Hainanese curry rice

Adam Liaw
Asian flavour fusion: Hainanese curry rice.
Asian flavour fusion: Hainanese curry rice. Photo: William Meppem

Riffing off Japanese-English curries, Hainanese cooks in Singapore after World War II created one of the most unlikely curries ever to develop. Often served with an array of dishes, such as braised vegetables, prawn fritters, fried eggs and lion's head meatballs, this simplified version with green peas remains true to the spirit of the original.


6 cups cooked jasmine rice, to serve

2 cups cooked green peas, to serve

Crisp pork
500g pork shoulder, thinly sliced in bite-sized pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp shao hsing wine

1 tbsp castor sugar

1 tsp five-spice powder

¼ tsp white pepper

1 tbsp cornflour

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup crushed cream crackers, or panko breadcrumbs

about 2 litres oil, for deep frying

Curry sauce

3 brown onions

5 large red chillies, deseeded

4 cloves garlic

2cm ginger, peeled and sliced

2 tbsp fish sauce or 2 tsp shrimp paste

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp good-quality curry powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup chicken stock or water

400ml coconut cream


1. To make the curry sauce, blend together the onions, chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce or shrimp paste to a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the paste, stirring occasionally for about eight minutes until fragrant and the oil separates from the solids. Add the curry powder and salt and fry for a further minute, then add the stock or water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the coconut cream and simmer for a further five minutes.

2. For the pork, mix the pork slices with the garlic, soy sauce, shao hsing, castor sugar, five-spice powder, pepper and cornflour. Marinate for at least 10 minutes, but preferably overnight. Dip the pork pieces in egg and then coat in the crushed crackers or breadcrumbs. Deep-fry in batches in 180C oil for about four minutes until well browned and cooked through.

3. Spoon plenty of the curry sauce on mounded rice (or on the plate) and serve with the green peas and pork.