Khao Man Kai (Chicken Rice) is a dish that you can easily make at home, especially now that you don’t need to cook a whole chicken with this modernised recipe. Just follow these delicious instructions from Chef Thaninthorn “Noom” Chantrawan, head chef of Chim by Siam Wisdom (one MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2021). Chef Chantrawan blended the best from chicken rice dishes from across the region, including Malaysia, China, Singapore, and Hainan, to appeal to Thai palates. This recipe not only features modern cooking techniques but also showcases, as the main ingredient, Benja Chicken, a premium chicken for everyone. The chicken is known for its tenderness and juiciness without antibiotics or chemicals. And to add visual appeal to this tasty dish, there are tips on elevating it to a fine-dining level.
“I’ve explored chicken rice preparations for a while now. Each recipe has its unique signature that some may like while others won’t. The dipping sauce may appeal to some and not to others. So, if I want to make chicken rice, I have to ask, why not make a recipe that I like? I studied to find out where the oiliness, the fragrance, the colour comes from and then made the recipe my own. Even if different chicken rice dishes look similar, the truth is that you can always add something new. Like in this recipe, you cook the rice with saffron, but it will still have that unctuousness and aroma from the chicken.
As for the chicken, experts in the past used to say you must boil a whole chicken. That’s a lot of chicken for this modern era of smaller families. But now, you don’t need to cook a whole chicken, especially when techniques like sous vide, brining, and roulade means you can do well with chicken pieces you can find at any supermarket,” shared Chef Chantrawan regarding the inspiration for this special Benja chicken rice, a classic Asian street food dish adapted to be a delicious home-cooked meal.
This recipe highlights Benja Chicken, raised under NSF International (National Sanitation Foundation) safety and hygiene standards and certification. This guarantees that the chickens have not been given any hormones or antibiotics and are fed with brown rice for fragrant, tender, and juicy meat.
Boiled chicken ingredients
• Benja Chicken, as much as needed (Instead of an entire chicken, you can choose ready-to-cook portions such as whole chicken leg)
• Steamed chicken blood, as much as preferred
• 1 to 1.5L water
• 6 or 7 coriander roots
• 3g cardamom
• 3g cloves
• 150g sea salt
• 80g palm sugar
• 100g Chinese cooking wine (Tiao Chiew)
• Jasmine rice (for old crop jasmine rice, use 1:1.2 ratio rice to stock; for new rice, use less stock to prevent sogginess)
• 150g chicken fat
• 30g garlic
• 150g butter
• 50g sliced ginger
• 3 or 4 coriander roots
• 5 shallots
• 6 or 7 pandan leaves
• 3 or 4 lemongrass stalks
• 5 or 6 saffron threads
• 1,200g chicken stock
How to cook the chicken:
1. Set chicken aside.
2. Boil the water in a large pot and add the coriander root, cardamom, cloves, palm sugar, salt, and Chinese cooking wine.
3. Once brought to a boil, remove from heat, and let the liquid cool to room temperature. Place the chicken in the liquid to brine and soak in the flavours for at least 12 hours.
4. Remove the chicken meat, separating and putting the skin aside. Roll the meat to make a roulade to sous vide at 68°C for 25 minutes.
5. Place the sous vide roulade in cold water then slice and serve with steamed chicken blood, rice, and dipping sauce.
6. If you aren’t a fan of steamed chicken blood, the chef recommends frying slices of lightly floured steamed chicken blood. The trick is to soak the chicken blood in plain milk for one hour to remove the smell and to add a little paprika to the dry batter.
How to make the rice:
1. Wash the rice thoroughly and strain.
2. Heat a pan then cook the chicken fat with the garlic until fragrant. Add a little butter, then the ginger, coriander root, shallots, pandan leaves, lemongrass, and saffron.
3. Fry together until fragrant then remove from heat. Stir in the washed rice, making sure that the mixture coats every grain.
4. Pour the coated rice into the rice cooker. Add the chicken stock and stir well before turning on the cooker.
Chef Chantrawan’s special dipping sauce
- Mix together the following ingredients:
- 120g high-quality soy bean paste
- 30g miso paste
- 50g granulated sugar dissolved in 50g water
- 60g rice vinegar
- 30g sweet dark soy sauce
- 50g bird’s eye chillies, chopped
- 60g aged ginger, finely chopped
- 30g fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 60g garlic, finely chopped
How to serve Benja Chicken Rice
Place the chicken slices together next to the rice and add vegetables, such as cucumbers, to your liking, alongside. For sauces, you could use ready-made sauces garnished with chopped chillies or ginger, but we recommended making Chef Chantrawan’s special dipping sauce for the fully special Benja Chicken Rice experience.
Hero photo: © Anuwat Senivansa Na Ayudhya / MICHELIN Guide Thailand