Ayam Masak Merah (Malay Style Red Chicken)

I felt a little ashamed to call this dish Ayam Masak Merah but really, I tried my best. It ended up tasting not very close to Ayam Masak Merah but Aaron insisted it did taste close to it. Perhaps, he just wants to make me happier. After all, this is my first attempt.

For those of you all who are not from Malaysia, Ayam Masak Merah is very typical of Malaysia and exceptionally famous among the Malays in Malaysia. This dish is sweet-ish and spicy. Ayam Masak Merah directly translates to Chicken Cook Red in native Malay.

Ayam Masak Merah brings back good memories for Aaron because this is what his mum cooks often for him when he was in Malaysia and staying with his parents. I tried to replicate it by combining various sources and came up with my own version (recipe below). It ended up not very close to those that I've tried in Malaysia though. Don't get me wrong. The dish was yummy and finger licking good and we polished the plate off. It's just that I think it tasted like a combination of Ayam Masak Kicap (Chicken Cook Soy Sauce) and Caramelized Onion Chicken.

Maybe I complain too much. Aaron likes it. He happily hold it for me to take a picture of it. And we had this for dinner just now. Bright natural sunlight at 7:30pm. It' summer in Adelaide, good or bad?

Ayam Masak Merah
(serves 4)

6 to 8 large chicken drumsticks, cleaned and pat very dry
1 large red onion, sliced into half rings
1 small tomato, chopped into six wedges
1/2 tbsp sugar

Kuah (Sauce):
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp sweet dark soya sauce
1 cup of water
Salt to taste

Rempah (Spice paste):

2 pips of garlic
3 candlenuts/buah keras macadamia nuts
5 cloves shallots
1 lemongrass stalk, bottom 1 inch only, diced smallish
8 dried red chillies, deseeded and soaked in hot water until softened

Process all ingredients for Rempah until you get a fine paste. In a large nonstick pan (you'll need to hold 6 to 8 chicken drumsticks in it later), heat up 1/4 cup of canola oil until smoky. Add in the processed paste and fry over medium low heat until the oil separates and rises to the surface. The paste would also turn a shade darker and redish now.

Add in the onion rings and the tomato wedges now. Sprinkle sugar over to enhance caramelization. Cook until onions are slightly soft and releases aroma. Add in the chicken drumsticks now and sear on all sides until brown and onions and tomato wedges are very very soft and mushy.

Add in all ingredients for kuah and bring to a boil. When boiling, turn heat down to the lowest setting possible and cover pan with a heavy glass lid. Let it simmer for 30 minutes or more until meat is tender and fall off one but still intact. Gently pierce the meat with fork and you'll know.

Remove chicken drumsticks onto serving plate and top with onion rings generously. Turn up the heat and thicken up the remaining gravy in the pan until bubbly and reduced. Strain off oil if there is too much and drizzle over chicken. You shouldn't get that much of a gravy really because Ayam Masak Merak is rather dry but flavourful. You can add slightly less than 1 cup of water because the purpose of the water really is to help cook it.

Serve with a bowl of steamed hot rice. The Malays in Malaysia generally serve this with Nasi Tomato (Tomato Rice) but I don't quite like Nasi Tomato, just my personal preference. Try it, who knows you might like it (provided you've not tried Ayam Masak Merah before in your entire life!)

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Anncoo said...

Never try this Ayam Masak Merah before but its really looks yummy.

Jo said...

Although this is not the real stuff it still looks delicious. The chicken pieces looks so moist too! Great clicks by the way.

zurin said...

I hope Aaron realizes how lucky he is to have you!!!! :)))

Quinn said...

Anncoo: You should try if you've not heard of it. They are yummy, spicy and sweetish tasting.

Jo, thank you for all the compliments! It's delicious but I'm just whimpering that it doesn't taste too close to the real thing you see...

Zu: Lemme go tell him now and if he doesn't realise that, I'll shoot him through his head!

Rizka said...

Hmmm this looks delicious! Im from indonesia, and i too love cooking asian recipe.. I am bookmarking this post for me to try one day.. Thx for sharing the recipe !


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