Recipe: Fragrant Rice for Hainanese Chicken Rice

This dish is not “a side of rice,” it is a celebration of rice, where each grain is delicately anointed in oil, perfumed with aromatics, and cooked to perfection.


6 servings


2 tbsp (30 ml) rendered chicken fat (instructions below)
1 tbsp (15 ml) safflower oil
chicken fat, reserved from whole chicken
3 cups (600 g) long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
2 tsp (6 g) sea salt
2 pandan leaves (screwpine), loosely knotted
3 cups (750 ml) chicken stock, hot


  1. Render chicken fat:
    In a large saucepan, heat safflower oil on medium-high until shimmering. Add chicken fat. Reduce heat to medium. Partially cover pan (to protect from spattering). Continue cooking, turning chicken fat occasionally, until it has liquified. Discard any remaining chicken solids. You should have 3-4 tablespoons of oil. Keep 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and reserve the remaining oil for Chili Sauce.
  2. Add rice to pan and stir continuously until the grains are translucent. [Note: the goal is to coat every single grain with oil.]
  3. Add salt, pandan leaves and stock. Cover and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes.


  1. Rice cooker: Put rice, salt, pandan leaves and stock in rice cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Brown rice: For a more healthful (but less traditional) option, use 2 cups (500 g) of long-grain brown rice and 3-1/2 cups (875 ml) of boiling stock. Simmer for 45 minutes and let sit for 15 minutes.


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