Hainan chicken is a great classic comfort food on those cold days in the UK which I hate to add is often. In my family, the chicken would be poached in seasoned stock with simple ingredients of ginger, onion, celery and carrots. The chicken would left to cool before cutting into pieces and presented on a large serving platter together with the ginger and spring onion dip. The stock would sometimes be used as an accompanying soup or used to cook the rice.

The proper sweet chilli dip was only discovered when I went to Hong Kong a few years back and my friend ordered this dish for me after a night in Lang Kwai Fong and several beers and a little hangover.

Some Chinese families would serve the chicken slightly pink near the bone and some would gasp at that idea but the chicken meat would be soft and succulent. If you want that pink level, the trick is to boil the stock for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of chicken), remove from the heat and let stand for 2 hours. The residual heat would continue to cook the bird and the stock would be absorbed back in. Do expect some guests to ask you to cook longer.

I actually make this dish a lot at home. With Aaron and I going to martial arts, we are often thirsty and hungry and this combo really hits the spot.

Here, my recipe involves the stock from Chicken Pho. Not only do I have different flavoured rice but also a really rich fragrant soup to go along with it. I also get to have Chicken Pho the next day. If you don’t like Chicken Pho, just make a simple chicken stock (ginger, spring onions, carrots and celery) which I will make soon for you to follow.

Most recipes require poaching the whole chicken but I poach the chicken parts separately as its easier to manage when they are cooked. Check out my blog on cutting chicken.

Note: I can assume that you have a rice cooker as I don’t cook from a pan…sorry.

What you need:

Serves 4 people

Flavoured Rice 

Chicken Pho Stock

3 cups or 450g rice, washed and drained

1 tbsp chicken fat (if you don’t have any reserved, just use sunflower oil.

1 thumb sized ginger, crushed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

Spring onion and ginger dip

2 spring onions, finely sliced.

2 tbsp ginger grated.

2 tsp sea salt

50ml sunflower oil

Red chilli dip

60ml rice vinegar

60g sugar

3 red chillies, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves

1/4 tsp salt

Lets start by making the dips;

Place all the ingredients into a mini-chopper or blender, blitz and then set aside for the flavours to fuse.

 Now on to the green onion and ginger dip….

Place the finely sliced spring onions and the grated ginger in a bowl and add the salt. In a pan, add the oil and heat until it begins to smoke. Then pour the oil into the mixture. The oil will spit and hiss. Be careful not to get splashed by the oil. The hot oil will flash fry the ginger and onion and release the aromas. Stir until evenly mixed.

On high heat, add the chicken fat or sunflower oil to the wok then cook the ginger and garlic until browned. Transfer the rice to the wok and cook for a few minutes. Once mixed, transfer the fragrant rice to the rice cooker


Add the chicken pho stock to ‘3 cups’ mark on the rice cooker and turn on.


Poach the chicken breast for 20 minutes in the chicken pho broth. Remove and then cool down.

Serve immediately with sliced cucumber together with the green and red dips. Also get yourself a bowl of Chicken Pho soup. Enjoy