Having always cooked the same Chinese dishes over and over again, I decided to cook something different for dinner. Growing up in a multiracial country means one thing, I get to experience different cultures and sample different types of food – Chinese, Malay and Indian. I have this huge craving for Malay food ever since I’m back from Chinese New Year break in Penang. And the particular Malay dish I am longing for is Ayam Masak Merah, chicken coated in rich tomato sauce. This is one of my favourite and the other would be Ayam Masak Kicap, chicken cooked in soya sauce.
The thing about Malay food is it is never short of flavours. Seasonings play an important role in Malay cooking and it utilizes a melting pot of herbs and spices. A combination of fresh seasonings and dried spices are normally pounded together to make a fine paste and cooked in oil. Difficult as it may sounds but this is the core of Malay cooking.
Ok, back to my dinner. So my intention was to cook Ayam Masak Merah but silly me added in one blob to many dark soya sauce and thus, it became darker than what it was supposed to be. Ooppss. Ayam Masak Merah Kicap? Oh well, I still got my chicken dish but it’s two favourites in one. Not half bad! 😀
I love how the dish turned out – sweet, spicy and slight tangy. The husband loves it and I love it very very much. It was a night where self control was lacking as we had two bowls of rice!! Oh, dearie us!
Ayam Masak Merah-Kicap (adapted from Citrus & Candy)
1 whole chicken, chopped
1 tbsp tumeric powder
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
few shakes of ground white pepper
10 dried red chillis, deseeded
10 fresh red chillis, deseeded
6 shallots, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemongrass, white parts only, chopped
1 tbsp of oil
2 onions – one finely diced and the other, halved then sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2cm knob of ginger, peeled and minced
125ml tomato sauce/ketchup
1x140g can of tomato paste
1/2 tbsp kecap manis (I think I added more than 1/2 tbsp)
2 tbsp caster sugar (or to taste)
250ml of chicken stock
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 lemongrass, bruised
1. Marinade chicken and set aside for about one hour.
2. Meanwhile, mix all the ‘chili paste’ ingredients in a food processor and set aside. (This can be made in advanced and store in the fridge until ready to use)
3. Heat up some oil and brown the chicken pieces in batches until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
4. Add more oil and fry garlic, finely diced onions, ginger and 3 heaped tablespoon of chili paste. Fry until fragrant.(or when you start to sneeze :))
5. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, kecap manis, sugar, stock, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to develop the flavours.
6. Add the browned chicken and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is coated and has absorbed all the flavours. Add more stock or water if the sauce starts to dry out during cooking.
7. Add the sliced onions and simmer for a few minutes more.
8. Dish out and serve with steamed rice.