After languishing in stacks of paper and as hand-written notes for 30 plus years, this recipe was recently test and resuscitated.
1 small chicken, cut into 4 pcs
- 6 pcs / 40gm shallots (bawang merah), peel and rinse off the black grit, if any.
- 3 tbsp / 40gm fresh red chillies pounded, or Cilicuka Extra Hot and/or Super Hot as a convenient substitute for cooking
- 3 pcs / 15mg garlic (bawang putih)
- Pound/grind the shallots, red chillies and garlic to a course texture. Set aside.
- 1/2 thumbsize, galangal/blue ginger (lengkuas), peel then bruise with the back of a knife
- 1-2 stalks lemongrass (seria), use only the bottom part, remove the outer dried/or dirty layer, bruise with the back of a knife
- Prepare the galangal and lemon grass by peeling and bruising. Set aside.
- ½ tbsp tamarind paste with seeds (asam)
- 200ml water, about
- 1/2-1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (cuka)
- 1 tbsp or more, Java sauce (ketchup manis), use brand: Bango
1/2-1 tsp fine salt, or to taste (garam)
- Heat a non-stick pan with some oil. Brown the chicken skin-side down first then turn over, abt 5-7mins. Pick up the chicken pieces, gently shake off the excess oil, and set aside.
- While the oil is still hot (with the rendered chicken fat inside), add A and B. Fry for about 7-10 min over medium high heat until the colour changes to a deep orange-red. Keep stirring so that it will cook evenly.
- Once it has reached the correct colour and aroma, add the tamarind juice by pouring it through a strainer directly into the pan. Stir to mix. The liquid will arrest the caramelisation, so ensure the colour is correct before adding the liquid.
- Add the white rice vinegar and kecap manis.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with kecap manis and salt (or white sugar, if needed).
- Add back the browned chicken. Simmer for 20min at low-med heat to allow the sauce to thicken and the chicken to absorb the gravy. Add a bit of water (100-200ml) if the sauce thickens too much.
- Serve with plain white rice.
- The rempah must be coarse, so that the sauce has texture.
- The sauce should be oniony (from the shallots), slightly sweet (from the kecap manis), pedas or hot (from the red chillies).
- Do not deseed the chillies so that there is heat and depth to the flavour.
- Ensure the shallots are caramelised well so that it has better flavour.
- The acidity comes from vinegar (which will be cooked off during simmering) and tamarind paste.
- It needs a touch of salt at the end to intensity the flavour and counter-balance the sweetness from the kecap manis.