As we highlight in our very first post, one of our favourite Thai dishes is the simple and humble, yet tasty khao man gai.
Despite being commonly found with street vendors, this is a meal you are unlikely to find in Western Thai restaurants – that said we hear there is a street food chain in Portland, Oregon run by a Bangkok lady called Nong, that is fairly well known for it so perhaps in time we will see it alongside pad thai and green curry?
The dish actually originates from China, and is also very popular in Singapore and Malaysia where it is known as Hainanese chicken rice. However don’t ever try and tell a Thai person this! They are likely to tell you quite firmly that khao man gai originated in Thailand, and that in fact Hainanese chicken rice is a poor imitation!
Khao man gai is generally considered more of a “high end” street food as it can be fairly complicated to make, and requires more appliances than say khao pad gai (chicken fried rice). That said, this is by no means reflected in the price – you can still expect to pay between 30-50 baht for it depending on the stand’s location (the more touristy the spot you are in, the more you can expect to pay for your food). It is also worth remembering that this dish is generally usually only available for breakfast and lunch.
Whole chickens are steeped at sub-boiling temperatures of pork and chicken stock and is then dipped in ice after cooking to produce that jelly like skin finishing.
The dish itself is tender boiled chicken breast served with rice that is cooked in garlic, ginger and chicken fat (this is often referred to as “oily rice” – we understand those who have not tried it may grimace at this, but this makes the rice so tasty). It is accompanied by a bowl of chicken broth sprinkled with coriander and a spicy dipping sauce made of garlic, chillis, ginger, black vinegar, lime and soy sauce – we like to tip this all over our chicken and rice to give our meal a real kick.
A variation of this dish would probably be very easy to make at home.
No matter where you buy this dish, be it from street vendors in Khao San Road to those dotted along Sukhumvit, the presentation of this dish is always the same:
The rice is piled high onto the plate, with the strips of chicken served on top with slices of cucumber and a chunk of congealed chickens blood (yes we do have to admit we always leave this little bit of the dish – whilst we love our food even we have our limits!).
Have we whet your taste buds now? Are you salivating at the thought of moist chicken, garlicky fatty rice and a spicy ginger sauce all combined? We know we are just by typing this!
Are you a khao man gai fan? If so where have you had your best dish? Any street stalls you can recommend that we may not have tried?