Hainan Chicken, aka Khao Mun Gai


It’s been a bit of a rough week. I caught a cold right after coming back from vacation (which did not lend to its believability at work, let me tell you). The problem with going on vacation is that the work you put aside doesn’t go away. It sits. And waits. And accumulates. So come today, all I really wanted to do was cry “Mommie!” and curl up in bed with my Donald duckie. *Cough* That aside, my mother is 400 miles away so I figured the next best thing was to whip up her signature dish and my ultimate comfort food: Hainan chicken and rice.

Thai-style Hainan chicken, also known as “Khao Mun Gai” (Chicken-fat Rice), starts out in the same way as the Chinese dish as far as I can tell, but the secret here is in the sauce. I’ll attempt to relay the exact ingredients I used for you here, but this dish really is a labor of love. There is no measuring here. This dish is one of those dishes that can only be made by feel. I recently found a quote that perfectly represents what I mean:

“You have to love either what you are going to eat, or the person you are cooking for. Then you have to give yourself up to cooking. Cuisine is an act of love.” – Alain Chapel

Indeed. Let me show you my love.

The first step in making Khao Mun Gai is to boil the chicken. Some people steam, I boil. In this case, I took a half a chicken (on the bone, very important), brought it to a boil in a large pot with enough water to cover the chicken, and added a couple teaspoons of salt. Simmer the chicken for at least an hour, or until tender, adding water to keep the chicken submerged if necessary. Skim off the foamy bits and discard.

Once the chicken is done, remove it from the broth and set aside. Let the broth cool to lukewarm. Cook up some rice using the chicken broth as the cooking liquid. Make sure you add some of the oily part of the broth to the rice. That’s the whole point of “Chicken-fat Rice”! Throw in a handful of chopped ginger and garlic, and set that sucker to cook.


While waiting for the rice, you can start the best part of the dish: the sauce! The main ingredients are as follows:

  • 1/2 c. Cilantro, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp. Black bean sauce
  • 4 tbsp. Dark soy sauce (find it at an Asian grocery store)
  • 1 tbsp. Regular soy sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 3 tbsp. Ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • Jalapenos, as many as you’d like
  • 1 ladle of the chicken broth, to thin out the sauce
  • 1 clove Garlic

These measurements are all approximations. Throw them all into a blender and adjust to your liking. Go easy on the garlic because it will cause the sauce to be bitter if you add more than one clove.

Traditionally, this dish is served with a clear broth soup made from the chicken broth. Sometimes the broth comes plain, and other times it has green onions or cucumbers in it.


For me the meal isn’t complete without the soup. It’s so simple to make, so why not? Using the leftover chicken broth, add sugar, fish sauce, and white pepper to taste. I seeded and chopped up a cucumber to add to my soup. Garnish with cilantro, and voila~!

Putting It All Together

Debone the cooked chicken and remove the skin, if preferred. Lay the chicken over a scoop of the fatty rice and ladle sauce on top of all that. Enjoy with a side of the soup!



3 Responses

  1. so are you saying you love yourself very much?

  2. my mom makes this and i always think of home whenever i eat this. i LOVE this dish…

  3. Yeah, I think I asked my mom for her recipe after living with you and seeing you make it. šŸ˜›

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