How to Make Ayam Goreng Mentega / Fried Chicken in Buttery Sweet Soy Sauce

What’s your childhood favorite food? To most Indonesian around my age, ahem, the top spot is probably reserved for ayam goreng mentega – fried chicken in buttery sweet soy sauce. Crispy fried chicken pieces, coated with sweet sticky buttery sauce that is finger licking good, you just know you are in for a good time with this dish.

Whole chicken?

Almost all restaurants that serve this dish use one whole chicken cut into roughly 20 pieces of chicken (with skin and bone intact). If you have a friendly butcher that is willing to help you chop up your chicken, by all mean do give the traditional method a try since the bone and the skin does improve the dish (but be ready to get messy comes chow time). For everyone else, I guarantee that using skinless boneless chicken thigh is delicious enough without taking away too many points from the traditional method.

The Recipe

Ayam Goreng Mentega – Fried Chicken in Buttery Sweet Soy Sauce

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Fried chicken
  • 600 gram boneless skinless chicken thigh, cut into strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100 gram all purpose flour
  • ½ tablespoon tapioca starch (or corn starch)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper (or ground black pepper)
  • enough oil for deep frying
  • Buttery sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion (~200 gram), thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoon Indonesian sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Fried chicken
    1. Mix together chicken with bruised garlic, lime juice, and salt. Then let rest for 15 minutes.
    2. Whisk together all purpose flour, tapioca starch, and salt. Toss the chicken into flour mixture to fully coat. There shouldn’t be any standing liquid at all at this point.
    3. Heat enough oil in a wok/pot for deep frying. Once the oil is hot enough (it should looks shimmering and runnier), add the coated chicken pieces, in batches if needed, and fry until golden brown. Set aside over a wire rack while we prepare the sauce.
  • Buttery sweet soy sauce
    1. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant and onion is translucent.
    2. Season with salt, ground pepper, and sugar. Mix well.
    3. Add Indonesian sweet soy sauce and worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
    4. Once the sauce bubbles, quickly return fried chicken pieces to the frying pan and toss gently to coat.
    5. Turn off the heat, and transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.

How to Make Ikan Goreng Saus Lemon / Fried Fish in Honey Lemon Sauce

Crispy fried fish batons coated with sublime thick honey lemon sauce. You just know you are going to have a tough time stopping yourself from eating the whole lot in one seating. If you do make this ikan goreng saus lemon – fried fish in honey lemon sauce, be sure to share. Or just make half portion if it’s for two. Although the recipe can easily serves 8, I can guarantee that even for 4, you’ll have to be fighting over the last bits.

Deep Frying 101

Most people hate deep frying, but to get that crunchy exterior enveloping each fish baton, you just had to brace yourself and learn how to deep fry. The most important thing is to make sure the batter is super thick. If you see standing water in your batter, I can guarantee that there will be lots of splatter during deep frying. The recipe I give should give a thick batter, but if for whatever reason you see a thin batter, add a bit more flour to make it thick. The rest of the deep frying steps should be a walk in the park.

Honey Lemon Sauce

This honey lemon sauce is super easy and doesn’t need much. What you really want to do though is to stick to using real lemons, that way you get both the juice and the zest. The zest just adds so much depth to the overall flavor. In a pinch, you can use lemon concentrate, but it just won’t taste as nice. Obviously you can never really control how sour the lemons you get, so feel free to adjust the amount of sugar (and possibly salt) to tweak the sauce to your liking.

The Recipe

Ikan Goreng Saus Lemon – Fried Fish in Honey Lemon Sauce

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 40 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • Fried Fish
  • 800 gram tilapia fish fillet, cut into batons
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100 gram all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • 2 cups all bread crumbs
  • Honey Lemon Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 onion (~ 200 gram), thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lemons, zest and juiced (~ 2 tablespoon zest, ~ 4 tablespoon juice)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water (or stock)
  • 1-2 tablespoon sugar, as needed
  • tapioca slurry (2 tablespoon tapioca starch + 2 tablespoon water, mixed well)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional garnish)

