Going back to our roots: a Hainanese story

The famous Hainanese Chicken Rice propelled Hainanese cuisine to attention, but what other dishes have you heard of?

The Hainan cuisine is a showcase of the cooking styles of the people in the Hainan province of China. Their trademark food is usually light in taste, less oily and more seasoned than the Chinese mainlanders. Their choice of menu consist of seafood mainly, with shrimps, crab and freshwater fish being the primary stars.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice

Here is a fun fact: the Hainanese chicken rice is not actually from Hainan! It originated in Singapore, and is based on the popular Hainanese dish called the Wencheng chicken. This dish is considered one of our national dishes and has found its place in most Singapore food courts.

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The chicken for this dish is prepared in traditional Hainanese methods. The chicken will be steeped at sub-boiling temperatures in a pre-simmered pork and chicken bone stock. A modern method is to dip the chicken in ice after cooking to achieve a jelly-like skin. The dish is then served with chili sauce.

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Wenchang Chicken

One of the most famous dishes in Hainan cuisine, the Wenchang chicken is made from a type of free range chicken. The traditional way of preparing it is by white cutting. This means to immerse the chicken in boiling hot water and then cooked to preserve the softness and tenderness. It is then seasoned with a mixture of spices, such as chopped ginger and salt. The skin of the Wenchang chicken is usually yellow. 

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Hele Crab

The Hele crab is produced in the sea around Hele Town. The dish is prepared by steaming the creamy crab with ginger, garlic and vinegar. While there are a variety of cooking styles possible, such as boiling or stir-frying, steaming is the preferred method as it maintains the crabs’ colour and flavour. 

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Ji Ji Duck

The Jia Ji Duck, otherwise known as Fan Duck, is one of the four most famous dishes of the Hainan province. This duck is loved for its generous serving, its crispy thin skin and delicate meat. It is a fatty but not overly oily dish. The dish can be prepared in three ways – steamed, preserved or roasted.

By Nicole Lee

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