I am a Southern girl. I grew up in the south of Thailand where food is spicier and made with more dried spices. Growing up, this dish was a big part of my childhood. Kao Mok, or buried in rice, is a Thai version of Indian Biryani. In the south, the cuisine is influenced by Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. Many recipes use more dried spices than the central or the northern part of the country. Kao Mok is one of my favorite things to eat. I never attempt to make this dish at home. The street vendors make them so good and it's always around the corner from my house. Something is just perfect to have someone else cook for you.
Living here in the US, the dish is hard to come by. I can get all the biryani I want from many great Indian restaurants in town but no one makes Kao Mok around here. I came across the recipe in Thai Food book by David Thompson (this book never fail to deliver, once again.) The recipe is also in his newest Thai cookbook called Thai Street Food which is also an excellent Thai cookbook to have. I made it with goat meat I got from the farmers' market a while back and it turned out just perfect.
Simmons Family Farm gave me a whole rabbit when I visited them the end of last year (one of the perks of hanging out with farmers is you never know what will come your way, in this case, a whole rabbit.) I made Green Curry w/ rabbit before and I wanted to try something new and I thought this would be a perfect recipe. You can find whole rabbits at Austin Farmers' Market sold by Countryside Farm.
Kao Mok w/ Rabbit
adapted from Thai Food by David Thompson
1 whole rabbit, cut into 3 inch pieces (about the size of half chicken thigh)
oil for deep frying
5 red shallots, sliced
pinch of salt
4 cups jasmine rice
6 cups stock
2 bay leaves
1 piece cassia bark, roasted (you can use cinnamon stick if you can't find cassia bark)
2-3 Thai cardamom pods, roasted (Thai cardamon is sometimes hard to find. I used white Indian cardamom pods. The green cardamom pods are much stronger. You can find Indian cardamom pods at Indian grocery stores.)
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
pinch of salt
2 tbsp chopped ginger
1 1/2 tbsp chopped turmeric (if you can't find fresh turmeric, dried turmeric will be fine. Only use 1/2 tbsp if using dried.)
1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted
2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted
seeds of 2 cardamom pods, roasted
2 cloves, roasted
3/4 inch cassia bark, roasted
First make the paste. Roast the dried spices separately in a dry pan on a stove until fragrant. Pound the ingredients together in pestle and mortar adding one by one. If you don't have pestle and mortar, grind you dried spices together in coffee grinder (dedicated for grinding spice unless you want spice flavored coffee later). Put fresh spices in small food chopper and blend until smooth. Add the dried spices and mix well. Marinade rabbit pieces in the paste for a few hours in the fridge.
Heat oil in the pot and deep fry shallots, remove shallots and deep fry the rabbit. Combine shallots, salt and chicken with rice and add stock, bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to very low and cover the pot. When the rice is cooked, the rabbit should also be done. Add cassia bark, cardamom pods and let infuse about 5 minutes before serving. The rice is served with sweet chili sauce.
Sweet Chili Sauce
2 long red chillies, deseeded and chopped
1-2 fresh Thai chillies
large pinch of salt
2 cilantro roots or end of the stems, about 5 stems cut one inch from the bottom
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
Mince the chillies and cilantro stems. Combine everything in a pan and bring to a simmer until it becomes a thick syrup. Let cool before serving.