Some images of what other fermented soybean products look like that can be used in this recipe.
I haven't eaten khao man gai since I left Thailand but I have thought about it many a day. The reason I never attempted recreating it is because of the elusive fermented beans that go into the sauce, a crucial ingredient. I would get overwhelmed with the choices in the Asian grocery store and come out empty handed. Things changed this past Christmas when I had a Thai friend (my former student) visiting from university. We went to the Asian grocery store together and she found the beans I needed. Here's what they looked like....
A few days later we made this dish and it was soooooo delicious. It is not quick and easy but not that difficult either. You could make this for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Khao Man Gai (chicken and rice)
1 whole small chicken or a package of chicken breasts or thighs (skin on preferably)
1 tbsp of salt
4 bruised cilantro roots (often the grocery stores here cut the roots off so I used the stems of the cilantro bunch, leaving ~10 stems aside for the rice).
2 cups of jasmine rice
3 cups of chicken broth (same broth used to cook the above chicken)
4 thick slices of ginger
2 bruised cilantro roots (or the 10 cilantro stems you saved)
2 tbsp of chopped garlic
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of fermented soy bean sauce (the crucial ingredient mentioned above)
2 tbsp brown sugar (palm sugar is more authentic if you have it)
3-4 tbsp of soya sauce
2 tbsp of white vinegar
4 Thai chillies finely chopped (I used 1 Spanish chilli of medium size)
3 tbsp of finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp of water
Cilantro for garnish.
To make chicken and broth bring a pot of water to boil and add salt and roots or stems. Add the chicken (make sure the chicken is covered with water) and lower to a simmer. Simmer until chicken is cooked through but be careful not to overcook which can happen more easily if there is no skin on your chicken. When done, remove the chicken from the broth and let rest before deboning, removing the skin and slicing.
To make the rice use a rice cooker or pot and add your rice, broth from your cooked chicken, ginger, and stems or roots. Fry the garlic in the oil in a separate pan. Be very careful as it can go from lightly browned to burnt and bitter in seconds. As soon as it is nicely browned, remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and add to your rice. Stir to combine everything and cook rice the usual way.
To make the sauce simply add all the ingredients and mix. Taste and adjust. It will be salty and have strong flavours but try a little on the chicken and rice before diluting or changing it too much.
To serve, place a serving of rice in a bowl or on a plate, then top with sliced chicken, then a couple spoonfuls of sauce and some cilantro leaves on top.