Rinse the chicken pieces and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil. Brown the chicken on all sides until crisp.
Add in the coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, pepper/peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, and chili. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 1 hour (add a bit of hot water if you need more liquid).
In the last 10 minutes of cooking, turn up the heat to medium high to thicken the sauce slightly. Be careful not to heat the sauce too aggressively or too long, or the sauce may "split," and transform from sticky/creamy to oily! Serve over steamed rice, garnished with the cilantro.