Instructions

  • Fried Fish
    1. Marinate fish batons with lemon juice and salt for 15 minutes.
    2. Mix together all purpose flour, salt, sugar, and water into a paste. Add this to the marinated fish and gently toss to coat each fish baton.
    3. Heat enough oil in a wok/pot for deep frying over medium heat. Once the oil is hot (~ 180 Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit), coat the fish batons in bread crumbs and fry until golden brown.
    4. Set aside fried fish over strainer/wire rack to remove excess oil.
  • Honey Lemon Sauce
    1. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant and the onion is translucent.
    2. Add in lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and salt. Stir to mix well.
    3. Pour water (or stock) into the frying pan, mix well, and bring to a boil. Take a taste test. If the sauce is too sour, add sugar to reduce sourness.
    4. Thicken the sauce by stirring in the tapioca slurry. Keep on stirring until the sauce is thick, about 1-2 minutes.
    5. Return the fried fish to the pan, gently toss to coat. Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with thinly sliced scallions, and serve immediately.

How to Make Tahu Tumis Kemangi / Tofu & Basil Stir Fry

Whenever I buy tofu, I love turning a couple of blocks at once into fried tofu cubes. They are so handy to quickly whip up a batch of satisfying meal, such as this tahu tumis kemangi – tofu & basil stir fry. I also like to add them to my salad.

Thai basil

You can generally find Thai basil (Indonesian: daun kemangi) in most Asian groceries. You may think that Italian basil is a good substitute, but it actually is not. Asian dishes never use Italian basil. If you must substitute, it is preferable to use the same amount of cilantro. Yes, the dish will taste different, but I think cilantro matches better with the rest of the ingredients compared to Italian basil.

Tahu Tumis Kemangi – Tofu & Basil Stir Fry

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 block firm tofu (~ 400 gram / 14 oz.)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • corn starch / all-purpose flour
  • oil, for deep frying
  • 50 gram shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bird eye chilies, seeded
  • 5 gram (1 teaspoon) shrimp paste (Indonesian: terasi, Malaysian: belacan), toasted (*)
  • 1 tomato, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
  • 4-5 stalks (~ 1/4 cup packed) Thai basil leaves (Indonesian: daun kemangi)

Instructions

  1. Drain the tofu block really well, cut into 1″ cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, lightly dusted with corn starch (or all-purpose flour), and deep fried until light golden brown. Set aside to drain.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté shallot, garlic, bird eye chilies, and toasted shrimp paste until fragrant. About 3 minutes.
  3. Add tomato slices, salt, and sugar. Stir until tomato looks wilted and slightly saucy.
  4. Return fried tofu cubes to frying pan, and stir in the sweet soy sauce. Gently toss until tofu cubes are coated in sauce.
  5. Finally, add Thai basil leaves, and stir until wilted. Turn off heat, and transfer to a serving plate. Serve with steamed white rice.

Notes

  • (*) Or 1 teaspoon of Thai shrimp paste, or 1 tablespoon of fish sauce.

How to Make Sambal Terasi Udang / Spicy Shrimp Sauce Prawns

Nowadays I rarely cook prawns because I have developed allergic reaction to shellfish and nuts. They are not life threatening, but still, I would rather not deal with them. If I just eat a spoonful and remember to quickly pop some Claritin, I will be fine. That said, my hubby is missing this sambal terasi udang – spicy shrimp sauce prawns very much and has been begging me to prepare it for him. So I hope you guys are going to enjoy it as much as he does. Though I really really wish I can eat the whole thing, I know I need to exercise extreme self restrain or else.

Double shrimp treatment

What is so great about this dish is the double use of shrimps/prawns, which makes this a super shrimpy dish. We have a pound of fresh fairly large prawns (I use the ~30 pieces/pound prawns). Then, the sauce has terasi in it, which is basically a block of fermented shrimp. You should be able to buy them from your Asian market. They are either imported from Malaysia in which case they are called belacan, or from Thailandwhich to be honest I have no idea what they are called. Either way, use the same amount as the recipe, and please remember to toast first with your frying pan. If you want a super duper simple way, you can just microwave for 1 minute.

Crack open your windows

Terasi is great, it’s like fish sauce but super extreme concentrated. Unfortunately, it does have quite a strong odor. To uninitiated, this can even be offensive. If you are a first timer, be sure to crack open your windows AND if you have hood, turn it on. I promise that despite the crazy smell, the dish is sure to turn out beautiful in the end.

