Moan Dut Khnao Kchei (Baked Chicken With Young Jackfruit)

Moan Dut Khnao Kchei (Baked Chicken With Young Jackfruit)

This family-style Cambodian dinner is fragrant and hearty, with easy-to-prepare dipping sauces that make every bite a little different. If you’re in the U.S., you may need to call around to your local South Asian and Chinese grocers to find young jackfruit. But once you have your ingredients, you mostly just need to chop to get this Cambodian dinner on the table. The chef Rotanak Ros, the author of “Nhum: Recipes from a Cambodian Kitchen” (Rotanak Food Media, 2019), said this dish was a special one: “People raise chickens to sell, not to eat,” she said, speaking of villages where she conducts research. “The money from one chicken can feed the whole family, at least, for three days.” To kill a chicken, then, is to honor a guest.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Prepare the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk soy sauce, palm sugar and salt until dissolved. Rub the marinade on the chicken and let it rest for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Reserve any liquid that drains from the chicken for later.
  2. Step 2

    Cut the jackfruit: Using a paring knife, peel the skin from the jackfruit. Remove the core, then cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
  3. Step 3

    Pour the oil into a Dutch oven or another large, heavy-lidded pot, and heat over medium-high.
  4. Step 4

    Lay the chicken in the hot oil, breast-side down, taking care not to burn yourself. Let it rest for 3 to 5 minutes, until browned underneath. Using tongs, turn it over to brown the top, then rotate as needed until the chicken is brown all over.
  5. Step 5

    Once the chicken is browned, remove it from the pot and place it on a cooling rack, with a pan below to catch the juices. Then, add the jackfruit to the oil to brown, about 5 minutes.
  6. Step 6

    As the jackfruit cooks, use the broad side of a cleaver (or a pestle, or the dull edge of a chef’s knife flipped upside down) and pound the lemongrass flat to release flavors. Stuff most of it inside the chicken, setting aside a few pieces to add to the broth.
  7. Step 7

    When the jackfruit is browned, pour out the oil. Wipe out the pot, if needed, then place the chicken and jackfruit back into the pot. Add the reserved marinade liquid, 1/2 cup water, the makrut lime leaves and the rest of the pounded lemongrass. Cover the pot and let it steam over medium-low heat until juices run clear, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Step 8

    Prepare the sweet-and-sour sauce: In a medium bowl, stir the chile, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved. If you’d like, add shallots and lemongrass.
  9. Step 9

    Prepare the black Kampot pepper sauce: Heat the peppercorns and salt in a small skillet over medium heat until the peppercorns start releasing their fragrance. Then, grind them finely by hand with a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice grinder. In a small bowl, mix them with the lime juice.
  10. Step 10

    Prepare for serving: Wash and dry whole lettuce leaves, mint and Thai basil. Slice the cucumber into thin medallions. Arrange each in individual bowls.
  11. Step 11

    When the chicken is done, remove the bird and jackfruit using a slotted spoon and add to a large serving bowl. (Any leftover sauce makes a good dip for grilled meat or seafood.)
  12. Step 12

    To serve, set out the dipping sauces and crudités with the chicken and jackfruit. (The chicken is traditionally served whole, but, if you’d like to cut it into pieces before serving, you can do so.) This is a communal meal. Make little pockets out of the lettuce and combine with different combinations of chicken, jackfruit, herbs and sauces to your liking.