“What’s Cooking” – Chicken Rice


After last night wonderful dinner at the Red Velvet Lounge (RVL) in Cygnet with a fellow food blogger (you can read her reviewhere).  I am tempted to cook something closer to heart and my family roots for Sunday lunch.

In Penang, Malaysia one of the most popular “Street Food” lunch is a “Chicken Rice” (which is also popular in Singapore and throughout Malaysia). I usually go for chicken rice at least 3 times a week. It is an extremely popular and delicious street food with various tastes and flavours. At a typical Chicken Rice stall, there are usually two kinds of a whole chicken hanging on a metal hook pierced through the chicken upper neck. One is a plain white chicken (in Penang it is called, “Peh Kay” in Hokkien or “Pek Cham Kai” in Cantonese) which is either steamed or poached, and the other is soy roasted chicken (“Seoh Kay” in Hokkien or “Siew Kai” in Cantonese) which is marinated in soy sauce, spice and roasted. There are other meats at the same stall, again hanging on a metal hook such as soy roasted duck (“Seoh Ark” in Hokkien or “Siew Ark” in Cantonese), Chinese Barberque Pork (“Char Siew”) and crisp skin roasted pork (“Seoh Bak” in Hokkien or “Siew Yok” in Cantonese). The meal is always accompanied by a special fragrant chicken rice and dressed in soy sauce, with slices of cucumber, freshly blanched bean sprout (some stalls only), chilli sauce and ginger shallots sauce (some stalls only) on the side. Oh, and a small bowl of chicken soup (be careful with the soup, as most of them put MSG. I tend to avoid drinking the soup, but instead use it to wet the rice a little to add another layer of flavour).

So this morning, I woke up at 8:45am, put on two layers of clothing because of the wet cold winter and drove to Woolworth supermarket in Huonville. I was hoping to buy my favourite free range chicken but they didn’t have it, instead I bought a corn fed whole chicken, some tomatoes, cucumber, ginger, spring onion, garlic, iceberg lettuce as the basic ingredients. 

This is a special lazy Sunday nutritious meal with a balance of protein and carbohydrate. It is wholesome and has many different flavours; salty from the soy sauce, toasty from the sesame oil, zesty from the ginger/spring onion sauce, spicy and sweet from the chilli sauce, and when combined together and eat with your eyes shut, it is a whole new experience for those that have never had a Malaysian or Singaporean Chicken Rice before. If you have seen the final episode of the Australian MasterChef a couple of weeks ago, you would remember that Poh chose to make a local Malaysian dish with the chicken; that is, “Hainanese” Chicken Rice (originated from the Hainan community). But, she had modernise the dish for the judges. Unfortunately not enough to win the competition.


1 whole free range chicken

A bunch of spring onion

1 tablespoon white peppercorn

1 thumb size ginger

3 cloves garlic



Olive oil

Sesame oil

Chilli sauce

Light soy sauce



Iceberg lettuce

1. Poach the chicken

Remove excess chicken fat from the inside. Keep the fat aside for later use.  Fill a pot enough to submerge the whole chicken. Add a bunch of spring onion (white section only), a tablespoon of white peppercorn, salt and sugar to taste. Put the heat on high until the water is boiled, turn the heat to low and slowly simmer the chicken until it is cooked (between 30-45mins) depending on your stove and liquid in the pot.

2. Prepare Ginger/Spring Onion sauce

While waiting for the chicken to cook, grate the ginger, mixed with finely chopped spring onion (green section only), add some good olive oil, sprinkle some salt to taste. Mix thoroughly well to be served later with the dish.

3. Prepare the rice

Pan fry the excess chicken fat removed earlier with a bit of butter until you get the oily fatty chicken fat mixed with butter. Put aside. Rinsed 2-3 cups of rice in water until water is almost clear. Add the chicken/butter oil, a bit of finely chopped garlic and sprinkle of salt to taste. Add water (or chicken stock) and cook the rice.

4. Prepare the plate

Place the plate with some finely sliced iceberg lettuce, slices of tomatoes and cucumber. Scoop a small bowl of rice onto the plate. Add part of the cooked chicken on top of the lettuces. Dressed a bit of light soy sauce and sesame oil over the chicken, vegetables and rice. Serve with a bit of chilli sauce and ginger/spring onion sauces, and a small bowl of chicken soup (sprinkle some finely chopped spring onion and dried shallots).

“Makan Lah”


18 responses to ““What’s Cooking” – Chicken Rice

  1. Hi Victor, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your recipe and anecdotes. I have friends in Malaysia and get over there quasi regularly. My great passion when I am there is too “whack”…our name for eating out which I do with avengence. Love to hear your take on claypot chicken rice sometime if you care to share. I do a version but still perfecting it. cheers, Scott

    • Thanks, Scottyfella and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      Oh, yes. I love claypot chicken rice as well. It has to have that burnt at the bottom for that wonderful, smoky texture and flavour. I have not make it since we have moved to Tasmania. But, still have my 2 inner glazed claypots. I will see if I can dig up the recipe.

  2. Hello Victor! This is one of all time favourite dishes to eat when in Sydney’s China town, but I’ve never made it myself. Thanks for the recipe, I’m inspired to try it now – especially as you’ve bought all the ingredients from my local supermarket! Huonville eh – who knew?

  3. Hi Victor, that recipe sounds very restoritive & like comfort food of the first order. My daughter is homme for the week ill, I might give this a crack when she feels like eating again.

