Cơm Gà Hải Nam is a variation of Hainanese chicken rice when it made its way to Vietnam.

Apart from the succulent chicken poached with aromatics, and fragrant rice prepared in chicken broth, it stands out with the special zesty Ginger Fish Sauce accompaniment.

A delicious plate of Vietnamese Chicken Rice (Cơm Gà Hải Nam) with fragrant rice, tender chicken, and ginger fish sauce, garnished with herbs and served with cucumber and tomato slices

Cơm Gà Hải Nam (Vietnamese-style Hainan chicken rice)

Chicken and rice are a popular combination worldwide. In Vietnam, chicken rice is known as “Cơm Gà” . There are several variations of “Cơm Gà” throughout the country, such as:

  • Cơm Gà Hải Nam: Vietnamese-style Hainan Chicken Rice, popular in Saigon, where there is a large Chinese-Vietnamese community.
  • Cơm Gà Hội An: Hoi An Chicken Rice. The chicken rice is served with Gỏi Gà (chicken salad with Vietnamese coriander), and vegetable pickles (quite similar to Đồ Chua).
  • Cơm Gà Nha Trang: Nha Trang Chicken Rice. This version is from my hometown and is served with shredded poached chicken. The signature of this chicken rice is the accompanying Vietnamese mayo.
  • Cơm Gà Xối Mỡ / Cơm Gà Da Giòn: red fried rice with crispy skin fried chicken.
  • Cơm Gà Nướng: rice with grilled lemongrass chicken or 5-spice chicken.
A delicious plate of Nha Trang chicken rice with fragrant rice, tender poached chicken, and garnished with crispy shallots, vietnamese mints, pickled carrot and served with cucumber and tomato slices.
Cơm Gà Nha Trang (Nha Trang Chicken Rice)

Historically, Hainanese Chicken Rice traveled with the Southern Chinese across Southeast Asia. In each country, locals adapted the ingredients to create their own unique versions:

  • In Singapore and Malaysia , it’s served with three popular dipping sauces: ginger-scallion, chili sauce, and sesame soy sauce. The best chicken rice is made with Ayam Kampong, the indigenous chicken breed in these countries.
  • In Thailand , the local version is called Khao Man Gai, and it is accompanied by a fermented soybean sauce.

Cơm Gà Hải Nam was also introduced to Southern Vietnam by Chinese immigrants. Once in Vietnam, people adapted it with local ingredients to create a Vietnamese rendition.

The main differences that set this chicken rice apart are Nước Mắm Gừng (ginger fish sauce dipping) and the poached chicken with its turmeric-yellow skin.

A small bowl filled with zesty ginger fish sauce, a popular Vietnamese condiment
Ginger Fish Sauce for Vietnamese Com Ga Hai Nam

Additionally, various Vietnamese local herbs like lemongrass and lime leaves are incorporated into the poaching liquid for the chicken.

The recipe still remains quite straightforward to cook, and it’s definitely worth attempting – I assure you.

If you’re interested, you can also try this Instant Pot Hainanese Chicken Rice , which leans more towards the Singaporean/Malaysian flavor profile.

Delicious and aromatic Instant Pot Hainan Chicken Rice, served with juicy chicken, fluffy rice, and delectable sauces.

Ingredients

You can find the ingredients at Asian markets. For precise measurements, refer to the recipe card at the end of this post.

1

For the chicken rice

Ingredients for com ga hai nam: chicken leg quarters, turmeric powder, jasmine rice, ginger, scallion, onion, kaffir leaves

CHICKEN: You can opt to use half a chicken or 2 chicken leg quarters, similar to what I did.

TURMERIC (OR TURMERIC POWDER): Poached chicken with yellow and bouncy skin is a standard in Vietnamese cuisine (honestly, I used to assume that chicken naturally had yellow skin until I tried poached chicken while traveling abroad).

The native chicken breed in Vietnam naturally has yellow and bouncy skin, but Vietnamese cooks often apply additional turmeric to the poached chicken’s skin to enhance its color.

We love to use turmeric in cooking, as it enhances the food’s appearance and offers health benefits. Some popular dishes are:

  • Bánh Xèo (Sizzling Pancakes)
  • Mì Quảng (Quang-style Noodles)
  • Chả Cá Lã Vọng (Turmeric Fish with Dill)

JASMINE RICE: In Vietnam, we often cook rice in a rice cooker; however, I have a shortcut to cook Jasmine rice with microwave with just less than 15 minutes.

AROMATICS (onion, ginger, lime leaves, scallions, lemongrass): These ingredients are essential for creating the fragrant liquid used to poach the chicken. If you have pandan leaves and cilantro roots on hand, you can also add them.

SEASONINGS: chicken powder and salt.

GARNISH: sliced cucumber and sliced tomato.

2

For the dipping sauce

Ingredients for ginger fish sauce: fish sauce, sugar, chili, ginger, sautéed scallions, vinegar, chicken broth
  • Minced ginger
  • Chili
  • Fish sauce
  • Sugar
  • Chicken broth (or water)
  • Vinegar
  • Sautéed scallions (only the white part) (optional)

Or try this nước chấm (garlic – chili fish sauce) if you don’t like ginger.

