Secret to good ayam penyet is slow frying over low heat

Ayam penyet.
Ayam penyet. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

(THE NEW PAPER) - The hardest part about cooking ayam penyet is the agonising wait for it to deep-fry to a golden crisp.

I revisited a recipe for the Indonesian fried chicken dish shared by Madam In Suprapti, 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, Madam In explained, is to break up the crispy coat of batter and separate the meat from the bone.

I strongly recommend marinating the chicken overnight as this allows the flavours of the spices to penetrate the meat.

No parboiling is required. But you must have the patience to let it deep-fry over very low heat so that the meat is cooked through.

Do make the sambal chilli or the dish will lack that kick.

AYAM PENYET

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken thighs

5 Tbs plain flour

2 Tbs corn flour

1 tsp salt

Oil for deep-frying

1 Japanese cucumber, sliced (to serve on the side)

For the marinade

5 candlenuts

4 cloves garlic

15g turmeric

20g old ginger

1 Tbs coriander seeds

1½ tsp sugar

1½ tsp salt

For sambal

5 red finger chillies, cut into thirds

4 to 5 chilli padis

1 red onion, sectioned

4 garlic cloves

1 tomato, sectioned

3 Tbs cooking oil

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

METHOD

1. Wash and rinse the chicken. Pat dry and place in the fridge for an hour.

2. Grind the ingredients for the marinade.

3. Marinate the chicken and let the pieces rest overnight in the fridge.

4. Prepare the sambal: Heat oil in pan over medium-low heat. Fry the red finger chillies, chilli padis, red onion and garlic for five minutes, then add the tomato. Continue frying for another five 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 the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking and allow the pieces to come to near room temperature.

7. Heat 600ml of oil over medium heat in a wok for deep-frying.

8. Coat the chicken in the mixture of plain flour, corn flour and salt, and fry for 10 minutes each side over low heat.

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 on the side.