The Intrepid Chef – Thai Style Chicken and Rice – Khao Man Gai

Khao Man GaiIMG_1711

I am in awe of the street food scene/food trucks in America. Unfortunately we just don’t have the same street food culture here in South Africa yet, although I have noticed that there are a few food trucks that have started to pop up in the last year. Admittedly I love the trendy concept of street food and I am on a mission to create some of it in my own kitchen. Yesterday I was watching Andy Bates street food (America) and was inspired by the myriad of different foods one can buy on the street from Mexican to Thai to gourmet burgers. I am a total Thai and Vietnamese food junkie; I love the clean, fresh and vibrant taste of the food. When watching the programme yesterday I saw a young lady who had arrived from Thailand with a few dollars in her pocket to try to make it in America on the street food scene. She explained that in Thailand the successful street food vendors only make one dish and make it really well. Her chosen dish was Khao Man Gai or chicken and rice and might I add she has been so successful that she has made it into magazines and newspapers. She sold out in 1 hour once the press got a whiff of her Khao Man Gai! As she demonstrated how to make this meal I was salivating at the thought of it and got this insane need to cook it (yes I get this feeling often!) I decided to make Thai chicken and rice for dinner last night. Just my luck both my kids and husband who are avid eaters of my food where sick with a stomach bug and could not face the thought of eating. Instead of feeling forlorn I invited my brother (who also loves food and has a good palate for flavors) to come and enjoy it with me and to get an opinion on the dish. Well my brother only had one word to say “AMAZING “ I know the recipe may look long and complicated but trust me it’s very methodical and easy to do, you won’t regret it. It is morishly delicious and full of authentic Thai flavor! NOW get to your local Chinese or Thai store and buy the ingredients you need. Then all that’s left to do is make it, eat it and love it!


Here’s the recipe;

Serves 4



  • 1.6kg Chicken
  • I tablespoon salt
  • 4 cilantro/coriander roots, bruised
  • Whole garlic
  • Water to cover the chicken


  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth to cook the rice
  • 1 small chopped onion or shallot
  • 4 thumb size slices of ginger
  • 2 cilantro/coriander roots bruised
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil or 5 tablespoons of the reserved chicken fat from the broth.


  • 1/4 cup of soybean sauce
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 2 and half tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon thin/light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 4 Thai chili pepper chopped or to your taste
  • 3 ½ tablespoons ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoon water


  • 12 sprigs of coriander
  • 20 Cucumber slices, pickled

To pickle cucumber slices:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water


To make the chicken and broth:


  1. Bring 10-12 cups of water to boil.
  2. Add salt, bruised cilantro root, whole garlic and the whole chicken. Add more water to cover the chicken and reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through (- 30-45 minutes)
  4. Skim the fat from the top and save it for later.
  5. Take the chicken out and let it rest before deboning it and slicing it into pieces.
  6. Strain the chicken broth and save it for later.

To make the rice:

  1. Wash the jasmine rice until the water runs clear (this requires about 6 washes)
  2. Fry the onion and garlic in 5 tablespoons of the reserved chicken fat from the broth or the canola oil.
  3. Stir in the jasmine rice so that it’s well coated with the fat.
  4. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth and stir.
  5. Add the ginger and cilantro roots and simmer until rice is done. Note: this rice is slightly sticky so the grains will be stuck together.

To make the dipping sauce:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust as needed. It should be salty, sweet, sour and hot.It does taste quite strong but works well with the meal.

 To make the pickled cucumber:

  1.  Mix the ingredients and add the cucumber slices to pickle for 20 minutes or more.

To Serve:

Place a scoop of the rice on your plate, I used a rind to make it nicely round (yes, I know it’s a bit chefie)

  1. Arrange the sliced chicken besides it.
  2. Serve with 3 sprigs of cilantro per plate, a small bowl of the dipping sauce and 5 slices of pickled cucumber.

I like to serve a small cup (125ml) of the chicken broth with the meal with a cilantro leaf on the top.

Note: I struggled to buy cilantro with the roots on, most greengrocers cut them off, so I used the stem/green part. I didn’t have palm sugar instead I substituted it with castor sugar.

What to do with the left over broth:

Make a chicken and corn noodle soup.

Recipe inspiration from Rachel cooks Thai.



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