Hawaiian Haystacks {Thai-style}

Hawaiian Haystacks {Thai-style}

This is an oldie but goodie, as the saying goes. I have wanted to put this on my blog for a long time, but have felt that maybe there are those who would scoff at its lack of sophistication. Then I got to thinking about the number of households that I know where this is considered a fun family meal.  Family friendly food is my favorite kind of food post. I get all happy and peaceful. But then I got to thinking about how territorial people in said households get about the chicken “gravy”. Everyone likes their momma’s version best. And then I got intimidated about posting a different gravy. What if no one liked it? And THEN, as I worked my way through experimenting with the slow cooker roasted chicken, I found a slightly different take on an old favorite by putting a Thai-style spin on the Hawaiian haystacks.

Hawaiian Haystacks {Thai-style}

I first had Hawaiian Haystacks at girl’s camp when I was a teenager. Everyone at camp was familiar with them except me. My mom was pretty straight forward about her cooking, which was delicious by the way, but she stuck with a dozen or so regular meals and did not often venture outside of those meals. I was okay with that because my mom’s cooking was unquestionably wonderful. However, when I went out in public and found that other people did things differently, I felt shy…like with Hawaiian Haystacks at girl’s camp.

I didn’t know what to do–how to put the ingredients together–what would taste good together or whether I was doing things ‘right’. Teen angst over girl’s camp food. (Shaking head, rolling eyes at the memory.) Then again, I have angst a lot. It’s just the way of things with me. It would be so nice to be one of those people who make a decision and then charge ahead with their decision, never looking back because they know they have made the right decision in the first place AND they don’t really care what someone else’s opinion may be. Wait. No, I changed my mind. I don’t want to be that person. Sigh. My life is so complicated.

Slow Cooker Roasted ChickenAlthough a gravy consisting of cream of chicken soup is very common, I have always used a ‘skinny’ gravy made from chicken stock, seasonings, and chicken and thickened with cornstarch. This time around I used the chicken and amazing chicken stock from this Slow Cooker “Roasted” Chicken. It was incredibly flavorful; reminiscent of Thai flavors. Fresh basil and cilantro are perfect additions to keep the flavor profile going in a Thai direction. However, the chicken gravy can be seasoned with whatever herbs and spices you choose.

Coconut RiceThe rest of the ingredients are completely up to personal preference. Rice is standard; white is the most common, but brown works well, too. (I used this very easy Coconut Rice–so good!) The array of other toppings include the following: coconut, celery, blanched fresh peas or defrosted frozen peas, sunflower seeds, diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, pineapple chunks (fresh or canned), grated cheese, and crispy Chinese noodles. Some families like to add mandarin oranges and others also add sliced black olives.

Hawaiian Haystacks {Thai-style}
This is my preferred combo: crispy Chinese noodles, coconut rice, chunky chicken gravy, tomatoes, celery, pineapple chunks, green onions, cheese, and sunflower seeds.

Because I was choosing to keep this particular batch of Hawaiian Haystacks with a Thai-based theme, I used jasmine rice cooked with coconut milk. In the words of the great Ina Garten, “how good is that?” If you wanted to increase the coconut milk flavor, coconut milk could be added to the gravy. Oh, sheesh. So good.

Hawaiian Haystacks {Thai-style}

Yield: Gravy makes about 8 servings

Recipe by Terri @ that's some good cookin'


    For the Gravy:
  • 5 cups chicken broth or stock (I used juices from Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken plus enough store bought chicken stock to bring it up to five cups.)
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk (I used regular. If you prefer a regular gravy, replace the coconut milk with 1 cup of stock, bringing the total amount of stock up to 6 cups.)
  • 3 cups cooked chicken (I used chicken from Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken )
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • jalapeno or other hot chile, for heat if desired, seeded and finely diced (I did not use)
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Toppings--use any or all--adjust amounts prepared to # of people being served
  • crispy Chinese noodles
  • cooked rice (I made Coconut Rice --super easy)
  • grated cheese(I used cheddar)
  • shredded coconut
  • sliced celery
  • diced tomatoes
  • sliced green onions
  • green peas, fresh or defrosted frozen peas)
  • pineapple (fresh or canned, tidbits, chunks, or crushed as per personal preference)
  • toasted sunflower seeds


    For the Gravy
  1. In a large sauce pot, bring the chicken broth and the coconut milk to a low boil. Add the chicken and return to low boil.
  2. Taste, then correct seasonings with salt and pepper or seasoning salt. Continue at a low boil. (If using a hot chile for spicy heat, add it now. If some guests would prefer it without the heat, the chile could be served as a topping.)
  3. Mix together the water and corn starch until smooth. Add slowly to hot chicken broth mixture while stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until gravy has thickened. If you prefer a thicker gravy, allow the gravy to cook at a low boil until reduced to desired thickness. Alternately, a little more cornstarch dissolved in a little water may be used for additional thickening.
  4. Just prior to serving, stir in the basil and cilantro.
  5. To assemble haystack: layer the Chinese crispy noodles, cooked rice, and gravy. Add any or all toppings in order of preference.
This recipe has been linked to the following:
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

You may also like:

Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con Pollo
Taqueria-style Slow Cooker Chicken
Taqueria-style Slow Cooker Chicken
Five Spice Honey Chicken
Five Spice Honey Chicken


  1. says

    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a great week and enjoy your new Red Plate.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  2. says

    Oh, man…this sounds SO good. We love coconut rice at our house. I think we started making it after going to Rumbi Grill. We put it in our burritos. Delicious! And, thanks for posting a chicken gravy recipe without canned soup. Just what I was looking for! 🙂

  3. JAWS says

    I know this may not be totally relevant, but my family likes to eat haystacks with SPAM. I know it sounds gross but once it is combined with pineapple and steamed vegetables, it is really good.

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