Known as Thai street food, Khao Man Gai is plentiful in Thailand and is based on a Hainanese (Hainan is an island off the coast of China) dish made similarly of boiled chicken, rice and broth.
What sets the Thai version apart, is its spicy, fermented soybean sauce, which is not too hot and full of vibrant flavor. Served with cooling, sliced cucumber, topped with cilantro and accompanied by a fortifying cup of deeply-stewed chicken stock with floating greens, this comforting dish will have you hooked. All made that much easier with a Cuisinart -- for chopping shallots and whipping up the addictive, brightly flavored sauce.
As an added bonus, this dish, laden with broth, ginger, garlic and watercress is extremely good for the immune system and will be a welcome comfort to an aching body.
Though this recipe appears to have many steps -- they all really work in concert with one another, for a perfectly timed dish that, with the right tools (like a Cuisinart food processor)can take as little as 35-40 minutes total prep and cooking time.
1 package of two bone-in chicken breasts, roughly 1.5 lbs(remove skin and reserve for rice)
2 teaspoon salt
3 qt water
4 chunks fresh ginger (about 3 inches total) sliced, peeled and smashed)
2 (3 to 4 inch-long) fresh jalapeno or serrano chiles
1 large shallot
2 inches of peeled fresh ginger
3 medium garlic cloves
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 Tbsp Sun Luck black bean garlic sauce
1 cup jasmine rice
4 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoon rendered chicken fat
For Drinking Broth:
1 cup of freshly made broth from boiling chicken
3 cups chicken broth (I prefer low sodium, organic versions)
2 cups veggie broth (I prefer low sodium, organic versions)
1 bunch of watercress (remove stems)
1 cucumber (English or seedless are preferred but all other types work as well)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon sesame oil
Handful of finely chopped, fresh cilantro leaves
No nutrition information available
Remove fat and set aside for rice. (See Rice section below.)
Timing with this dish is crucial. I recommend actually starting the cooking of the chicken, simultaneously with the cooking (not prep) portion of the rice.
Bring water, salt and ginger to a boil. Add chicken, breast side down, bone up in water and return to a boil, covered. Reduce heat and simmer chicken, covered, 10 minutes turn of heat and let chicken stand in hot broth, covered until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Time this to be ready, as your rice is complete.
Remove chicken from pot and let cool to warm for ease of handling. (See Final Assembly below)
Skim 1 cup of top layer of broth broth and add to your broth pot. (See Drinking Broth section below)
Depending on the heat you want in your dish, remove all or some of the seeds from your peppers (and stems, of course.) I remove all seeds and cut into four pieces each and add to the Cuisinart. Smash garlic with mallet or butcher knife to remove skin and release flavor — add to Cuisinart. Remove skin from shallot, and add. Squeeze ⅓ cup lime juice and add to the processor, along with salt. Pulse with the "S" blade, until all ingredients are minced but not liquid. Add fish sauce, vinegar, black bean and garlic sauce to processor and pulse just until mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning (spicier, more stringent or salty) to your taste. Remember the sauce’s flavor, like salsa, will develop even more as it sits. The texture should be a chunky sauce, like a finely minced salsa. Since the sauce’s ingredients should be your first prep (though, you can wait to pulse them til closer to completion) you’ll need to watch timing if you prefer a milder flavor (or reduce ginger, garlic and chile ingredients). If you would like to keep the sauce from developing too spicy, refrigerate until serving.
Drinking Broth Prep & Cooking:
Once chicken is done, remove from water and set aside. To streamline overall cooking time, I cheat on the soup a bit by skimming the top of the broth from the freshly cooked chicken (it has the most fat and therefore the most flavor) and adding store bought stock, a mix of veggie and chicken broths to add depth of flavor. Pour them all into a sauce pan and bring to a boil adding the watercress and allowing to boil just until leaves get bright green. Then shut off the heat and let sit while plating the rest of the dish. Serve in small bowls that you can easily drink from with pieces of fresh watercress floating inside.
Take fat, removed and reserved from boiling chicken breast, and add to small saucepan with ¼ cup water and let boil and render until water has evaporated and fat has boiled out of the skin. Remove from heat and lift leftover skin from pan, disposing of it. You should have close to 2 tablespoon of chicken fat, if not, augment with canola or vegetable oil. Prepare shallots and garlic (peeling and finely chopping with the "S" blade in your Cuisinart.) Rinse the rice in cold water until it runs clear (this helps remove some starches and keeps rice from getting too sticky.)
Add shallots to chicken fat and saute until golden brown, add garlic and stir for another minute, then add rice stirring until coated with fat and flavor. Add broth and let boil until bubbling throughout rice (about 3 minutes), reduce heat to simmer and cover, cooking until water is evaporated (15 minutes.) Remove from heat, let stand covered (5 minutes.) Fluff with fork and begin plating process.
While rice and chicken are cooking, combine the soy sauce and sesame oil, set aside. Remove stems from cilantro and finely chop (as much as you like to top your dish — I do about 2 tablespoon finely chopped.)
With your vegetable peeler, peel the cucumber and then proceed to make long cucumber ribbons, soaking them in ice water until the dish is ready.
When all components are ready, assemble by tearing or cutting the chicken into chunks in a large bowl then toss with soy/sesame mixture. Plate the rice and top with the dressed chicken. Arrange the chilled and drained cucumber ribbons around the rice and chicken on the plate. Do not place them on top of the hot dishes — they are meant to remain, cool and crisp as a cool down if you make the dish hot or as a refreshing palate cleanser. Top the chicken and rice with your cilantro garnish and dish up helpings of the sauce in separate ramekins, so that each individual can dole out the amount of spicy flavor they would like topping their dish.
Serve alongside the warm watercress drinking broth — this is both savory and soothing, adding another complex dimension to the dish.
Though this dish has many components, which make timing a concern, it actually quite an easy dish to make for a weeknight dinner and once it has been mastered, can be put together in about 35-40 minutes. Try it the first time, on a weekend to get a feel for the timing and prep — you will not be disappointed.
Substitute tofu, veggie broth and vegetable oil for chicken ingredients. I recommend freezing firm tofu and then defrosting it the day of,to give it a more “meaty” consistency, then drain, slice into strips or cubes and let dry on a towel while prepping rice (shallots, garlic and veggie oil with a dash of sesame oil and veggie broth.) Once sauce (sans fish sauce- add soy sauce), rice and soup are ready. Saute prepped tofu in 1 tablespoon canola oil, until golden on both sides. Plate rice, toss tofu with soy/sesame dressing and place atop rice, garnish with cilantro and cucumber and serve with sauce and soup.