Shophouse is an architectural style often seen in South East Asian cities and towns in which the business is at the street level and the family quarters are in the back or upstairs. Business and family are only separated by thin cement walls and inevitably the two realms mix creating a unique retail experience. The retail experience that we are interested in is the dining and eating experience. To us, Thai cuisine is all about eating among the cacophony of family, friends, strangers and whoever happens to be nearby.

Monday, May 2, 2011

rice fat chicken

food court chicken rice
ข้าวมันไก่ or khao mun gai is the Thai version of Hainanese chicken rice. No lunchtime market would be complete without a khao mun gai seller.
The dish itself appears to be quite simple, but the details are complicated. To begin with one must choose the right bird. I prefer a more tender chicken, so I go with a younger bird. Some might say that an older bird is better because it creates more flavor. It is up to the cook.
Then the cooking begins. One can get really into the details, like brining or the intricacies of poaching, but here it is quickly in a nutshell: Put the chicken in a big pot, top it with water and simmer the bird till cooked through. The chicken is then cooled. Pull off some of the fat off the cooked bird, ladle some of the fat off the broth, smash some garlic and fry it all in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the rice, coat it with the fat and add enough broth to cook the rice. Add some ginger, pickled lime and winter melon to the broth, let it simmer till the melon is super soft and remove the lime before it gets too bitter. The sauce is also an item of contention, everyone has their own sauce, ours is a smashed mixture yellow bean paste, ginger, prik ki noo chili and dark soy. When the rice is done you are ready to eat. Lay a bed of rice down, top it with some sliced chicken, put some broth in a bowl, put a crank of white pepper and sliced green onion in it, add enough of the sauce for your liking, add some sliced cucumber and top it all with cilantro. Eat.
Oh yeah, in Thailand the chicken is served room temperature, but here in Seattle where it is cold for 9 months we heat the chicken up in the broth, it is up to you.