The Chicken of My People (Khao Man Gai)

By vvvanessa
February 11, 2014
25 Comments


Author Notes: When I was growing up, my mom called her version of this very simple chicken dish "cold boiled-chicken" because it was essentially a boiled chicken served cold or sometimes sort of tepid but never blazing hot. The Chinese version, known as Hainanese chicken, is usually served with salted, skin-on peanuts and a garlicky, gingery condiment. The Thai version, called Khao Man Gai, is usually served warm on a bed of rice that's been cooked in chicken broth with a thick, spiced soybean paste and cucumber slices on the side.

My mom is Chinese and my dad is Thai, so is it any wonder that simple chicken and rice is one of my favorite dishes? For this recipe, I've streamlined the process considerably and made a simple mish-mash of the two styles; Instead of cooking the rice in the chicken broth made by the cooking the chicken, I just spoon a little of the savory liquid over the top, and the condiment I use is heavy on the green onions and only contains chiles if I'm craving them (because despite my genetic predisposition to like really spicy food, I don't). This recipe also employs the use of residual heat to cook the chicken, which warms the cockles of my energy-efficiency-loving heart.

Use white rice to go old-school or use brown for some flavor and fiber. If you have the patience and don't plan on eating the chicken sooner than later, go ahead and use the chicken cooking liquid to cook your rice. It will only make it that much more delicious.

To mince the green onions for the condiment, I slice them in quarters lengthwise before I work my way down each stalk; it's a good knife-skills exercise and helps to get evenly sized pieces of onion.

I usually eat my chicken warm-ish, but it's also great cold. The variations on this recipe are endless. Sometimes I'll go for a pho-like flavor in the broth, adding in a stick of cinnamon and a piece of star anise and a clove or two. You can also add a chunks of bitter melon (or another vegetable) to the broth to make it extra fortifying.
vvvanessa

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken
  • 4 slices of fresh ginger (peeled or unpeeled) plus 2 tablespoons finely minced (or grated on a Microplane) ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Coarse-grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced green onions (both green and white parts)
  • 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 1 Thai chile, seeded and finely minced (optional)
  • 4 cups cooked rice (white or brown, cooked in water or chicken stock)
  • Optional garnishes: salted and roasted skin-on peanuts, cucumber slices, fresh cilantro leaves, tomato slices, fried shallots or garlic, sliced green onions, chile sauce like Sriracha, soy sauce

Directions

  1. Put the whole chicken, breast and legs down, in a stock pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid and add in the chunks of ginger, garlic, black peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover the chicken completely with cold water (about 3 to 5 quarts, depending on the size of your chicken and pot). Full immersion of the chicken is key.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil, and let it go at full boil for 10 minutes. Skim off the scum if you like. Cut the heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the chicken sit for one hour.
  3. While the chicken cooks, make the condiment. Mix the minced ginger, green onions, oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and chiles (if using) together in a small bowl; the result is supposed to be salty and strong-tasting. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Carefully lift the chicken out of the pot and onto a platter or cutting board. Do not lift the chicken by any of its limbs or they will come off. Check to make sure the internal temperature is at least 170° F. Unless you have a freakishly large chicken, this should not be a problem. Let the chicken cool until it is no longer too hot to handle.
  5. Bring the broth back to a boil, then simmer it while the chicken cools down. Taste it and add a teaspoon or so more salt if you like (I like mine on the salty side).
  6. To serve, cut the chicken in pieces (I avoid chopping the legs in pieces because they tend to splinter and would rather just serve them whole) and place them alongside or on top of hot rice that has been doused with a tablespoon or so of chicken broth. Feel free to remove the skin. On the side, serve a small bowl of strained broth garnished with cilantro and green onions. Use the ginger-green onion condiment sparingly, and serve with a soy sauce creation and any of the garnishes mentioned, as desired.

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Chicken|Make Ahead|Gluten-Free|Entree|Snack

Reviews (25) Questions (0)

25 Comments

David J. February 18, 2017
Just out of curiosity, why can the comments not be edited by the person sending the comment?<br /><br />'nuf sed<br /><br />plamuk aka travellingchef
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa February 18, 2017
That's a questions best directed to the editors.
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa February 18, 2017
And I just realized there's a typo in my comment. Alas.
 
