Taiwanese chicken rice originated from Chiayi, a city in the southern part of Taiwan. Traditionally it's made with turkey, as it's cheaper and more available back in the day. If you visit Chiayi in Taiwan, you will see restaurants and food stalls selling turkey/chicken rice every where.
In its appearance, this dish is deceptively simple -- seemingly just a bowl of white rice topped with some shredded chicken and sauce. The flavor, however, will surprise you with its depth and savoriness. If you like Taiwanese braised pork rice (Lu Rou Fan), then you must try this chicken rice. To me, they are equally delicious and addictive. I always end up eating more whenever I made this chicken rice!
I moved to Chiayi when I was a high school junior because of my dad's job. I remember I had a very hard time adjusting to the new environment, especially to the new school. There's one thing, though, that I always looked forward to everyday I went to school: eating my favorite chicken rice from the school cafeteria for lunch! When it's about lunch time, I would automatically start thinking about chicken rice. I usually can't keep eating the same food again and again, but I ate chicken rice almost everyday for the entire semester, and I kept looking forward to it until the end. It was that good!
Use short Grain White Rice
A good bowl of chicken rice starts with good white rice. The springy white rice is usually used for Taiwanese chicken rice. The rice should be cooked just right: if it's too mushy, it won't be able to absorb the sauce. Rinse the rice very well and drain all the water with a strainer before cooking. The best and easiest way is to cook the rice in the rice cooker or an instant pot, with 1:1 water and rice ratio.
Make your own crispy fried shallot
Even though it seems the chicken is the main ingredient of this dish, the fried shallot is really what elevates this dish to something so much more than just chicken with rice. The fried shallot contributes to the aroma, sweetness, as well as adding a bit of the crunchy texture to this dish. You can use the store bought ones but the flavor won't be as good. Making your own crispy fried shallot is very easy, check out my Crispy Fried Shallots and Shallot Oil recipe for all the details.
Use skin on bone in chicken breast
The sauce and the fat are what makes this dish so amazing. We use the broth of cooking chicken breast as the base of the sauce. Including the bones makes the broth more flavorful, which results in a better tasting sauce. Skin is important too, as we want to get the chicken fat from the skin and use it to enhance the flavor of this dish.
If you like this recipe, make sure you also try my
Taiwanese Chicken Rice (雞肉飯)
- 1 bone-in skin-on chicken breast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper powder
- 1 big shallot, or two smaller ones, thinly sliced
- vegetable oil
- water for cooking chicken
- 1 teaspoon rice cooking wine
- 1 scallion, cut in half
- 3 slices of ginger
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 3-4 servings warm short grain white rice
- Remove the chicken skin, pat dry and save the skin in a container and store it in the fridge.
- Marinate the chicken breast with salt and white pepper powder and store in the fridge for at least 1 hours, preferably overnight.
- In a 4 qt pot, add ginger slices, scallion, rice wine and just enough water to cover the chicken breast (about half of the pot) before bringing water to a boil.
- Add in chicken breast, cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer the chicken for
- 25 minutes or until internal temperature reach 165°F. Place the chicken on a plate to cool down a bit before shredding.
Render chicken fat
- Meanwhile, put a small sauce pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, lay the chicken skin in the pan and pan fry the chicken skin with medium to medium low heat to render the chicken fat. Cook until the chicken skin becomes golden and crispy. Turn off the heat, remove the chicken skin and leave the oil in the pan (see note).
- Add the thinly sliced shallot into the sauce pan and add just enough vegetable oil or lard to cover the shallot. Fry the shallot with medium to medium low heat, stirring occasionally so the shallot can be cooked evenly.
- Once most of the shallot turns yellow, drain the oil with a mesh strainer into a bowl (we will need it later) and lay the shallot in a thin layer on paper towel. The residual heat will continue to fry the shallot and make it crispy. Don't wash the pan yet, we will need it later for making sauce.
- Add 3⁄4 cup of the broth from cooking the chicken, soy sauce, and sugar into the sauce pan. Bring it to a boil and then add in a small hand full of the fried shallot that we just made and set the sauce aside.
- Add the shredded chicken breast on top of a bowl of hot white rice, pour 2 tablespoon of sauce and 1-2 teaspoon of shallot oil over the chicken before topping with fried shallot. Stir the rice a bit before eating, add more sauce if needed.