Saturday, February 02, 2008

Soy Sauce Chicken: to accompany Golden Coconut Rice

In a recent posting (1/30/2008) I described the golden coconut rice I learned in Malaysia. It needs something to go with it. A good one is soy sauce-marinated chicken medallions, which in Malay-Indonesian would be called 'kicap ayam' (KEE chop EYE yahm) and in Thai, 'gai see yu' (guy see YOU). Both in their respective languages simply mean 'soy sauce chicken'.

The simplest version is just chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast marinated for several hours in soy sauce plus a little dark soy sauce, and fried in a bit of oil in a non-stick pan. But a fancier version is the Malay-Indonesian style I learned years ago.

This dish has obvious Chinese influences. 'Kicap', meaning a seasoning sauce, particularly soy sauce, gave us our word 'ketchup', pronounced almost the same despite the spelling. Until the second half of the 20th century, 'ketchup' could be any of a number of types of thick sauce, including one made of mushrooms. Gradually the word narrowed to mean the tomato sauce that goes on hamburgers and the like. Chicken, incidentally, is native to the Malay Archipelago, domesticated from the beautiful local jungle fowl ('ayam hutan'), then spread world-wide.

The dish is simple to make, but very tasty. It's a bit spicy. The cayenne can be reduced, but Malay and Indonesian food is often 'hot'. The recipe serves four to six when accompanied by rice. Try the golden coconut rice (1/30/08 posting) for a delightful meal. As would be typical with Southeast Asian food, beer, malty rather than hoppy, like Thai Singha, Chinese Tsingdao, or Dutch Heinikens, would do well, as would one of my favorites, Bass Ale.

Malaysian Soy Sauce Chicken Tim

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh
3 tablespoons soy sauce (not “lite”)
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or crushed hot red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil for the chicken
2 shallots or a small onion (or already fried onion, available at Asian groceries)
Oil for frying
2 tablespoons oil-roasted peanuts for garnish (the red-skinned 'Spanish' style are closest to the Malaysian style)
Chopped or sprigs of cilantro (coriander leaf) for garnish
Cucumber for accompaniment, ideally small pickling type

Remove fatty and tough parts from the chicken. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch thick slices no more than 2-inches long and mix with the soy sauce, cornstarch, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Then mix in 2 tablespoons of oil. Let the chicken marinate 20 -30 minutes.

If using fresh shallot or onion, slice it thinly lengthwise, dust it lightly with flour and fry it in oil in a non-stick frying pan, turning it frequently until golden. Remove it to a paper towel to drain and cool. Break it up into pieces.

Remove most of the oil from the pan and reheat the pan. Quickly fry half the marinated chicken, stirring and turning it frequently, until the raw color is gone and the chicken begins to brown in spots. Thigh takes a little longer cooking than breast. Remove it to a clean bowl. Add a little more oil to the pan and similarly fry the rest of the chicken. Add it to the previously cooked chicken.

Serve the chicken on a bed of rice (ideally rice cooked in coconut milk). Sprinkle with the fried shallots or onions, peanuts, and cilantro. Peel the cucumber only if the skin is tough or waxed. Cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices, or preferably into wedges using a rolling cut. Rinse the cucumber pieces with water, drain quickly and surround the rice with the pieces.

Accompany with an Asian chili-garlic sauce.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i found your blog through your fabulous daughter Rachel and have enjoyed many of your dishes. i came on today to thank you for the Watershed shrimp and grits dish - i made it for my girlfriend last night and it was amazing! i think i'll try your soy sauce chicken tonight - looks interesting. thanks so much for this great blog.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Tim Dondero said...

Thanks for your comments, whoever you are -- you came up as "anonymous". I'm glad ou liked the grits. I think of them as half way toward risotto, and a pretty far reach from breakfast grits.

Tim

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Kristi (rachel's friend) said...

Hi Mr. Dondero,
I tried this dish last night for a friend; it might be my fav of yours yet! very simple and tasty. thank you and happy v-day! by the way - any ideas for a romantic dinner or dessert?

12:08 PM  
Blogger Tim Dondero said...

Kristi: I'm glad you like the chicken, which is from Malaysia, like Rachel was originally. It's probably too late for a V-day recommendation, but try the salmon with three peppers sauce (on the posting several weeks ago). The pink and the green work very well. It's also pretty fast and easy. It goes well with either cheese-jalapeno grits or gourmet mashed potatoes. Tim

7:02 PM  
Blogger Tim Dondero said...

Kristi: I'm glad you like the chicken, which is from Malaysia, like Rachel was originally. It's probably too late for a V-day recommendation, but try the salmon with three peppers sauce (on the posting several weeks ago). The pink and the green work very well. It's also pretty fast and easy. It goes well with either cheese-jalapeno grits or gourmet mashed potatoes. Tim

7:03 PM  

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