Sambal Terasi Udang – Spicy Shrimp Sauce Prawns

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 35 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 lemongrass, bruised and knotted
  • 3-5 dried red chilies, seeded
  • 3/4 cup water
  • tamarind juice from 5 gram tamarind + 2 tablespoon water, massaged and strained
  • 1-2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
  • 450 gram (1 lb.) prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 100 gram shallot (or onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tomato
  • 3-5 red bird eye chilies, seeded
  • 1 inch galangal
  • 6 candlenuts (or 12 macadamia)
  • 10 gram shrimp paste (Indonesian: terasi), toasted

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a wok/frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté spice paste, lemongrass, and dried red chilies until fragrant and cooked. About 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add water, tamarind juice, salt, and sugar. Stir, then cover the wok/pan with a lid, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  4. Give a quick taste test and add salt/sugar if needed. Add in the prawns and kaffir lime leaves. Cover again with lid, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or just until the prawns are cooked.
  5. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with steamed white rice.

How to Make Pisang Goreng Madu / Honey Fried Bananas

Anyone who grows up in Indonesian definitely has a fond memory of pisang goreng (banana fritters). It is the most ubiquitous street food snack, a perennial favorite for all ages, from little kids to grandmas and grandpas. Here I added honey to the batter to produce pisang goreng madu (honey batter fried bananas).

Pisang kepok (saba bananas)

We don’t typically use eating bananas (a.k.a. cavendish bananas) for deep frying, or any sort of banana dish that needs cooking for that matter. Instead, we either use sabana banana (Indonesian: pisang kepok) or plaintain (Indonesian: pisang tanduk). Either one is fine for this recipe, but I stick to saba banana since that is the most common banana for making pisang goreng. Also, you want to wait for the bananas to ripen before using them. I usually wait patiently until the skins are all yelllow and even develop plenty of dark spots before turning them into fritters!

Tips for crispy fritters

Everyone loves crispy fritters, and I have two tips to help ensure your banana fritters have crispy skin. First, make sure the oil is hot before starting to deep fry. If you have a cooking thermometer, you want to start frying once the oil reaches 170 Celsius/340 Fahrenheit. Second, make sure your water to make the batter is super cold. If you have ice cubes in your freezer, it can really help if you throw in extra 5-6 ice cubes to keep the batter as cold as possible.

Pisang Goreng Madu

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 20 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 8-12 ripe saba bananas (Indonesian: pisang kepok), peeled
  • 100 gram all-purpose flour
  • 50 gram rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: salt, baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 200 ml ice-cold water
  • enough oil for deep frying

Instructions

  1. Heat enough oil in a pot for deep frying.
  2. Make three slices along each banana’s length, but keep the bottom 1 inch intact, so it can be opened up like a fan.
  3. Mix all-purpose flour, rice flour salt, baking powder, honey, and ice-cold water in a mixing bowl to make the batter.
  4. Once the oil is hot (~ 170 Celsius / 340 Fahrenheit), dip each banana into the batter, and fry until golden brown and crispy. About 2 minutes each. Remove and drain on paper towel/wire rack. Serve immediately.

How to Make Sup Bakso Ayam / Chicken Meatballs Soup

Nothing is better to warm up the body from rainy season and a bit of cold weather than a bowl of piping hot sup bakso ayam (chicken meatballs soup). Those that have visited Indonesia probably have experienced the many sup bakso sellers scatter in the many side streets around the country. Back when I was still in school, a bowl of sup bakso is definitely among my favorite food.

Bakso ayam (chicken meatballs)

We like our bakso (meatballs) bouncy and juicy. If you have access to Asian markets, you probably notice that the frozen aisle is usually stocked up with a variety of meatballs, from fish, shrimp, beef, chicken, pork, cuttlefish, e.t.c. You cand definitely buy them ready made, but if you are feeling adventurous, making your own bakso (meatballs) is not difficult and you can give my bakso ayam (chicken meatballs) recipe a try.

