In the spirit of Ramadhan, I thought I’d do some local dishes popular during this time. I must confess, I have never had ayam percik before so when I planned to do this dish, I would have no palate reference to say. But trusting my fellow bloggers who are more experienced, I took it on anyway. My only concern was how to get that nice char on top. I was afraid to use my grill pan because the surface would be uneven on the chicken and I was paranoid about overcooking it in the oven. I settled for the grill in my oven, set on full whack but I would keep watch on it like a hawk.
I decided to follow the recipe from Kelly Siew Cooks because it looks simple enough but I big up the portion of the spice paste because I bought two fairly BIG chicken Marylands or thighs. I needed more paste for the marinade to coat the entire two chicken thighs. Plus, I want lots for gravy later and you still need some for basting.
It is quite nice to have a cup of that nice gravy on the side, I don’t know if that’s how ayam percik is served but if you find it needs some kind of sauce, it’s always better to make more on the paste. Admittedly after I cooked everything, there was still a lot of gravy left, so these portions in the recipe could even be enough for 3 chicken thighs.
To go with the chicken and the rice, I made a quick dish of pickled cucumber and carrot ribbons with red onions and chillies. It is a simple mix of 1 part rice vinegar to 1 part water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons sugar. If you like it more crunchy, do it like an hour before serving. If you prefer it softer, do it 3 hours before.
AYAM PERCIK RECIPE
(recipe from Kelly Siew Cooks with changes)
2 chicken thighs (Maryland)
1 stalk lemongrass
150 ml water
100 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon tamarind paste, dissolved with
some water (remove seeds)
Salt to taste
Lime wedges (optional)
Coriander for garnish
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 thumb-sized ginger
2 fresh chillies (seeds removed)
5 dried chillies (soaked, seeds removed)
3 stalks lemongrass (the ends only)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
A bunch of spring onion stalks (optional, I just had them lying around and tossed it in the mix)
200 ml coconut milk
1. Prep all ingredients for spice paste and blend with coconut milk.
2. Place chicken in a large zip lock bag, pour in the blended paste, rub it all over the chicken and leave it to marinade overnight or for at least 2 hours.
3. Heat a large wok and tip the chicken with marinade and all into the wok. Add water, cardamon pods, cloves and lemongrass-smashed at the root.
4. Let it come to a simmer in medium heat. When the gravy starts to ‘spit’, cover with lid and let it simmer for half-hour, turning it to the other side every 10 mins.
5. Before the last 10 mins, add the 100 ml coconut milk and tamarind. Taste and add white pepper and salt (if needed).
6. Close lid and let it simmer again. This time, turn on your oven to full, 250C with the top grill on.
7. Pick up the chicken with tongs carefully, place it on a tray with a roasting rack. Put aluminum foil underneath the rack to catch the drippings.
8. Pour more of the gravy on top of the chicken to coat it. Grill it for about 3-4 minutes on top side and 2-3 mins on bottom. Don’t take your eyes of it, it could easily burn.
9. As soon as you get a nice char, take it out of the oven.
10. Serve with cooked rice, some pickled vegetables and lime wedges on the side.
11. Spoon the gravy onto a bowl if you want extra gravy.