    • Thanks, Steve. It is light and the chicken being slowly poached will fall apart nicley. I love the ginger/spring onion sauce – maybe you can create a new interpretation (like add something crunchy?) as a dipping sauce in RVL. Btw my partner used some of the leftover chicken and ginger/spring onion sauce for his lunch sandwich.

      Hope your girl will feel better soon, with a bit of chicken soup as well. I also use that same stock to make some chicken noodle soup.

      The entire recipe is quite versatile on what you can use from the leftover.

  4. Victor, might I pass on a nibbly recipe? Often it’s just crisps and dips and so I am often thinking of something light to put on the table prior to or after the meal..such as listening to music and relaxing. Here is my try at an Australian version of what my friend described as an Indian recipe (she was brought up in Singapore with an Indian amah).

    1x200g Natural seed mix with pine nuts
    80g slivered almonds
    80g natural pistachios
    80g cashews
    1 egg white
    1 tsp peanut oil
    1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, garam masala, tumeric.
    Salt, pepper
    1/4 cup sultanas/raisins or dried cranberries (of choice).

    Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Combine all nuts and seeds, egg white, oil and spices and season.

    Spread the mixture over a roasting dish for about 15 minutes, stirring to make sure all is evening roasted. Add sultanas (or other dried fruit) and cook for another 3 minutes.

    Turn off oven, sprinkle with a little lite soy. Serve either warm or cooled.

    Full of fibre and very tasty.

    • Thanks, Min. Of course, your contribution is very welcome. Btw, why egg white? Is it supposed to create a thin layer of coating on the nuts and dried fruits to crisp them? Does it need to be beaten?

      “Amah” or “Arh-Sum” (in Hokkien) has a respectable social standing in the Malaysian kitchen if she has an excellent cooking skill. Otherwise, she is mostly hired to look after the young kids and households. My family never had an Arh-Sum in the past, because my mother is a full-time housewife when she married dad.

      But, I would like to hire Arh-Sum (not live in) for household chores if I ever move back to Penang.

  5. Delicious post! I’m lucky to have a local dealer for my fix of both Bak Jaam gai and See Yow gai, but my Mum used to make both when I was a kid. I’m mostly too time poor myself, but there’s nothing like that aspic that forms between the skin & the meat of the home made version…aah!

    Mum still makes big batches of geung chung – the ginger/spring onion salsa that goes with it and preserves it with sugar & Chinese grog. I love it so much I could eat it sans chicken, plain on steamed rice

    • Thanks, Stickyfingers and welcome to the blog. I sure envy you being able to get them close to where you live, esp on the way home for a quick takeaway.

      I missed Sydney Chinatown, Marrickville and Cabramatta (not for the drugs!), Melbourne Chinatown and Richmond for all the hundreds of Asian shops, restaurants and takeaway. So we make frequent visits and back to my hometown, Penang for my yearly fix.

      Btw thanks for your mum’s tip on preserving the ginger/spring onion salsa.

  6. Victor..just lightly beat the egg white and then use to coat the seeds and nuts. That’s a bit technical for me, but I suspect that you are right that the egg white helps to crispy things up.

    My friend Heather’s Amah was almost another mother..she did the cooking, lived in and cared for the children including walking them to school. I know that it was a very respected position for an Indian lady. She came to Australia for a while with the family but her own family wanted her back in Singapore. Eons ago..but some people you remember.

    • Thanks, Min.

      You described an Amah duty very well, which unfortunately I think is quite hard to come by this day, without the high cost. Also, the traditional Amah does it for love and passion of the job, and loyalty to the family. Likewise, the family usually treats Amah as an extended part of its own family. Cheers, Victor

  7. I had some of the nicest lamb shanks which left me arguing with the dog over the bone(i won the bone, dog is locked up in shed)

    I have to get the recipy but im sure i grew a second stomach handling the amount i ate.

    I will try and get it in the next few days, i have to work out how to drug the chef and where he keeps his notes.

    • LOL, Hexx. Welcome back. Maybe you should swap the dog (is it yours?) for the chef’s recipe. It is easier than trying to drug the chef.

  8. Dear Victor..just to let you know that I’ll be away for a few days up in Cairns for our little grand-daughter’s christening.

    I wanted to thank you and Hexx especially for your help with recipes. I think that panic set in yesterday when son’s partner suddenly realised that she was going to have to cater for 48 people and all that they have is a mid size fridge and no freezer.

    I said that I’d help with extras and so did a couple of kg of ye olde pork spare ribs (honey, soy lite, hoi sin (Ayam’s of course :)), garlic, mixed spice, sherry). I think that I have more food in the cases than I have clothes!


  9. Hi Victor, Thanks for letting me know about your blog. Enjoyed reading it… but made me homesick for Penang food!

    What a coincident, just happened that my husband cooked chicken rice last Saturday as well…. was so yummy! Except that he made the Hong Kong’s version, not Penang. He didn’t make the flavoured chicken rice, so we just had it with boiled rice.

    He made the Ginger/Spring Onion sauce. But I really miss the chilli sauce that you get with chicken rice in Penang. I think the chilli sauce has garlic in it. Do you have the recipe?

    • Hi Poay, welcome. Oh, yes the chilli sauce that comes with the chicken rice back home. That is salty, garlicky and spicy at the same time. I have not perfected it yet, but I have found this on another site. Have a look Here. Let me know if it works. 🙂

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