David J. February 17, 2017
First, to everybody, this recipe is a favourite street food here in Bangkok but with thinner slices of chicken. Most of what is written by VVVanessa is correct and is nearly authentic. Will not go into more details about that. There is a slightly different version using pieces of deep-fried chicken which are slices and served with the rice. However, a few things you may like to know. First, the original recipe is from China and called Hunan Chicken. Recipes do have a habit of migrating the same as people. Second, I have added two things; a recipe for the original spicy "hot" sauce, as well as the recipe for the soup which accompanies this dish. The combination takes things to a different level. There is a second sauce served with this type of chicken but it is not included as it tends to be very sweet. <br />Sauce<br /><br />85 ml/1/3 cup crushed and finely diced “old” fresh ginger, 4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely diced, 5-8 red or green Thai bird’s eye chillies stems removed and peppers crushed and finely diced, 125 ml/1/2 cup fermented soybean sauce, 125 ml/1/2 cup sugar, 65 ml/1/4 cup dark sweet soy sauce, 65 ml/1/4 cup "white" soy sauce (optional but good to include), 85 ml/1/3 cup white vinegar<br /><br />Winter Gourd Soup<br /><br />900 gr/2 lbs Chinese winter gourd (daikon or chayote may be substituted), prepared liquid from above, salt or fish sauce to taste<br /><br />Enjoy the combination. Until next time.<br /><br />plamuk aka travellingchef
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa February 18, 2017
Hi, travellingchef! I know this recipe lacks "authenticity"-- the idea was to combine the Thai and Chinese versions of this chicken dish. I originally titled the recipe "The Chicken of My People" to reflect this fusion, but I believe the editors subtitled it "Khao Man Gai," which this recipe is not. Your spicy sauce sounds great!<br />
 
Rachel January 29, 2016
Thanks so much--made this tonight and it was wonderful!
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa February 18, 2017
Thank you, Rachel!
 
clumsychef January 25, 2016
Made this tonight and it was simple and amazing. I used sesame oil instead of vegetable oil for the sauce - wow. Thank you for sharing!
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa January 25, 2016
Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the feedback. And yes, sesame oil is delicious!
 
lynn January 25, 2016
Near the end you suggest we "serve with a soy sauce creation." I'm too new to all this to understand at all what that means. Can anyone help?
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa January 25, 2016
I think I meant that you can mix soy sauce with crushed garlic or chili oil. I thought I had elaborated on that point, so thanks for pointing that out!
 
lynn January 25, 2016
Thank you. <br />One more question. Does "cut the heat" mean turn it off or turn it down or way down or ?
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa January 25, 2016
"Cut the heat" means turn it off. I need to do some editing!
 
Christinekim January 24, 2016
Sounds so good and can't wait to try it. <br />If I wanted to use pieces of chicken already cut and skinned and boneless - how long would I poach? Still the same amount of time? For instance, if we only wanted boneless skinless breasts? Trying to be a bit more healthy for themes year ;) thank you for sharing this recipe!
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa January 25, 2016
If you want to do the residual-heat method, I would look at 30-40 minutes for a boneless-skinless breast. Or you could just poach it with the heat on for 15-20 minutes. In either case, just double check that the internal temp hits 165ºF. I hope you enjoy it!
 
lynn January 30, 2016
I've never used this residual heat method of cooking and am confused. <br />Your recipe says to boil a whole chicken for 10 minutes and then let it sit for an hour. <br />In answer to Chritinekim's question about using cut-up chicken you say 30 to 40 minutes. Is that instead of the 10 minutes of boiling a whole chicken or instead of the hour you let it sit? <br />Would the poaching for 15 to 20 minutes mean that's how long you would cook it if you weren't using the residual-heat method?<br />Sorry to keep asking questions. I'd really like to give this a try!
 
Christinekim February 2, 2016
Thanks, vvvanessa, I did it poaching with the heat on, but it really took only 8-9 minutes (right after the water started boiling, I set the heat to low and covered and cooked on low for 8-9 minutes). They probably could have stayed in just 8 minutes and been okay. This was so delicious! We loved it and will be adding to our regular recipe repertoire. Thank you for sharing! I can't wait to try the whole chicken method.
 
sage January 22, 2016
this is so exciting! i've been wanting a reliable khao man gai recipe for years. Thank you thank you can't wait to try it
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa January 25, 2016
I hope you like it! And if you ever get to try a real khao man gai (hopefully in Thailand), just remember that mine's a hybrid and would probably not pass Thai-grandma muster!
 
weshook April 10, 2015
Oh, you brought back memories. My dad would make a garlicky oily soy sauce for dipping or actually drizzling over the chicken. He would finely mince the garlic, add the soy sauce and then pour the hot oil into the mixture sending this amazing aroma of fried garlic and cooked soy sauce throughout the house.
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa January 25, 2016
I am so making garlicky oil soy sauce next time!
 
savorthis February 11, 2014
I sure do like the way "your people" eat :)
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa February 18, 2014
We'd love to have you join us sometime :)
 
AntoniaJames February 11, 2014
Wonderful head note, wonderful recipe. (As usual.) ;o)
 
Author Comment
vvvanessa February 11, 2014
Aw, thanks!