If it's not hainanese it's not really 'Khao Man Gai'
These days, as in the past, the only authentic version of this classic dish is prepared in a skilful and carefully prescribed way by cooks whose ancestry can be traced to the Chinese island
Few people will refuse a plate of khao man gai (chicken with rice), at least as long as a crucial condition is met _ it must be the authentic Hainanese versions of the dish. The true aficionado of this dish will probably walk away from the khao man gai sold in food courts or from roadside stalls, where it is usually prepared by vendors from Isan rather than by Hainanese chefs. Also to be avoided are the places that sell khao man gai together with rice topped with Chinese red pork or grilled duck. The cooks there are unlikely to be experts at preparing real khao man gai.
READY FOR THE POT: Woen Sang chicken, in Hainan, China, cut into pieces and set on a plate.
Khao man gai is a symbol of people from Hainan, and it does seem as if some kind of divine influence has endowed them with the ability to make the dish with an excellence no one else can rival. At home on the island of Hainan, they raise a native breed of chicken that is the best for preparing this dish. The Woen Sang district in particular is a source of these chickens at their best, so much so that Hainanese speak of gai Woen Sang _ Woen Sang chicken _ as a standard of unsurpassable quality. The meat of the chicken is thick and tender, and the skin is also thick and of the preferred yellow colour. The technique used to cook the rice to be eaten with it is special, too.
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