You can find many versions of Khao Man Gai in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. This dish has made some street food stalls in Asia gain Michelin stars. Each stall has its own signature sauce or secret way of cooking its chicken.
The Thai version of Khao Man Gai calls for lean and tasty chicken meat, clear soup with winter melon, and a pungent chili sauce made with fermented soybeans. This dish is flavored with glorious and tasty chicken fat, which gives the rice its buttery texture and its name (Khao Man Gai means chicken-fat rice in Thai). If you don't want to use chicken oil, you can substitute for vegetable oil, but you will be missing the true flavors of this dish!
- For the Chicken:
- 1 whole chicken (eviscerated)
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 2 coriander roots
- For the Rice:
- 1/4 cup Thai garlic (chopped)
- 1 pound Thai Jasmine rice
- 1 tablespoon salt
- For the Soup:
- 3 cups winter melon (cubed)
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- 5 sprigs cilantro
- For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup ginger (sliced)
- 1/4 cup garlic (peeled)
- 5 to 10 Thai bird's eye chili
- 1 cilantro roots stalk
- 2 tablespoon fermented soybean sauce
- 2 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken broth
- For Garnish:
- Cucumber (sliced on a bias)
- Cilantro (chopped)
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Thai dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparing and cooking.
For the Chicken
Gather the ingredients.
Remove the chicken skin and set aside to make chicken oil later.
In a large pot, add the chicken and cover with enough water so that the chicken is completely submerged. Add the salt and coriander roots into the water. Bring your pot to high heat.
Once the water is boiling, reduce to low heat. Cook the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes.
Check to see if your chicken is cooked, and remove it from the broth to cool on the side.
For the Rice
Bring a small pan to medium heat and add the chicken skin.
Cook the chicken skin until all the oil is released. Cook for 10 minutes and remove the chicken skin. Turn the heat on low.
Add the chopped garlic to the hot oil, and let it fry in the pan. Continually stir the garlic so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes.
Once the garlic is a golden brown, put it in a bowl along with the chicken oil it cooked in.
In an medium sized pot, rinse your rice with water until the water is clear. Drain the water from the rice.
Add the fried garlic and chicken oil to the rice and mix well.
Pour in chicken broth reserved from making the chicken until it covers the rice. You can measure if you have enough broth by putting your index finger to touch the top of the rice. The broth should reach your first joint line on your finger.
Add salt to taste and mix into the rice.
When the rice comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid.
Cook for 20 minutes and check on your rice. When the rice is finished cooking, open the cover and fluff it up with a fork.
For the Soup
Peel the winter melon and remove the seeds. Cut the winter melon into 2-inch pieces.
Bring your chicken broth to a boil and add the winter melon.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the winter melon for 15 minutes until soft.
Turn off the heat and add the chopped cilantro.
For the Sauce
Put the ginger, garlic, chili, and cilantro root into the blender and pulse until they are roughly chopped.
Add the fermented soybean sauce, white vinegar, sugar, dark soy sauce, and chicken broth into the mixture. Blend together, and keep little chunks for texture.
Using a small soup bowl, fill it with the cooked rice, pat it down, then flip it over onto a plate to create a nice round mound of rice.
Next, using a carving knife or a chef's knife, carve the cooked chicken; slicing the breast meat.
Place the sliced breast meat on top of the rice mound, garnishing it with sliced cucumber and cilantro. Serve with a small bowl of the soup and another small dish filled with the sauce.