I realised that I much preferred eating it with the pickled radish dip compared to the original condiments that go with hainan chicken.

To be honest I’m not sure if the Vietnamese version I ate is really even a Vietnamese dish because prior to eating it a few years ago I had never even heard of it. My partner has Chinese roots so what I ate really could have been some adaptation of the Hainan Chicken dish.

For this version, I changed the cooking style slightly to cook it like you would making Hainan Chicken to produce juicier and more tender meat. If you’re feeling adventurous, give this dish a go. Despite the many steps in this recipe, it’s A LOT easier than you might think! As a side note, the whole chicken cost me only $7, so apart from the extra veggies and rice, it’s an extremely cheap dish to serve a family of four 🙂

Serves 4

Ingredients for Stock

  • 1.3kg whole free range chicken (room temperature)
  • 240g radish, cut into long sticks
  • 2 spring onion stalks, halved lengthwise
  • 2 carrots, quartered, lengthwise
  • 4L water                                                                                                      stock ingred whole chicken

Ingredients for the Carcass

  • A tbsp of coarse salt to exfoliate the skin
  • 1 tbsp light soy to rub inside the carcass
  • 2 spring onions
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 5 ginger slices (3mm thick)                                                         Cavity ingredients

Ingredients for the Rice

  • 270g uncooked rice (1¼ tsp salt to soak rice)
  • trimmed chicken skin and fat from carcass + 2 tbsp water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 ginger slices (3mm thick)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 220mL poaching stock
  • 3 pandan leaves (optional)                                                        rice ingredients

Soy Sauce to Pour over Chicken

  • 145mL poaching stock
  • 2 tbsp light soy
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Ingredients for Soup Bowl

  • 1L poaching stock
  • ½ tsp + ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1¼ tsp sugar
  • radish and carrot from poaching stock
  • coriander to garnish

Pickled Radish (done the morning of meal)

  • 100mL white vinegar
  • 400mL boiling water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 120g radish peeled, and sliced thinly (use mandolin or peeler) + 1 tsp salt to soak                                                                                    IMG_6332 (1)


  1. Boil some water, mix with vinegar, sugar and salt and set aside to cool
  2. Peel radish and slice thinly. Fill bowl with water and add 1 tsp of salt to the bowl to soak until the vinegar water is cool. Once cool drain and rinse the radish, then add to vinegar water to pickle                                                          IMG_6334 IMG_6335
  3. In a large pot (I used 11L pot) add water, carrot, radish and spring onion, close lid and bring to the boil                                                                       bring to boil
  4. Trim excess fat/skin from the chicken and set aside (see ingredients picture)
  5. Rub the outside of chicken with salt to exfoliate the skin and then rinse the outside and inside of chicken
  6. Rub inside of chicken with light soy and then fill with spring onion, garlic and ginger                                                                                                  cavity stuffed
  7. Once pot boils, turn heat down to low so that the water is only simmering and add chicken in, breast-side down. Make sure the pot is uncovered and the water is not boiling or simmering too high. There should be very few bubbles no larger than 3mm large. Leave the chicken in the pot simmering like this for 14 minutes. (very important to have a timer)                                                           breast side down pic add chkn to pot
  8. After 14 minutes, turn off the heat and cover with a lid for 34 minutes
  9. Remove chicken from pot after 14 minutes, making sure you drain excess liquid from inside the cavity and add chicken to ice bath for about 10minutes until chicken feels completely cold. Remove, drain, and cover in cling wrap until ready to serve                                                                                                 ice bath
  10. While waiting for the chicken to cool down, rinse rice in 4-5 washes until water is relatively clear. Soak rice in salt and water (water should be 1cm above rice) for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside                                                      soak rice drained rice
  11. While waiting for rice to soak, heat a wok on medium heat, add chicken trimmings with 2 tbsp of water and render the fat for about 10minutes. (should be a rolling simmer). Once water has evaporated and fat has rendered from the trimmings (hopefully about 2 tbsp, remove all the chicken skin/pieces)skin and water fat amount
  12. Add the ginger and garlic, sautee for 2min until aromatic and slightly browned (make sure not to burn garlic)                                                 add ginger and garlic browned garlic and ginger
  13. Add rice and salt and saute for another 2 minutes. Make sure you don’t make the rice crispy otherwise it will be dry when cooked
  14. Add all ingredients in the wok into the rice cooker. Add pandan leaves and chicken stock. Cook on the white rice setting as usual. Once done, all the ginger and leaves will be sitting on top of the rice, remove and mix through. Rice granules should be separated and not sticky. It’s supposed to be a tad dry      sauted rice add raw rice to cooker cooked rice open mix cook rice
  15. Carve to de-bone each piece. First slice the flappy skin to separate the drumstick carve maryland 1 carve maryland 2
  16. Flip the chicken, and slice across to the middle of the chicken to separate the thigh. Now slowly push the drumstick up and it should easily twist off. Do both sidescarve maryland 3 flipped over carved maryland 5 remove carve maryland 6 remove carve maryland 7 final
  17. Remove the drumstick from the thigh piece similar to in Step 19. Then peel of the bone pieces from the thigh and slice into thin pieces (Sorry I forgot to take photos for this part!)
  18. Lift the wing and slice across the bottom of the drumstick, past the cartilage bone and pull away. Do for both sides                                                          remove wing remove wing 2 remove wing 3
  19. Separate the wing and drumette by placing it as a V shape and slicing straight down past the cartilage                                                                           separate wing and drumette
  20. Flip over breast side up, and slice straight down the middle. Then separate the carcass from the chicken by putting your thumb inside the carcass and pulling the bone side away from the meat side                                                       halv breast separate carcass 1 separate carcass 2 separate carcass3
  21. Separate the breast by pulling both sides away from each other. Once separated peel off the bone behind the beast and slice into thin pieces  split breast slice breast close up breast
  22. In a pot, add the stock, salt, sugar and pieces of radish and carrot (chopped into bite size pieces). Serve with coriander garnish as a side bowl of soup
  23. To make the pickle dip, place a handful of slices in a bowl, add 2 tbsp of pickle juice, add 2 tbsp of soy sauce mix, add chilli and mix. I like to dip my chicken in this radish dip
  24. Heat all soy sauce ingredients in a small pot until boiling, then pour over chicken slices to heat up the chicken and slightly season it                        sauce
  25. Serve up everything and enjoy the succulent tender meat!close up chopstick 2

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