Cơm Gà Hải Nam (Vietnamese ginger chicken rice)

Instructions

1

Poach the chicken

  • In a large pot, pour water and add the aromatics, including onion, ginger, lime leaves, scallions, lemongrass, turmeric powder, salt, and chicken powder.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes to extract the flavors from the aromatics.
  • Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. When the water is barely bubbling, gently add the chicken legs.
onion, scallion, ginger, kaffir leaves, turmeric powder in a pot of water
poached chicken in the fragrant liquid
  • Cook the chicken on low heat for 20 minutes, keeping the lid on. Then turn off the heat and let the chicken sit for an additional 15 minutes.
  • To check if the chicken is cooked, use a chopstick to prick the thickest part of the chicken. The chicken is fully cooked when no bloody water comes out.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and wrap it in plastic wrap.
  • You can save the chicken broth for making soup.
2

Cook the rice

  • While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the rice. Rinse the rice with water and drain it thoroughly.
well-drained jasmine rice after being rinsed
  • In a pot, add 3 tbsp cooking oil (or rendered chicken fat). Add the white part of the scallions and sauté until fragrant and the scallions turn slightly golden.
  • Remove the scallion part and set them aside for making the dipping sauce.
sautéing scallion stems
sautéed scalions
  • Stir-fry the Jasmine rice with the scallion oil and turmeric powder until the rice becomes translucent.
  • Transfer the rice to a rice cooker. Pour in the chicken broth (use slightly less liquid than usual as the rice is already partially cooked) and cook.
rice and chicken broth in the pot of rice cooker
3

Make Vietnamese Ginger Fish Sauce

  • Combine all the ingredients for the sauce (fish sauce, sugar, minced ginger, chili, chicken broth, vinegar, and sautéed scallions).
minced ginger and chili
A small bowl filled with zesty ginger fish sauce, a popular Vietnamese condiment
4

Serve and enjoy

A delicious plate of Vietnamese Chicken Rice (Cơm Gà Hải Nam) with fragrant rice, tender chicken, and ginger fish sauce, garnished with herbs and served with cucumber and tomato slices
  • You could debone the chicken legs and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Enjoy Cơm Gà Hải Nam alongside sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, and the ginger fish sauce.

Helpful Tips

  • Choose high-quality organic or free-range chicken.
  • It’s even better if you have some chicken fat to sauté the rice, as it enhane the rice’s flavor. (though cooking oil works just fine as well).
  • If you don’t like your chicken with yellow skin, you can skip the turmeric powder.
  • If you love Vietnamese cuisine and chicken, explore my collection of Vietnamese chicken recipes . Some popular dishes are:
Vietnamese Phở Trộn
Phở Trộn (Pho Noodle Salad with Chicken)
Vietnamese Spicy Lemongrass Chicken (Gà Xào Xả Ớt) – A flavorful and aromatic dish with succulent chicken infused with lemongrass, chili and other spices.
Gà Xào Xả Ớt (Spicy Lemongrass Chicken)

Thanks a bunch for giving my recipe a shot! If you enjoyed it, I’d truly appreciate a 5-star rating or a comment to let me know your thoughts.

And don’t forget to stay in touch with me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and YouTube 🥰.

A delicious plate of Vietnamese Hainanese chicken rice with fragrant rice, tender chicken, and ginger fish sauce, garnished with herbs and served with cucumber and tomato slices

Vietnamese Chicken Rice (Cơm Gà Hải Nam)

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Cơm Gà Hải Nam, a spin on Hainanese chicken rice in Vietnam, highlights succulent poached chicken, fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth, and a distinctive zesty ginger fish sauce. Surely to satisfy you
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese, Vietnamese
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • 1 stock pot
  • 1 rice cooker

Ingredients
  

Chicken Rice

  • 2 chicken leg quarters
  • 2 cup water (500ml) (just enough to cover the chicken in the pot)
  • 1 onion (quartered)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (slightly pounded)
  • 1 large piece ginger (3inch or 7cm) (sliced)
  • 2 Kaffir leaves
  • ½ tbsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp Chicken powder (adjust to taste)
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder (for cooking rice)

Ginger Fishsauce:

  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp chicken broth (or water)
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • 2 slice ginger (15g) (minced)
  • 1 Thai Bird's eye chili (minced)
  • Sautéed scallion stem (saved from sautéing the rice)

Instructions
 

Poaching chicken:

  • In a pot, add water along with all the aromatics and seasonings: onion, ginger, lime leaves, scallions, lemongrass, turmeric powder, salt, and chicken powder.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, allowing the aromatics to infuse their flavors.
  • Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. When the water is gently bubbling, gently introduce the chicken legs.
  • Poach the chicken over low heat for 20 minutes with the lid on. Afterwards, turn off the heat and let the chicken rest for an additional 15 minutes.
  • To check if the chicken is done, use a chopstick to pierce the thickest part. It's fully cooked when no pink juices come out.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and wrap it in plastic wrap. Keep the chicken broth.

Cooking chicken rice:

  • While the chicken is simmering, you can prepare the rice. Rinse the rice with water and drain it well.
  • In a pot, heat 3 tablespoons of cooking oil (or rendered chicken fat). Add the white part of the scallions and sauté until they become fragrant and slightly golden.
  • Remove the scallions and set them aside for making the dipping sauce later.
  • Stir-fry the Jasmine rice with the scallion-infused oil and turmeric powder until the rice turns translucent.
  • Transfer the rice to a rice cooker pot and add the chicken broth (use slightly less liquid than usual because the rice is already partially cooked). Cook the rice.

Preparing the ginger fish sauce:

  • Mix together all the sauce ingredients – fish sauce, sugar, minced ginger, chili, chicken broth, vinegar, and the sautéed scallions.

Serving

  • Debone the chicken legs and cut them into bite-sized pieces (optional).
  • Serve Cơm Gà Hải Nam with slices of cucumber, tomato, and the ginger fish sauce. Enjoy!!

Notes

  • Opt for high-quality organic or free-range chicken.
  • Using chicken fat for sautéing the rice. It can enhance the flavor.
  • If you don’t need your poached chicken with yellow skin, you can omit the turmeric powder.
     
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
5/5 - (44 votes)

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