Ayam Goreng Mentega - Butter Fried Chicken

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This fried chicken is not what you'd think. It starts off with fried chicken, sure ... but then there's that sauce that goes with it. A sweet soy sauce with intense lime flavours that elevates it to gourmet status. It's crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and the sauce that bathes it has sweet and sour flavours. It's nirvana on the palate. Seriously! And with steaming hot jasmine rice? Yes!

There's only one way to attack it ... with your hands. Well ... I am Asian, and both my Indonesian and Indian sides genetically bestow me with superior dexterity to manipulate morsels of food between my fingers. So I use it to the best of my abilities. And I'm glad my kids can do so as well.

It is interesting to note that not everyone has the ability, nor the desire, to eat with their hands. And that, to me, is unfortunate. I wonder if they actually think it is beneath them, that it is somehow, uncivilized. Sad ... I derive so much pleasure from eating with my hands, that the dangerous part is  ... I tend to overindulge. And yes, I do lick my fingers ;)

Back to this dish ... Ayam goreng mentega is an Indonesian Chinese dish you will encounter in older restaurants in Jakarta. I mean restaurants that have been there for at least 30 to 40 years, restaurants I visited when I was a teenager. Yikes, I'm dating myself here. The style may be Chinese, but the kecap manis is definitely Indonesian, so it's a cross. A very delicious and scrumptious meeting of cooking ingredients and cooking styles. So whether you have come across it or not, you may want to give this recipe a shot because this is fried chicken 2.0, y'all.

A tasty marinated, then fried, chicken, that is already so good right there. Then cooked again in a sweet soy sauce with bell peppers, lime, a lot of lime, and a heady dose of freshly ground black pepper. Look at it ... if you like chicken, if you like a bit of spice, go for it!

Usually, chicken legs are deep fried until cooked through, then sloshed in the soy and lime sauce. Here I've just browned it in the fry pan, and finished cooking them in the oven to retain the juiciness. Much better! When buying the chicken, please get the ones with skins. While you won't necessarily eat them, they brown much better, and actually 'protect' the flesh you will be eating ;)

Also, restaurant style ayam goreng mentega won't have bell peppers, but Oma includes them in her recipe, and I love bell peppers, and I love Oma's cooking, so I've included them here. That choice is yours.

Look through the recipe, it isn't too hard, and the ingredients may even be at hand. And when you do make it, make sure you have steaming white rice, maybe some sambal, and clean fingers to dig into them ... enjoy!

4 chicken legs
1 tbsp melted butter, or oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 gloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper

Canola or vegetable oil for frying
4 - 6 tbsp butter
1/4 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 lime, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced (optional)
1/2 large onion, sliced (optional)
2 tbsp soy sauce, low sodium, naturally.. ahem
3/4 cup kecap manis, or sweet soy sauce
1 tbsp black pepper
4 tbsp lime juice

1. In a medium bowl, rub chicken legs with oil and lemon juice, then slather on the garlic, salt and pepper. Cover, and let marinate for an hour in the refrigerator.

2. Preheat the oven to 175C or 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Heat the oil in a sauté pan, up to 1 cm deep, then fry the chicken pieces until sealed: until the surface has browned on all exposed sides. Drain the oil, but don't wash the pan just yet.
4. Transfer the chicken to the baking sheet, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through and the juices run clear.

5. While the chicken is cooking in the oven, melt the butter in the same pan, then sweat the onions, garlic and ginger till fragrant.
6. Add the lime, bell peppers, and onion slices, cook until they have softened, about 2 - 3 minutes.
7. Pour in the soy sauce, kecap manis, and add the black pepper, and cook for 1 - 2 minutes.
8. Transfer the cooked chicken back to the pan, and cook a further 2 - 3 minutes to let the juices seep into the chicken.
9. Turn off the heat, then pour the lime juice on top, mix well.
Enjoy with steaming white rice.

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