Fried chicken is such a ubiquitous dish in many cuisines that we don’t often think much about it. That’s why when an Indonesian friend made this for a home party, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it and immediately asked her for the recipe. Here’s a shout out to Emi Yanti Lubis who had so graciously shared her family recipe with us.
Turns out that this is not just any fried chicken. Her recipe calls for the chicken to be poached first in a spice-laden broth and then soaked in it overnight for the infusion to penetrate into the meat. It is then fried until crispy and drained. The remaining oil is used for frying grated galangal and scattered over the chicken as a crispy garnish that not only looks good but also tastes amazing.
I had always thought that the crispy bits were flotsam that had gotten loose while the chicken was being fried. But knowing now that these are galangal floss has helped me not feel so guilty about enjoying them.
Because the star of this dish is the crispy galangal floss, be prepared to grate more galangal than it’s called for. It is so addictive that you’d just want to eat the floss with lots of rice. I had thought that 250 grams of galangal would be enough to serve with two kilograms of chicken, which equals about eight chicken leg quarters. But after frying, the crispy floss was just enough to scatter over the chicken with hardly any to spare to enjoy on its own.
This recipe is usually made with ayam pencen or spent hen. But because the chicken is poached before it is fried, the flesh is not tough as you would expect from such an old hen. It is in fact quite tender and the poaching allows the oil to render out of the skin, which remains crisp long after it has cooled down.
Incidentally, the resultant broth has so much flavour that you’d want to save it to cook rice or congee with. Or you may serve it as a soup to go with the fried chicken.
As with any Indonesian dish, you’ll need to eat the chicken with sambal. Emi said that any sambal will go well with ayam goreng berempah. This sambal air asam is quite close to the one she had served to us during the meal, but you may substitute with any condiment of your choice.
- 2kg chicken leg quarters
- 2 stalks lemongrass, crushed
- 100g galangal, crushed
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 litre cold water
- Spice Paste:
- 5 cloves garlic
- 100g shallots
- 2cm ginger
- 2cm turmeric, or 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- Galangal Floss:
- 1 litre cooking oil
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 250g galangal, shredded
- Sambal Air Asam:
- 6 red chillies
- 1 green chilli
- 1 onion
- 1 tomato
- 1 tbsp toasted belacan
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste + 1/2 cup water
- 1 lime
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Blend the spice paste ingredients in an electric mill into a puree and set aside.
- Place chicken and all the ingredients into a large pot or wok. Cover with spice paste and add water until the chicken is just barely submerged. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to simmer for about 40 minutes until tender. Allow to cool completely and keep overnight in the chiller submerged in the broth to allow the flavours to infuse into the meat.
- The next day, grate the galangal into fine shreds and set aside.
- Grind the sambal ingredients in an electric mill until finely blended and set aside.
- Remove cold chicken from the broth and pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat cooking oil to medium and fry the chicken until crispy and light golden.
- Remove from heat and drain excess oil on paper towels.
- Into the hot oil, add salt and fry the curry leaves until crispy, then remove from oil.
- In the same oil, fry grated galangal until crispy.
- Serve the chicken topped with crispy galangal floss and curry leaves, and sambal on the side.