Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Ayam Tempra

The moment I saw this dish in Stel's blog, adapted from the cookbook Shiok! by Terry Tan and Christopher Tan, I was enamored. I felt I had to try it since we often have chicken at home, much more than any other meat and had to find other ways of serving it from the usual. Both me and my husband love the salty-sweet taste plus the subtle flavour of the blachan which is very similar to the Pinoy's bagoong. Stel was right, hot steaming rice is the perfect accompaniment with this dish plus any salad or stir fried vegetables.

The blachan or shrimp paste that I got from our local Chinese grocery is from Thailand branded as 'Tranchang'. Malaysia and Indonesia also have this pungent ingredient. It's drier, finer and more concentrated than our bagoong but imparts similar taste and aroma. If you can't find it, I think you can substitute bagoong. The only complain my husband had was he got pricked with the lemon grass while eating because what I did was to chop it into small pieces and mash with mortar and pestle. After conferring with the chef Stel, next time I'll cut them into bigger pieces, just slightly bruise them so it can be easily fished out before serving. So here's my take on this tasty dish and thanks to Stel for sharing it.

Ayam Tempra
(Spicy-Sour Stir-fried Chicken)

750 g  chicken - cut into serving pieces
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion - quartered
1 stalk lemongrass - cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces, pounded slightly
1 long green chilli pepper - sliced (optional)
1 bird chilli - sliced (optional)
1/2 cup chicken stock/broth
3 Tbsp lime juice
3-4 Kaffir lime leaves - midrib removed and leaves finely sliced

1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 stalk lemongrass - cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces, pounded slightly
1 tsp shrimp paste (blachan)
3 Tbsp ketjap manis (thick sweet soy sauce), or dark soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 Tbsp crushed palm sugar
  1. In a mortar and pestle mix and mash all marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. Set aside and let sit for at least an hour. Drain and reserve marinade.
  2. In a wok, heat the oil over medium high heat. Saute the garlic, onion, lemongrass, and chili, until fragrant.
  3. Add chicken pieces and stir fry until chicken is well browned.
  4. Pour in the marinade and chicken broth. Bring to boil then lower heat to a simmer.
  5. Stir from time to time, adding more broth or water a little at a time if it gets too dry. Cook until chicken is tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  6. [optional] Remove lemongrass.
  7. Add in lime juice, Kaffir lime leaves, and salt to taste. Stir well and remove from heat. Serve.

Note: If using boneless chicken meat, cooking time is cut drastically and you may not need to add more broth or water.

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