With the variety of fried chicken to cook and eat, one of my favourites is still ayam penyet.
I revisit and slightly tweak a recipe for the Indonesian fried chicken dish shared with me years ago by my aunt's domestic helper, Madam In Suprapti, 52, who is originally from East Java.
Penyet means to smash or flatten and refers to the step of smashing or flattening the fried chicken just before it is served.
The purpose is to break up the crispy coat of batter and separate the meat from the bone, says Madam In.
She uses a mixture of five tablespoons of plain flour and two tablespoons of corn flour to coat the chicken before frying. If you do not have plain flour, using corn flour alone is sufficient to get a crispy crust.
Instead of using whole coriander seeds in Madam In's recipe, I opt for ground coriander as I have it in my kitchen.
Marinate the chicken overnight so that the flavours thoroughly penetrate the meat.
No parboiling is required as slow-frying the chicken legs over low heat is sufficient to cook them through.
Do not forget to remove the marinated chicken legs from the fridge an hour before frying. This eliminates the problem of the chicken legs having an undercooked interior while being crisp and cooked on the exterior.
I skip the final step of smashing the chicken leg before serving because I cannot bear to mar that golden crispy crust.
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4 chicken thighs
176g corn flour
1 tsp salt
Oil for deep-frying
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced (to serve on the side)
INGREDIENTS FOR MARINADE
4 cloves garlic
15g fresh turmeric
20g old ginger
1½ Tbs ground coriander
1½ tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
INGREDIENTS FOR SAMBAL
3 Tbs cooking oil
5 red finger chillies, cut into thirds
4 to 5 chilli padi
1 red onion, sectioned
4 garlic cloves
1 tomato, sectioned
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1. Wash and rinse the chicken. Pat dry and place in the fridge for an hour.
2. Grind ingredients for the marinade.
3. Marinate the chicken and let the pieces rest overnight in the fridge.
4. Prepare the sambal: Heat oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Fry the red finger chillies, chilli padi, red onion and garlic for five minutes, then add the tomato. Fry for five more minutes until the ingredients are softened.
5. Pound the mixture using a mortar and pestle to a paste. Season with sugar and salt.
6. Remove chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking. Let the pieces come to near room temperature.
7. Heat 600ml of oil over medium heat in a wok for deep-frying.
8. Coat the chicken legs in the mixture of corn flour and salt, and fry for 10 minutes each side over low heat. Depending on the size of your wok or deep-frying pan, fry no more than two chicken legs at a time.
9. Place the fried chicken on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
10. Before serving, use a pestle or side of a cleaver to smash the chicken. Serve with rice, sambal and cucumber.