Monday, January 19, 2009

Ayam Masak Merah

I was craving for some spicy comfort food. The first thing I did was walk into my pantry and pull out the large bag dried chillies that my sister in law had included in a care package for me. I went through a mental check list my favourite sambal dishes as I soaked the spicy dried chillies in a bowl of hot water.

Ayam Masak Merah (red cooked chicken) is a popular Malaysian dish. What makes this dish different from other sambals is the use of aromatic spices such as cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and cardamom pods. The spice paste also includes coriander , turmeric, cumin and fennel, all in powder form.

This is a three part recipe. Soak the dried chilies first in hot water until softened and gather all the ingredients to make the spice paste. Give it a whirl in a blender and set aside. Then marinate chicken pieces in salt and turmeric powder for at least one hour before deep frying the chicken briefly. This ensures the juices of the chicken are sealed in and also to prevent the chicken pieces from falling apart while cooking in the spicy paste.

Ayam Masak Merak
You could de-seed the dried chillies if you wish to temper the heat. This dish will be quite spicy otherwise.

Spice Paste (A)
7 small shallots - peeled
5 cloves of garlic - peeled
1 Tb minced fresh ginger
10 - 12 dried chillies - soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes
1 Tb coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel powder
1 Tb vegetable oil
3/4 cup water

Drain the chillies, place all ingredients in a blender and puree ingredients till smooth.

Chicken (B)
1 medium sized organic chicken (around 3 pounds) - I cut mine into 14 pieces
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
oil for deep frying

Wash and pat dry chicken. Cut into pieces and mix with salt and turmeric powder. Set in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Bring chicken to room temperature. Heat oil on medium high heat. Fry chicken pieces 1 minute on each side. Drain fried pieces on 2 sheets of kitchen paper.

Saute ingredients
1 small can of tomato paste
4 whole cloves
1 star anise
4 Tb vegetable oil
2 pieces of cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods - bruised
400 ml coconut milk
salt to taste
2/3 Tb sugar

Heat oil in a large pan or wok. Saute cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and cinnamon sticks for 3 minutes on medium heat. Pour in the pureed spice paste (A) and saute for 15 minutes stirring constantly. Watch that the spice paste does not burn. Add in one small can of tomato paste, salt, sugar, mix well and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add fried pieces of chicken and coconut milk and cook covered until chicken is cooked through. Life the cover and stir occasionally. Lift the cover and cook until sauce thickens. Adjust seasonings and serve with steamed white rice.


Esi said...

Maya, everything you make looks so flavorful! This is another great one. Do you think it would be possible to use chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken?

Maya said...

You could use chicken breast but it the dish would be more flavourful is you used chicken with bones.

pigpigscorner said...

Love this dish! I've never made this from scratch though, would love to try one day.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

That photo of your chilies is just gorgeous!

pinkstripes said...

The spice pastes sounds yummy. I love chile and spicy things.

Hungry Gal said...

Found your site via tastespotting. Your photos are lovely.

This looks so delicious. Yum

Hannah said...

Wow, those chilis look potent! Great picture. :)

Maya said...

pigpigscorner - Give it a try!
mari -thank you.

pinkstripes- Then you are in for a treat.
hungry gal - thanks for stopping by. come again any time :)

hannah - thank you.

Jo said...

oh yummy, ayam masak merah. you've now got me thinking of nasi padang for lunch!

babe_kl said...

grrr suddenly craving for some now :p

Salt N Turmeric said...

I wanted to make ayam masak merah last night using the powder paste that a friend got for me fr KL. It requires the use of coconut milk. I tasted it and chucked it into the garbage. Thank god i didnt put in the chicken yet. lol.

Sig said...

Oh yummy! I've had this in restaurants, thank you for the recipe. I am bookmarking this to try.

Shu Han said...

That looks soo good. I am bookmarking this definitely. must make.

Anonymous said...

A great guideline for my 'tasteslike-wedding-masak merah' with a little modification using few ingredients available in my mini kitchen,(yellow onion,shallots,garlic,ginger,tomato puree,dry chillies,chicken,sugar,salt and green peas). I've tried few other version b4 but this one came out perfect! Thx again for the recipe.i believe,if cooked using all the ingredients,it would tasted even greater! :) -conteesa's kitchen