This vegan version of Hainanese Chicken Rice uses whole, plant-based ingredients to capture the authentic, savory essence of the dish but is much easier and faster to cook than the original. The main flavours come from the generous amounts of garlic, ginger and scallion (aka green onions), plus a special broth that extracts umami goodness from mushrooms. That flavour gets sucked up into ordinary white rice and transforms it into the most flavourful, delicious dish! Click here for the printable recipe.
Hainanese Rice usually comes with two sauces:
I find it is most time efficient to prepare the ingredients for all three recipes before starting as many of the ingredients overlap.
Based on the name, I thought Hainanese Chicken Rice must have come from Hainan, a small island province in China. Its cuisine is said to be light with mild seasonings in comparison to other cooking styles in the region. But it’s actually from Singapore where Chinese immigrants from Hainan developed the recipe and techniques for what has become a national dish. It was one of my favourite dishes in my pre-vegan days. Instead of using a vegan chicken alternative, I opted for beans and mushrooms which makes a surprisingly satisfying swap in both texture and taste. Those who are familiar with the dish may be able to imagine what I’m talking about. For my vegan and vegetarian friends, I’ll spare you the details!
Video tutorial for Vegan Hainanese “Chicken” Rice Recipe
Start by washing some rice. Just place the rice in a large bowl, add some water and swish it around. This gets rid of loose starches and improves the texture of the finished rice. Drain out the cloudy water and repeat a few times until the water is mostly clear.
Once you have your rice clean and the water drained, set it aside and prepare the rest of the ingredients. For a complete Hainanese Rice meal, you must make the Scallion Ginger Sauce and Hainan Chili Sauce so be sure to mince lots of garlic and ginger so you can make those as well. I like to do it all at the same time with a garlic press and save any leftovers in containers.
When you have all your ingredients ready, heat a pot over high heat with a little vegetable oil. Add a teaspoon each of finely minced garlic and ginger and let that sizzle. Add about a tablespoon of chopped scallion as well; just the white and light green parts. After a few seconds, add about two cups or 200 grams of sliced mushrooms.
Reduce the heat to medium high and let it cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are cooked down and soft. This will take about five minutes. The mushrooms add a rich umami flavour. I used white mushrooms but you can use any mild tasting mushrooms you like. Oyster mushrooms are also really beautiful in this dish but can be expensive so I stuck with white mushrooms this time.
When your mushrooms are nice and soft and reduced, add another teaspoon of garlic and ginger, another tablespoon of scallions and three cups of vegan chicken-style vegetable broth. If you don’t have the chicken-style bouillon, just use regular vegetable or mushroom broth and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Add the cooked white beans and turn the heat to high.
Once the broth comes to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer over low heat for about three minutes to impart flavour to the beans. Then, remove the beans and mushrooms with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl to cool. Hainanese chicken is normally served chilled so similarly we’re going to chill the beans and mushrooms as well.
Leave the remaining garlic and scallions in the broth. You should have about 3 cups of broth left in the pot but we just need two cups to cook the rice. Pour out one cup and set it aside for now. Put the pot back on the stove (with 2 cups of broth remaining) and add the clean rice that we have ready and waiting.
Turn the heat to high and let the broth come to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for about 15 minutes until all the broth is absorbed. While you’re waiting, this is a good time to make your Scallion Ginger Sauce and Hainan Chili Sauce. The chili sauce uses some of the reserved broth.
When all the broth has been absorbed into the rice, it’s ready to plate. I use fill a small bowl with rice, then tip it onto a plate to create a pretty dome of rice. Add the chilled beans and mushrooms on top and garnish with extra scallions, cucumber slices and cilantro. Serve with the Scallion Ginger Sauce, Hainan Chili Sauce, and the rest of the broth. This dish is especially amazing when you load your spoon up with a bit of everything in each bite. I hope you try it!
Printable recipe for Veganized Hainanese Chicken Rice
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
- 3-4 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 3-4 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 3-4 tablespoon scallion, white and light green parts only, chopped
- 2 heaping cups mushrooms, thick sliced
- 3 cups vegan chicken-style prepared broth
- 1 cup cooked white beans (or your choice)
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
- Wash the rice. Place the rice in a bowl, add water and swish around. Drain the cloudy water. Repeat until the water runs clear. Drain the remaining water and set the rice aside.
- Heat a pot over high heat with a little vegetable oil. Add a teaspoon of garlic, a teaspoon of ginger, and a tablespoon of chopped scallion, white and light green parts only. Let them sizzle for a few seconds before adding the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to medium high and let the mushrooms cook until soft; about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add an additional teaspoon of garlic, a teaspoon of ginger, a tablespoon of scallions (again only white and light green parts), 3 cups of broth, and cooked beans. Turn the heat to high, let the broth come to a boil, then simmer on low for about 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat off. Remove the beans and mushrooms with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl to cool. Optionally, chill the beans and mushrooms in the fridge as the main protein in this dish is traditionally served cold over hot rice.
- You will have about 3 cups of broth remaining. Reserve one cup and set aside, checking that you have 2 cups left in the pot. Add the washed rice to the pot and turn the heat to high. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the broth; about 15 minutes. Do not stir the rice while simmering!
- While the rice is cooking, make the Scallion Ginger Sauce and Hainan Chili Sauce.
- Serve the hot rice with beans and mushrooms on top, along with Scallion Ginger Sauce, Hainan Chili Sauce, sliced cucumber, carrots, the chopped scallion (the dark green parts), cilantro, and the remaining broth.
- The mushrooms and beans in this dish are served chilled to be more like the original Hainanese dish. However, this dish also tastes great with everything hot so serve it however you prefer!
- Instead of beans, you can also use tofu or sliced seitan. Super firm pressed tofu will give this dish a toothsome bite that is similar to chicken. Soft tofu can deliver the same flavour with a delicate texture. Choose the dense protein that you prefer or leave it out all together. THERE ARE NO RULES!