Make a noodle bowl

I usually enjoy my bowl of sup bakso ayam with steamed white rice, but I have to admit that it is much more common for people to boil some noodles and add into the bowl of soup to make a complete meal. The most popular noodles we use is rice noodles (Indonesian: bihun), followed with flat rice noodles (Indonesian: kwetiau), and finally egg noodles (Indonesian: bakmi). You can even try using udon, soba, or ramen. 🙂

Sup Bakso Ayam – Chicken Meatballs Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (2 liter) chicken stock
  • 400 gram (~ 1 lb.) bakso ayam (Indonesian chicken meatballs)
  • 1 block (~ 1 lb.) firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 3-4 baby bokchoy, washed and drained, cut into sections
  • 2-3 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Accompaniments
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced Chinese celery, or substitute with fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3-4 tablespoon fried shallot flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoon fried minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Boil the chicken stock in a soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add chicken meatballs (bakso ayam) and tofu cubes. Cook until boiling.
  3. Add bok choy, season with salt, sugar, and ground pepper.
  4. Once it boils, turn off the heat. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Serve the soup hot with accompaniments.

How to Make Opor Ayam

Opor ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk) is one of many Indonesian dishes from Central Java. Most families serve opor ayam and ketupat (rice cake in woven palm leaf pouch) to celebrate Lebaran (Idul Fitri, or Eid). For more everyday occasions, you can spot opor ayam in a nasi gudeg meal set where the chicken is served with steamed white rice, gudeg (young jackfruit sweet stew), and sambal goreng krecek (crispy beef skin and chili stew).

Opor ayam is a child-friendly dish

Opor ayam is very mild compared to many Indonesian dishes. It has no chilies, making this dish very children friendly. I myself remember how this is one of my favorite dishes when I was a child myself. Although many Indonesian serve opor ayam as part of a set rice meal, it is by no mean a must. It is perfectly acceptable to serve opor ayam with nothing else but a bowl of steamed white rice. A side of sambal bajak or sambal terasi is, of course, a welcome addition to those who do love a bit of chili kick.

Opor Ayam

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

Serves: 4-8

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, cut into 4-8 pieces (or use 8 chicken drumsticks)
  • 1 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh), cut and bruised
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
  • 500 ml water
  • 200 ml coconut milk (Indonesian: santan)
  • fried shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah goreng), for garnish (optional)
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 100 gram shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
  • 4 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
  • 5 candlenut (Indonesian: kemiri) (or 8-10 macadamia nuts)
  • 1 inch galangal (Indonesian: lengkuas)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds (Indonesian: biji ketumbar)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (Indonesian: biji jinten)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a pot and stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add lemon grass, bay leaf, and kaffir lime leaf and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and cook until chicken is no longer pink.
  4. Add water and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced, about 20 minutes. Add salt and/or sugar as needed.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with fried shallots.

How to Make Terong Balado / Eggplants with Chili Sauce

Walk into any decent Padang restaurant, and you will be greeted with mountains of delicious food of your choosing. I’m talking rendang sapi, gulai nangka, soto Padang, kalio ayam, ayam pop, ayam bakar, sambal lado, and yup, balado. Balado is a red hot spicy sauce that you can use to stir fry all kind of food, with prawns, squids, eggs, potatoes, and eggplants being the most popular choice. I’ll share with you how to prepare terong balado (eggplants with chili sauce) in this recipe, but feel free to use it any way you like it.

How to prepare eggplants for a balado

For terong balado, you want to use Chinese eggplants, which are more slender and have softer skin compared to regular US eggplants. The first thing to do is to remove the stems from the eggplants, then cut into bite-size wedges, and soaked in salty cold water to prevent the flesh from turning brown. Next step is to deep fry eggplants for 1 to 2 minutes to bring out the color. The final step is to cook the balado sauce and then stir fry the deep fried eggplants in the sauce. You will want plenty of steamed white rice to go with your terong balado.

Terong Balado – Eggplants with Chili Sauce

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 4 Chinese eggplants (about 750 gram)
  • 8 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 50 gram palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa)
  • 20 gram tamarind, dissolve with 2 cups of warm water
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 40 gram fresh red chilies (fresno, or bird-eye, or a mix of the two), seeded if you want less heat
  • 100 gram shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Quarter eggplants lengthwise and cut into bite size pieces. Soak in cold water that has been sprinkled with plenty of salt to prevent eggplant flesh from turning into brown color.
  2. Heat cooking oil in a wok on high heat. Pat dry eggplants and fry for about 2 minutes to bring out the color. Drain over a wire rack to remove excess oil, and set aside.
  3. Remove the oil from the wok and leave about 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat the oil and stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Pour the tamarind juice and add the palm sugar. Boil for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Toss in the fried eggplants and boil again for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with steamed white rice.