Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ajam Seitan (Devilled Chicken)

Happy Sunday everyone.  I love lazy Sundays.  This one has been less lazy than most thus far - we hit Costco early this morning to stock up on meat, seafood and toilet paper, then we went to the farmers' market, and then we cooked lunch.  I was planning on hitting the gym too but my instep and Brady's canine had an unfortunate run-in, so running shoes and spinning shoes are a little uncomfortable right now.  Oh well.  I kept telling Alex that Brady harpooned me, but the truth is that we were equally at fault.

This recipe was another of Alex's selections.  Alex has a particular affinity for all things Dutch.  I have an affinity for all things Asian - so a Dutch/Indonesian recipe is right up both of our alleys.  This dish is fun because it is new and different.  I'm not used to the combination of mustard, lemon juice, sambal oelek, and ketjap manis.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with ketjap manis, ketjap manis is a thick, sweetened soy sauce.  It never would have occurred to me to marinate chicken thighs in mustard and then braise them in soy.  Those flavor combinations don't sound like they would work together.  And yet, they really do.  I'm not sure that I could taste the flavor of the mustard in the chicken, but the chicken was very flavorful.  The onions and ketjap manis gave the chicken a wonderful sweetness, and the lemon juice and the mustard gave it a nice acidity.  And then there is the spice and flavor from the sambal.  It is all very complex, but in some ways very familiar.  With the depth of flavor packed into the chicken, the cucumber salad is understandably light (almost bordering on bland).  And the yellow rice (basmati rice with some ground turmeric added in) was a really nice touch.  I didn't think that the turmeric would provide much flavor, but that subtle flavor worked really well with the chicken.  As far as meals go, it was a very successful one (aside from the fact that Alex had to run out halfway through when we realized we didn't have enough ketjap manis).  The flavors melded together really well and the components complimented each other nicely.

Recipe after the jump!

Ajam Seitan (Devilled Chicken)
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3 deboned organic chicken thighs
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 lemon
2 small onions
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sambal oelek (or chilli paste)
4 tbsp (stir fry) oil
3 tbsp ketjap manis (or regular soy sauce plus a pinch of sugar)

Season the chicken thighs with salt and thoroughly coat with the mustard. Roll them up again and keep covered in the fridge until ready to use.

Juice the lemon. Peel the onions and garlic and slice the onion finely. Mince the garlic.

Mix the onion, garlic, lemon juice and sambal thoroughly.

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken thighs on all sides for about 4 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove the chicken from the pan, add 1 tbsp oil and fry the onion-sambal mix over a low heat until the onion is tinged yellow.  Add the chicken back to the pan, along with the ketjap manis and 1 tbsp water, and bake the chicken for 12 minutes over a low heat until cooked (turning regularly and basting with the sauce). Most of the juices of the sauce should have evaporated by the end of the cooking time.

Serve the chicken with the onion sauce spooned over it. Serve yellow rice (rice with 1 tsp of turmeric added to the cooking water) and cucumber salad on the side.

Dutch Cucumber Salad
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1 cucumber
1 chile
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Salt & pepper

Halve the cucumber lengthways. Gouge out the seeds using a teaspoon. Discard seeds. Now cut the cucumber into thin half moon slices. Place the slices in a bowl. Cut the chile in half, remove the seeds and chop very finely. Add to the cucumber. Now make a salad dressing by adding together the oil, vinegar, and a pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Drizzle some of the salad dressing over the cucumber salad. 

Toss and serve. 

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