Chicken with Spices and Soy Sauce

a very simple recipe, called ayam Kecap, which will often appear as one of the dishes on a Padang restaurant menu. Any leftovers taste equally good when reheated the following day.
Dark soy sauce is thicker and more salty than light. Adding the dark variety will give a deeper colour to the chicken.


serves 4
1.5 kg (3 - 3 1/2 lb) chicken, jointed and cut in 16 pieces
3 onions, sliced
about 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) 4 cups water
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 - 4 fresh red chillies, seeded and sliced, or 15 ml (1 tbsp) chilli powder
45 - 60 ml (3 - 4 tbsp) oil
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg
6 whole cloves
5 ml (1 tsp) tamarind pulp, soaked in 45 ml (3 tbsp) warm water
30 - 45 ml (2 - 3 tbsp) dark or light soy sauce
fresh red chilli shreds, to garnish
boiled rice, to serve


1. Prepare the chicken and place the pieces in a large pan with one of the onions. Pour over enough water to just cover. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

2. Grind the remaining onions, with the garlic and chillies, to a fine paste in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar. Heat a little of the oil in a wok or frying pan and cook the paste to bring out the flavour, but do not allow to brown.

3. When the chicken has cooked for 20 minutes, lift it out of the stock in the pan using a draining spoon and put it straight into the spicy mixture. Toss everything together over a fairly high heat so that the spices permeate the chicken pieces. Reserve 300 ml/ '/2 pint/1 'A cups of the chicken stock to add to the pan later.

4. Stir in the nutmeg and cloves. Strain the tamarind and add the tamarind juice and the soy sauce to the chicken. Cook for a further 2—3 minutes, then add the reserved stock.

5. Taste and adjust the seasoning and cook, uncovered, for a further 25 - 35 minutes, until the chicken pieces are tender.

6. Serve the chicken in a bowl, topped with shredded chilli, and eat with boiled rice.

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