khao man kai - chicken and rice

Firstly, I am taking the liberty of posting this to the fast food news 
spool as well as my usual groups, because the subject is a common "fast 
food" in Thailand. 

Anybody who has spent any length of time in Thailand -- indeed who has 
progressed beyond the International airport transfer lounge, will be 
aware that Thailand is awash with streetside vendors who serve 
everything from snacks and desserts to wholesome, nutritious meals. 

These basically fall into three groups:  

1) khao gaeng (literally curry and rice) stalls, sell a wide variety of 
"single plate" meals 

2) kuaitiao (pronounced "gw-eye-tea-ow", and meaning "noodles") sell a 
variety of noodle soups and stir fried noodle dishes 

3) khao man kai and mu daeng stalls, which sell chicken and rice and 
"red pork" and rice (some stalls specialise in only one of these meals). 

To watch a khao man kai chef at work is often to be dazzled by the 
virtuoso performance -- and nothing goes to waste. The chef takes a 
steamed chicken and quickly cuts of the head and neck, then trims off 
the wings, which are set aside to be deep fried (wings in a tempura 
style batter sell for 1 baht each or perhaps 2 for 3 baht - 4 to six 
cents American each - throughout Thailand), and the legs are chopped off 
and set aside (Thais in general don't relish dark meat, but you can 
request a drumstick if you want - otherwise they'll also be deep fried 
and sold for 5 baht each - 20 cents). The chicken is quickly slit down 
the breast bone and the two breasts are removed, and the carcase and 
neck tossed in the stock pan. The breast is placed on a cutting board, 
smacked with the flat of the cleaver blade and quickly sliced into bite 
sized pieces, served on a bed of rice that has been steamed in chicken 
broth, and delivered to the customer with a cupfull of chicken and 
pumpkin soup, and a couple of little bags containing bean source and 
fresh ginger.  

A local stall sells this meal for 15 baht a plate (60 cents), and 20 
baht (80 cents) for a "jumbo" portion. Once a week, when we are feeling 
lazy, my wife and I buy two jumbo portions and two deep fried chicken 
breasts, for a total of 60 baht ($2.40). 

Before you dismiss the prices on the basis that Thailand has a much 
lower average wage than the US, bear in mind the Kentucky Fried Chicken 
opened an outlet in town recently, and the KFC prices are within one or 
two baht of the prices KFC charge in America... 

So the process is continuous: bones are boiled to make stock, the stock 
is used to cook the chickens and rice, and to make soup, and the bones 
from the chickens are used to make more stock, and so the cycle 

Since I am sure most of my readers are not contemplating continuous 
production, you have two options: you can make it with water the first 
time and then store stock in the fridge for future use, or you can buy 
some bones and make some stock. Please do not use commercial stock or 
stock cubes, as it almost all has rather a lot of salt, and often MSG, 
in it, and the cooking of the rice will certainly concentrate this to 
the point that it will be unpleasant to eat. 

Finally in this preamble, let me say that the commercial sellers nearly 
all sell simple yellow bean sauce, bought commerically, and Thai 
purchasers may either eat it like that, or trick it up themselves at 
home. I include the instructions for preparing a more traditional (and 
tastier) sauce, below. 

This recipe serves 2 hungry people or four people with more modest 


The first step is, about a week before you want to eat the khao man kai, 
finely slice some prik chi fa (red jalapenos) and discard the seeds, 
then mix them with about twice their volume of rice vinegar, and leave 
to marinade (you need at least a tablespoon of chillis). 

When you are ready to cook, you need about 8 cups of unsalted chicken 
stock, made by boiling chicken bones in water for about 15 minutes. If 
you don't have stock, use water. 

Place the chicken in a large casserole, and cover with the stock. Add a 
few slices of phak thong (winter squash), to the pot, and simmer or 
poach over a low heat until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and tender. 

Remove and drain the chicken, then when it is cool enough to handle, cut 
off the wings and legs and reserve them for other dishes, remove the two 
chicken breasts, and smack them with a cleaver to dislodge the skin, 
which may be discarded if you are watching you weight. Cut the breasts 
into strips about half an inch wide, and cut the strips into bite sized 

Place one and a half cups of washed long grain rice in a saucepan, and 
add two and half cups of the chicken broth from cooking the chicken. 
Cook over moderate heat until the liquor is absorbed, and the rice is 
cooked (the finished rice should be slightly moist). 

Serve the chicken on a bed of the chicken steamed rice, garnished with 
coriander leaves, and accompanied by a good supply of sliced cucumber, 
with a cup of the chicken broth, and few pieces of squash as an 
accompanying soup, garnished with coriander leaves. 

This meal is accompanied by the following two sauces:-- 

--Bean sauce

You will need 

4 tablespoons of fermented yellow bean sauce 
4 tablespoons of the chicken broth from cooking your chicken 
1 tablespoon dark sweet soy sauce 
1 tablespoon of pickled jalapenos (prepared earlier) 
1 tablespoon minced garlic 
1 teaspoon of palm sugar 

This is mixed and tasted, if required you can add extra sugar, and some 
of the vinegar used to pickle the jalapenos, for balance. 

The second "sauce" consists of half a cup of freshly ground ginger.
Special thanks to - Muoi Khuntilanont.