Singaporeans and Malaysians cannot do without chicken rice.

It is unthinkable for Singaporeans and Malaysians to imagine life without chicken rice.

The fact is that you can find stalls, restaurants and hotels offering chicken rice or chicken rice set meal everywhere you go.

When students return from oversea, they will definitely indulge in eating chicken rice. When the locals travel overseas, they start to miss the taste of chicken rice.

What is so special about chicken rice, especially the famous Hainanese chicken rice?

Simply stated, it is the way the chicken is cooked, the taste of the rice, the garlic sauce, the soya sauce and the chili sauce.

Let us talk about the chicken. While you can see stalls selling roasted chicken rice, the best way to eat chicken rice is the plain chicken. That is the traditional method of preparing Hainanese chicken rice.

The sellers boil the whole chicken in broth. The exact recipe for the broth differs from sellers to sellers. They will never tell you the exact ingredients in the right proportion.

They use the bones, garlic, herbs and spices to make the broth for cooking the chicken. The secret of cooking chicken rice is in its timing. The experienced cook knows exactly how many minutes are used to partial cook the chicken, before dipping it in cold water. He will time to the exact seconds that the nearly cooked chicken immerses in cold water. Once the time is up, he will take the chicken out of the cold water, and cook in the soup again.

The cook will get the chicken out of the soup once cooked. He will let the chicken hang on a hook, and chop it into parts when customers order.

This special characteristic of hot, cold, hot treatment of cooking chicken makes the chicken juice and tender.

If the cook misjudges the timing, the chicken is hard and dry.

The rice is not just plain white rice. The rice is cooked with the chicken broth, Pandan leaves and garlic. Some cooks do not use Pandan leaf to increase the fragrance of the rice.

The rice cooked with chicken broth is shiny with the chicken fats, since the chicken fats will dissolve in boiling hot water.

The more chicken fats in the rice, the better the taste of the rice. Many sellers will let you dip the garlic sauce into the rice to enhance the taste.

Another must have ingredient for eating chicken rice is the chili sauce. The chili sauce for eating chicken rice is different from all other chili sauce.

The chili sauce for chicken rice consists of garlic, chili and vinegar. Different sellers have different ways of preparing the chili sauce. When you mix the chicken with chili sauce, you will find that is the perfect match.

If you are eating a chicken rice set meal in Singapore, you are likely to have a small plate of chicken with a few slices of cucumber and parsley, a plate of rice, a plate of green vegetables with oyster sauce, a bowl of chicken broth with spring onion, and chili sauce, garlic sauce and dark soya sauce.

Ironically for most lovers of chicken rice, the rice is the most memorable part of the meal. It is not the chicken. It is the rice.

If you have not eaten Hainanese chicken rice in your life, make sure you enjoy it at least once. You will never forget this meal.