Herbaceous lift to fried chicken


The poaching components of this dish can be prepared ahead of time. — Photos: LOW LAY PHON/The Star

FRIED chicken is such a ubiquitous dish that we don’t often give it much thought.

That is why when an Indonesian friend made this for a home party, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it and immediately asked her for the recipe.

So here’s a shout-out to Emi Yanti Lubis who shared her family recipe with us.

Turns out this is not just any fried chicken. Her recipe calls for the chicken to be poached first in a spice-laden broth, then soaked in it overnight for the infusion to penetrate the meat.

It is then fried until crispy and drained. The remaining oil is used for frying grated galangal and scattered over the chicken as a crispy garnish.

I had always thought that the crispy bits were flotsam that had gotten loose while the chicken was being fried.

But knowing that it’s galangal floss has helped me not feel so guilty about enjoying them.

Since the star of this dish is the crispy galangal floss, be prepared to grate more galangal than is called for.

It is so addictive that you will just want to eat the floss with lots of rice.

I thought 250g of galangal were enough to serve with two kilogrammes of chicken, which would be equivalent to about eight chicken leg quarters.

But after frying, the crispy floss was just enough to scatter over the chicken with hardly any to spare to enjoy on its own.

This recipe is usually made with ayam pencen or spent hen.

But because the chicken is poached before it is fried, the flesh is not tough as you would expect from such an old bird.

It is in fact quite tender and poaching allows the oil to render out of the skin which remains crisp long after it has cooled down.

Incidentally, the resultant broth has so much flavour that you can save it to cook rice or congee with or serve as a soup to go with the fried chicken.

As with any Indonesian dish, the chicken is best eaten with sambal.

Emi said that any sambal would go well with ayam goreng berempah.

This sambal air asam is quite close to the one she served during the meal, but you may substitute with any condiment of your choice.

Ayam goreng berempahIngredients

2kg chicken leg quarters

2 stalks lemongrass, crushed

100g galangal, crushed

5 kaffir lime leaves

1 litre cold water

Spice paste5 cloves garlic

100g shallots

2cm ginger

2cm turmeric, or 1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tsp salt to taste

Galangal floss1 litre cooking oil

1 tsp salt to taste

2 sprigs curry leaves

250g galangal, shredded

Sambal air asam6 red chillies

1 green chilli

1 onion

1 tomato

1 tbsp toasted belacan1 tbsp tamarind paste + 1/2 cup water

1 lime

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

MethodBlend the spice paste ingredients into a puree in an electric mill and set aside.

Place chicken and all the ingredients into a large pot or wok.

Cover with spice paste and add water until the chicken is barely submerged.

Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to simmer for about 40 minutes until tender.

Cool completely and keep overnight in the chiller submerged in the broth to allow the flavours to infuse into the meat.

The next day, grate the galangal into fine shreds and set aside.

Grind the sambal ingredients in an electric mill until finely blended and set aside.

Remove cold chicken from the broth and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat cooking oil to medium and fry the chicken until crispy and light golden.

Remove from heat and drain excess oil onto paper towels.

Into the hot oil, add salt and fry the curry leaves until crispy, then remove from oil.

In the same oil, fry grated galangal until crispy.

Serve the chicken topped with crispy galangal floss, curry leaves and sambal on the side.

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