I never heard of Hainan Chicken growing up, not surprising since I grew up in New England, but my parents never mentioned it. However, one of my favorite dishes that my mom would make was congyouji, or scallion-oil chicken. I find it very similar to Hainan Chicken, though rice is not a required component of congyouji. Can @jlee or any other Chinese chefs/food scholars shed some light on any connection between these two dishes?
If you think about Asians and their relationship to livestock inudstrialization did not come about until later on compared to Western civilization so beef and pork are special occassion animals which when slaughtered produce way more meat than one family can eat. So chicken is the natural animal of choice for single family dinner and boiling water in a vessel is the most common form of cooking for Asians which is why you see so many variations across Asia. Whether its hainan chicken, white cooked, tinola, khao man gai, or Korean ginseng chicken. Its a very logical solution to put protein on the table.
He’s working on a brick & mortar so unfortunately the only time he’s serving it on a regular basis is at Chinatown After Dark which is the first Thursday of each month. Too bad this article didn’t come out until after.