Most nights I usually cook myself something to eat. I don’t really do this to save money as it is quite often cheaper to eat outside. That is as long as you know where to eat. Take this dish as an example. It is called khao mun gai ( ข้าวมันไก่ ) which is basically chicken on rice. A normal plate like this, around the corner from me, costs only 20 baht (about 50 cents). For an extra 5 baht, called “piset” in Thai, you get some extra chicken. Not bad for a meal.
On the other hand, if you go to KFC, which a lot of Thai people do, a plate of Spicy Chicken Rice would set you back 49 baht. A Zinger burger would cost you 55 baht. Three pieces of chicken cost 87 baht. See what I mean? You are better off eating by the side of the road. Who cares about the secret recipe they have at KFC. If you like fried chicken, like they have at KFC, all you have to ask for is “khao mun gai tod” which is the same price! They even give you some cucumber and a bowl of soup!
Chinese Chicken Rice is quite easy to prepare. All you have to do is place the chicken in a pot, add water, salt and coriander roots, and cook over a low heat until done. Skim off any froth to get the clear broth. Remove the chicken, de-bone and cut into slices. Strain the broth and set aside. Then wash the rice, drain and set aside. Heat some oil in a wok, fry the garlic over medium heat until fragrant and golden. Add the rice, stirring well and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to an electric rice cooker, pour two cups of chicken broth over the rice and cook until the rice is done. Spoon the rice onto a serving dish, arrange the chicken slices on top, garnish with sliced cucumber.
Source: “Popular Thai Cuisine” published by Sangdad Books
The above picture shows you the two different dips available for this dish. Actually, for the first timer it can be very confusing about which sauce or dip (known as “nam jim” in Thai) that should be used for each dish. If you go to a restaurant, it is quite normal to have a half dozen dips put on saucers on your table. Believe me, it takes a while to get used to which one is meant for which dish. This kind of thing is not taken lightly by the Thais. Remember I told you a few months back about my experience at one of the local “pork on a hot plate” places. Here you can eat as much as you can cook yourself for only 69 baht. These places are really popular and there must be at least a dozen within a 10 minute radius of my house. What makes or breaks these places is their secret recipe for their “nam jim”. Forget about the ambience or range of meats on offer. Thai people are only interested in the dips!
Anyway, back to “khao mun gai” and “khao mun gai tod”. The dip on the left is for the former and the one on the right is for the latter! The brown looking one is made from soybean sauce, chili, ginger, sugar, vinegar and dark soy sauce. The red one is much sweeter. It is made up of sugar, red chili, garlic, vinegar and salt. I do like this one and have a large bottle in my kitchen cupboard. You use it for dips for food like fried chicken or fried shrimps.