I’m going to start off with - “This is an amazing recipe and you should just make it.” I had the original chicken rice version over at a Thai friend’s house and the dish - well, in particular, the sauce really changed my taste buds for the better.

This whole dish - the rice and the “chicken” are perfumed with cilantro, garlic and ginger. The rice is toasted to give it a richer flavor. The sauce is a mix of savory, sweet, sour and spicy flavors. It is the perfect embodiment of Thai flavors.

Turning this dish vegan was a bit tricky, but I have tips and substitutions for each stage of this recipe.

#1 Chicken and Broth

For the chicken, I used a vegan chicken strips. Since I am not able to make my own chicken broth from using chicken, I turned to using a vegan chicken broth mix.

I let the vegan chicken strips essentially soak in the broth mixture to absorb the flavors. Usually, you would simmer the chicken for about an hour, but I found that the vegan chicken strips would break down at such constant heat. Since vegan chicken strips are also more porous, it lent itself to taking up flavors through soaking.

#2 Rice

A big thing about the rice is that it should first be toasted. Not only does this develop the flavor, but it also keeps the rice from absorbing too much liquid and getting too soft. The flavors of garlic, cilantro and ginger are reinforced in the rice again, so that the flavors are perfumed throughout.

#3 Sauce

This is where the magic happens. I mean, this sauce is good and bad. It’s good because like I mentioned earlier, it encapsulates all essential Thai flavors. It has lime juice, sugar, soy sauce, ginger and a salty bean paste among the many ingredients, so it’s really a flavor explosion and pairs well with the gently flavored chicken.

The bad part is that it does have a tendency to cover up the more mellow cilantro, ginger and garlic flavors perfumed in the rice and chicken. I would say to try out the dish without the sauce. Then add it in sparingly so that you can experience the different dimensions of the dish.

Vegan Thai Chicken Rice - Khao Man Gai

(Serve 4 people)

Chicken + Broth:

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2-inch ginger, sliced thin
  • 5-6 cilantro roots and stems
  • pinch white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons vegan chicken broth powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoons vegan fish sauce
  • 12-16 ounces vegan chicken less strips, rinsed

Rice:

  • 2 cups rice, uncooked
  • 4-5 slices of ginger
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cups Use the chicken broth from boiling the chicken to cook the rice
  • oil for cooking

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon Thai soy bean paste
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • chopped chillies, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons vegan chicken broth (used for rice)

Assembly:

  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. For the broth, in a pot, bring to a boil the garlic, ginger, cilantro, white pepper, vegan chicken broth powder, sesame oil, soy sauce, vegan sauce, and vegan chicken with 4 cups of water. Turn heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let chicken and broth mixture sit for about an hour.
  2. For the rice, over medium heat, lightly fry the ginger and garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons of oil for 2 minutes, until the flavors are released. Add in the rice and fry for 2-3 minutes until the rice turns a light golden color.
  3. Add in about 3 cups of broth (more or less according to your rice type) and cook until rice is done.
  4. For the sauce, add all the ingredients together and mix. Adjust seasoning according to taste.
  5. To assemble, drain the vegan chicken. If chicken strips are too wet, cook for 1-2 minutes for the liquid to evaporate. Place vegan chicken strips on top of rice. Add cilantro and cucumber on the side. Place sauce on side in a separate container.