Ayam Penyet and sambal recipes
By Hedy Khoo
Wednesday, Nov 23, 2011
It’s an Indonesian dish called “smashed chicken”.
In my quest to prepare this dish, I ended up damaging my car when I went searching for lemon basil at Golden Mile Complex.
I scraped my car against the pillar of a narrow exit as I hurried home to try my hand at preparing ayam penyet.
And to think kemangi, which is lemon basil in Bahasa Indonesia, isn’t even the star ingredient of this dish that Madam In Suprapti, who hails from East Java, showed me how to make.
But I had been so enthralled by the look in Madam In’s eyes when she described the refreshing taste of kemangi, dipped in sambal with a mouthful of ayam penyet, that I decided I had to have some.
Lemon basil isn’t readily available in neighbourhood markets, hence my trip to Beach Road to try my luck. It is a herb used in Thai cuisine, and the complex is known as a haunt for Thai food.
Ayam penyet can be cooked easily at home.
Some recipes call for the bird to be boiled first in spice marinade and water, or coconut milk before deep-frying.
But Madam In’s recipe does not require any boiling of the fowl. Marinate the chicken preferably for at least three to four hours, then deep-fry over low heat for about 20 minutes until it is cooked.
To check, use a skewer and poke through the meat. If there is no blood, the chicken is done.
Of course, there is the compulsory whacking of the chicken after it is cooked. Hence, the term “smashed chicken”.
The purpose of this, says Madam In, is to break up the crispy flour coating and help separate the flesh from the bone, making it easier for the diner to pick the meat.
She says the dish is best eaten without cutlery.
She explains: “It tastes better if you use your hand to eat. You take a bit of chicken, dip it in sambal, take some nasi (rice) and it will taste more delicious eating it this way.
“Do the same with the vegetables. Take a piece of cabbage or some kemangi, dip it in sambal, and you will enjoy the chicken even more.”
Forget buying ready-made sambal chilli paste. There is nothing like making your own.
Squishing a lime over the meat gives it a sour kick, which rounds off the dish nicely.
In Indonesia, ayam penyet is usually served with plain rice, but I cooked rice with pandan leaves for extra flavour.
For the marinade, I added 20g of galangal and two stalks of lemongrass. I also added a large white onion for making the sambal paste to lend more sweetness to this condiment.
The results were more than satisfying. The aromatic ayam penyet paired with the lemony fragrance of kemangi dipped in sambal made me forget my car woes for the short five minutes it took me to devour the dish.
Madam In Suprapti, a 42-year-old Indonesian, has been working in Singapore as a domestic helper for the past 14 years.
She says that in Indonesia, the rice served with ayam penyet is usually plain and unflavoured.
The flavour comes from the fried chicken and the sambal chilli, which is a must-have when eating the dish.
The key to a tasty ayam penyet lies in the marinade, which is a mixture of mixed spices and patience when frying.
Madam In shares: "You cannot fry the chicken over high heat or the inside of the chicken may not be well-cooked.
"Every family has their own recipe for the spice marinade, but everyone will smash the chicken after it is fried."
For her cooking demo, she gamely made ayam goreng (fried chicken) as well, using chicken wings.
She says: "The spice marinade is actually the same, except that for ayam goreng, you can add some chilli powder, but for ayam penyet, you add white pepper, not chilli. This is because ayam penyet is always served with the sambal."
Everyone has his or her own combination of ingredients when it comes to sambal mixtures.
She shares: "There are different sambal mixtures for different dishes. But usually, the Indonesian style of making sambal is to make it sweet and spicy."
- 6 chicken thighs
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- Oil for deep-frying
- For marinade
- 9 candlenuts
- 10 cloves garlic
- 20g turmeric
- 40g old ginger
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- For sambal
- 5 red chillis
- 16 chilli padis
- 1 tomato
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1. Use a mortar and pestle to pound and grind the ingredients for the marinade.
- 2. Use it to marinate the chicken with for at least three hours or overnight.
- 3. Fill pan with enough oil to cover half the chicken.
- 4. On a plate, mix the all-purpose flour and corn flour. Coat the chicken thighs with the flour mixture.
- 5. Heat until the oil bubbles gently.
- 6. Put the chicken in the oil. Fry each side for 10 minutes until they become browned.
- 7. Drain on kitchen paper.
- 8. Before serving, use a pestle or side of a cleaver to "smash" the chicken.
- 9. Serve with rice, with the sambal chilli on the side.
- For Sambal
- 1. Heat oil in pan and fry the ingredients until softened.
- 2. Pour the cooked ingredients into a mortar and pound.
- 3. Add sugar and salt to season and mix well.