Tuesday, May 7, 2013

the best ayam goreng... ever!

I remember years ago, when I was studying in the old NIE (the one at Bukit Timah), there was this Malay stall that sold the yummiest fried chicken I have ever tasted. It was definitely "limited edition" fried chicken because once the chooks were sold out for the day, the stall would close.

The stall owner would start frying his second batch of chicken at around 3 in the afternoon, and a queue would form before the chicken was even cooked. It was so juicy and so flavourful. Once I happened to be first in the queue (haha) and I asked the owner why did he not just buy more chickens to sell since business was so good. He said he was happy with the way his life was, and he loved to go fishing in the afternoons, so why the need to work so hard? Wow, what a great way to live one's life!

It has been years since I last tasted his fried chicken, and for years I regretted not asking the nice old man for the secret to cooking such a delicious ayam goreng. On hindsight, maybe that is not such a bad thing after all for imagine how much rounder I would be if I knew how to cook like him!

About 6 months ago, I was looking around various books and blogs for inspiration, and I chanced upon this little recipe. What caught my attention was how easy it was. The actual cooking time is quite long - almost an hour, but for most of this time, the chicken is left bubbling in a pot.

The other great thing about this recipe is that the time for frying the chicken is really quick. And because the chicken is already cooked through, there is no need to worry about serving bloodied fried chicken. I tend to avoid frying chicken the traditional way (frying raw chicken in oil) because unless one is really good at controlling the heat, at most times the chicken would be overcooked on the outside, and undercooked on the inside. A short frying time also means that the chicken remains juicy, which, to me is very important.

So I tried making this chicken, and man, oh man, when I took my first bite, it was as if I had just left that queue back at NIE, biting into that delicious ayam goreng again!!

The first part of the recipe is easy - I simply chopped everything, dumped them into a food processor (or pestle and mortar if you prefer) and blend until I had a paste that was not too smooth. I then mixed this with the coconut milk. I got all my ingredients from the wet market - I love wet markets, but you can get them just as easily in supermarkets like Sheng Shong and the bigger Fairprice outlets.



The skin of the chicken must be left on. I mean, this is fried chicken at the end of the day - as with everything, if it is going to add inches to your waist, eat the real thing, just don't eat it frequently. :) I used chicken drumsticks and bone-in thighs (just because I had some hanging around in one of my freezers) but you can use breasts, thighs, wings, or even a whole chicken, chopped into pieces.

Then I added the chicken pieces to the mixture and simmered over a really low fire for about 35 minutes for the chicken to absorb all the flavour from the sauce. If you are using bigger pieces of meat, increase the simmering time a little, maybe another 10-15 minutes.

 At this stage, I would leave the chicken to bubble away and give it a gentle (!!) stir once in a while. After this time, the chicken is definitely (1) cooked through; (2) flavourful; and (3) very juicy!

I then placed the chicken pieces (very gently) on a cooling rack. I used a cooling rack instead of a plate because I wanted the exterior of the chicken pieces to dry a little. I believe that a dry exterior = more crispy yumminess but by all means, stick them on a plate if you wish. At this stage, you can leave the chicken until about 10 minutes before you are ready to eat them. There were times when I would cook the chicken to this stage, keep them in the fridge and fry them the following day.

The second part of this recipe is just as simple - simply fry the chicken pieces in some vegetable oil until they are golden brown, drain them on a paper towel and serve immediately.

Try making these super-delicious chicken. Trust me, you will be making them again!

NOTE: I would love to link this post to the blog where I had originally found the recipe but unfortunately, I did not note which blog it was. :(


Ayam Goreng (Serves 4)


Chicken parts (1kg) or 

one whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

500ml Coconut Milk

6 Shallots
1 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Fresh Turmeric, roughly chopped
2 tsp lemongrass, roughly chopped
2 tsp galangal, roughly chopped
5 Candlenuts, roughly chopped
2 tsp Sea Salt (add more if needed)

Oil for frying


  1. Blend shallots, ground coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, galangal, cadlenuts and salt until a paste is formed.
  2. Mix paste with coconut milk.
  3. Add chicken to paste, stir to thoroughly coat the chicken.
  4. Cook over a low fire for 35 -50 minutes, until the sauce has been absorbed by the chicken.
  5. Allow the chicken to cool.
  6. Deep fry chicken until golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately.