I love my wife’s cooking. For example, her chicken and rice is delicious. She does the best to make the most of the freshest ingredients. And simply put, like many dishes, Khao Man Gai is a dish that depends on the quality of cooking and freshness of ingredients to really make the flavors come alive.
When everything is made from fresh ingredients, the flavors are richer and sparkier. Also known as Hainanese Chicken in China, this dish is known as Khao Man Gai in Thailand. Although the spellings can vary, I like “Come On, Guy”.
But it does not matter what is called, as long as it is delicious. After all, chicken with rice is such a boring name and that misses the mark for this amazing dish. That is why I like to yell “Come on, Guy!” when I am getting ready to eat this dish. My wife does not appreciate my level of enthusiasm, but I remind her that her dish is so much more than chicken and rice.
Just so you know, I am more likely to try some of my wife’s peculiar eats, than she try some of my Western foods. However, she does like my spaghetti and meatballs. But that is an easy one, because they are absolutely delicious. And it is one of my recipes that I am most fond of because it represents one of my food journeys. Read the story for my revelation. Make them to see why I am particular proud of them.
Please understand, I am a simple man. I like good food and appreciate good cooking. My wife has made some amazing dishes for me. As well, I have made some amazing dishes for her and for my family and friends. I always try to learn more.
Whether it is watching the Food Network, or shows like The Chew or hunting down variations of recipes on the internet, I love food and learning how to make different food. The varieties of food available are only limited by one’s imagination. So many ingredients available and so much information available that empowers the amateur and professional chef alike to make an array of wonderful dishes.
For myself, I am constantly asking my wife how she cooks something and then reflecting on how a technique or ingredient could be used from that to make something I want to try and make.
Khao Man Gai is an example of me following this process. But instead of trying to change it into something else, all I wanted to do was replicate the dish. I was returning from Thailand to visit my family in the U.S. and asked my wife to show me how I could make her Thai chicken and rice for my family.
I took notes, wrote down her recipes, repeatedly interrogated her as to how to do something. But, she, like me, does not necessarily use a specific recipe to make a dish. Most cooking is about approximations and being able to adjust. Ingredients, like moods, can vary. It is important to be flexible, taste and adjust.
And like I said, I make simple dishes. Khao man gai has three main components: 1. The Chicken and Rice, 2. The Sauce 3. The Soup. This is usually about my maximum for number of things I want to be doing with one dish. But like all cooking, broken down into separate tasks and done, makes it easier.
The bar was set high. I had been trained by an expert and extreme critic, my wife, in the ultimate Thai chicken rice recipe or Hainanese Chicken Super Fantastic Throwdown.
Before I returned to the States, my wife’s last Khao Man Gai was amazing. The balance of flavor in her spicy condiment sauce was brilliant. A harmonious combination of savory, sweet and spicy.
I knew I would have to tone down the spicy for my family members and I did quite considerably. I worked for several hours in the kitchen. First, starting the simple and very flavorful side soup. Next, working on the spicy sauce made with chilies and cilantro. And finally, the components of chicken and rice.
I finished second. Now there were only two competitors, so this makes me last place and the first loser. My Chicken with Rice could not match my wife’s. The sauce was off, too. Partially for the lack of spice to adjust for my relatives blandness proclivities. And the soup was fine, but my wife’s version is more remarkable. In line with some of the very delicious and simple soups that seem to permeate some of the best Asian cuisines.
Another failure was that I had overindulged with the cilantro. It was like a salsa version of a tabbouleh made with cilantro. Too much green and not enough red. You can see in pictures of my wife’s dish the gentle red-colored sauce. Whereas mine kind of ended up looking like a wheat grass shot with tomato juice.
I am so thankful that my wife is an amazing cook and that we share this passion for good food together.
My wife is an amazing chef. Her food is delicious. I am passionate about cooking and will continue to explore far and wide for things that I can make or eat. Foods have amazing variations, never stop trying to eat or make something different.
Try to make the dish for yourself. An upcoming article will include her version of this amazing dish. At its core, a real Asian comfort food.