Khao Man Gai from Simply Julia

I’ve always admired people who do one thing and do it so well. One of the best examples of this is Nong Poonsukwattana from Nong’s Khao Man Gai in Portland, Oregon. She started off with a small food cart making one thing, traditional Thai khao man gai, and eventually grew to operate multiple brick-and-mortars all revolving around this wonderful dish of poached chicken, rice, broth, sliced cucumber, cilantro, and a ginger-garlic-soy sauce.

It’s seemingly simple, but the care and attention Nong pays is extraordinary. She renders the extra fat from the chicken with lots of aromatics and uses it to cook the rice. She poaches the chicken with more aromatics and uses that fortified stock in the rice, too; it’s also the broth you get with your meal. The sauce is so good that she started bottling it for eager customers. The whole thing is, in my mind and in the minds of so many others, a perfect meal. The feeling of eating there is so joyful and I appreciate that she pays as much attention to her staff as she does her cooking: Nong’s employees all receive full medical and dental insurance. Being that Nong’s is one of Grace’s favorite places in the world and we live far away from it, I set off to make a simple version we eat at home often. It’s not Nong’s, but it’s close and it’s comforting. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Serves 4

For the chicken

4 cups [1 liter] water
One 3-inch [7.5-cm] piece
fresh ginger, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1. pounds [680 g] boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

For the sauce

2 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon white miso paste (or Thai fermented soybean paste, which is more traditional)
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced
fresh ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

To serve

Cooked white rice, sliced
cucumber, and fresh cilantro leaves

First, prepare the chicken

Place the water, ginger, garlic, and salt in a medium saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Add the chicken, cover, and gently simmer until the chicken is firm to the touch and cooked through (cut into a piece to test it if you’d like), about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken sit in the warm broth while you prepare the sauce.

Next, prepare the sauce

Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

To serve

Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut into thick slices. Strain the broth through a sieve into a bowl or pitcher. Divide it among 4 small bowls. Divide the chicken among 4 large plates, top with the sauce, and put a bowl of broth on each plate. Add a scoop of rice, a pile ofcucumber, and some fresh cilantro to each plate. Serve immediately.

From the book SIMPLY JULIA by Julia Turshen. Copyright © 2021 by Julia Turshen. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

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Comments(2)

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Jenna

12 months ago

I’m making this tonight and gonna add in Julia’s quickles from her tofu recipe in Simply Julia. MMM.

erin

over 2 years ago

delicious! made this and loved it. very soothing. there is a typo though; 680 g is 1.5lbs chicken (not 1 lb)

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