How to Cook Ayam Masak Lemak (Chicken With Creamy Coconut Milk)
Food In Malay Culture
When I was young, I remember watching my mother cook every day in the kitchen. I would come home from school, and food would be waiting on the table for all of us to sit down and eat together. One of our most treasured Malay customs is for families to sit together and enjoy homecooked meals. Even if we didn't have much, we were always grateful for what we had to eat every day. This is certainly part of what has shaped who I am today.
Ayam Masak Lemak
While I visiting my hometown recently, I decided to make ayam masak lemak, or chicken with creamy coconut milk. It is a type of comfort food that my siblings and I enjoyed so much when we were young, and the dish always brings back childhood memories.
One of the main ingredients in this dish, other than chicken, is coconut milk. I should emphasize that I use fresh coconut milk that I grate from the shell. Fresh coconut milk is so much more creamy and flavorful than the canned variety. This dish also contains a lemongrass stalk as well as an ingredient called asam gelugur, both of which add delicious flavors to the sauce.
Now let's take a look at the recipe.
- 1 whole chicken, cut into parts
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 2 shallots, pounded with a mortar and pestle
- 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and crushed
- 5-6 birds eye's chilies
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 2 pieces dried asam gelugur (Garcinia atroviridis)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Salt for taste
- In a large bowl, marinate the chicken parts with some turmeric powder and some salt. Set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or a larger pan over high heat, fry the chicken parts until they are golden brown on both sides.
- Place the fried chicken in a bowl and set aside.
- With the same wok, saute the shallots and lemongrass until fragrant.
- Throw in the fried chicken into the mixture.
- Add the turmeric powder and give it a quick stir.
- Add the coconut milk and asam gelugur into the mixture. Use a spatula to stir the coconut milk with the chicken evenly. Let it simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the birds' eyes chilies and some salt. Don't forget to taste! If you like it spicy you can add more chilies.
- Let continue simmering for a few minutes and turn the heat off.
- Transfer to a serving bowl or plate and enjoy with steamed white rice.
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