kao man gai

I’m not one for detoxing, or even healthy eating, in January. But kao man gai, or Hainanese poached chicken and rice,┬áis both healthy and very delicious. It’s probably one of Thailand’s best loved dishes, a street food classic originally from China and rarely seen in Thai restaurants in the West. Also perfect for a cold January in London.

kao man gai

There are five components to the dish – a simple soup made from the chicken, served with poached chicken, rice cooked with chicken stock and garlic, a spicy, yellow bean and ginger sauce and a garnish of cucumber and coriander.

Serves two, but there is enough chicken here to make at least another two portions, so you can repeat the recipe later in the week.


For the chicken and rice:

1.5 whole raw chicken

3 litres water

1 tsp sesame oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

200g jasmine rice


For the soup:

3 tsp light soy sauce

Ground white pepper and salt, to season

1 large spring onion, chopped

1 tbsp coriander leaves


For the garnish:

Half a cucumber, sliced

1 tbsp coriander leaves


For the yellow bean and ginger sauce:

2 garlic cloves, peeled

3 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp wine vinegar

i tbsp yellow bean sauce

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 thai chillis, finely sliced

1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Yellow bean and ginger sauce

Remove the breasts and legs from the chicken, remove and reserve the skin covering these pieces.

Place the carcass (minus the wings if you would like to roast them separately as a snack) and place in 3 litres of water. Bring to the boil rapidly and skim, then simmer for 1.5 hours to make a stock.

Meanwhile, prepare the yellow bean and ginger sauce by pounding the garlic, ginger, salt and pepper into a paste in a pestle and mortar, then adding the other ingredients, mixing well.

To prepare the rice, chop half of the chicken skin into small pieces and fry in the sesame oil until most of its fat has been extracted, around 5 minutes. Then remove the pieces of skin and add the chopped garlic clove to the oil, cooking until lightly golden. Then add the rinsed and drained jasmine rice and season with salt. Stir the rice in the seasoned oil a few times then add 350ml of the chicken stock to the rice. Mix, cover and place on a low heat until cooked.

While the rice is cooking, poach two of the chicken breasts or legs in the stock.

When the chicken is cooked, prepare the soup by adding the spring onion, soy sauce and coriander to 600ml of stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In Thailand, the soup may have some gourd added, but unfortunately North London is sometimes all out of gourd.

Serve the chicken with the rice, cucumber and additional coriander leaves on a plate with the sauce and soup on the side.

Keep the rest of the stock and remaining chicken and sauce for next time!

kao man gai

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