Sambal Shiok is a brilliant collection of over 90 accessible recipes that were handed down from Mandy Yin’s mother as well as those that she has developed for her critically acclaimed, award-winning London restaurant. The recipes—such as her signature curry laksa, Penang assam laksa, Malaysian fried chicken, prawn fritters, spiral curry puffs, flaky roti canai, beef rendang, KL golden fragrant clams, sambal mapo tofu, and the perfect steamed rice—can be made for a weekday family meal, a dinner party or celebration.
Malaysian food results from the unique merger over centuries of indigenous Malay ingredients with Indian spices and Chinese techniques. Every dish delicately balances sweet, sour, salty with chilli heat and a hint of bitter. With Mandy’s evocative look at Malaysian food culture, her recipes, and the basics of a Malaysian pantry (shrimp paste, lemongrass, tamarind and coconut milk), you can easily enjoy the most delicious Malaysian meals at home.
Malaysian Fried Chicken
This is the most popular snack at the restaurant—who can resist fried chicken?!
My starting point is, of course, chicken satay, fresh and dripping with charcoal smoke, dipped into peanut sauce, which is found everywhere in Malaysia. Charcoal grilling (broiling) presents much more of a challenge in the UK’s cold, wet climate, so here I use my satay spice paste to marinate strips of chicken thigh (affectionately known as tenders), then dredge them in egg and then a spiced gram flour coating before frying. I use gram flour (a flour made from chickpeas) to make the recipe gluten-free, meaning I can serve it to as many people as possible, without needing to adapt the recipe for those avoiding gluten. I’d come across gram flour used in Indian dishes such as vadai (savoury doughnuts) so I knew that it was extremely flavourful.
This recipe needs to be started at least five hours in advance or the night before to allow for marinating time. You MUST use chicken thighs for this recipe for maximum juiciness. This yields crunchy, crispy chicken tenders, supremely fragrant and tasty from their satay marinade. Biting into a juicy piece of my fried chicken is heaven in itself, or you can serve them with the Peanut Sauce (see below) as a bonus!
75g (2½ oz) Satay Spice Paste (see below)
SPICED FLOUR MIX
250g (9oz) gram flour
1½ tsp salt
1½ tbsp ground coriander
1½ tbsp chilli powder
1½ tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
3 eggs, beaten Oil, for frying
Peanut Sauce (see below), to serve
- Marinate the chicken in the satay spice paste for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
- Combine all the ingredients for the spiced flour mix in a bowl, mix well, then transfer to a shallow dish.
- Add the beaten eggs to another shallow dish.
- Heat at least 5cm (2in) of oil in a large pan until it reaches 190°C (375°F).
- When you are ready to fry, prepare the chicken (if you do so too far in advance, the chicken will become sticky). Using gloved hands, first dredge the chicken in the egg and then through the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour.
- Fry the chicken pieces in small batches for 90 seconds until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pan, otherwise the temperature will not be maintained. Turn halfway through to ensure even cooking.
- Rest the fried chicken on a cooling rack – the pieces will crisp up once cooled a little. Allow the oil temperature to increase back to 190°C (375°F) before frying the next batch.
- Serve with peanut sauce.
Satay Spice Paste
1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
600g (1lb 5oz) onion, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp salt
100g (3½oz) dark brown sugar
Blend all the ingredients into a fine purée consistency. If using a smaller food processor or handheld stick blender, you will have to work in batches, combining the batches once they’re ready. Always mix lemongrass with some onion to provide easier fodder for the blender’s blades (blitzing lemongrass by itself can be very hard work and you will be left with undesirable hard, fibrous strands).
180g (6¼oz) lightly salted peanuts, dry-toasted
75g (2½oz) Satay Spice Paste
200ml (scant 1 cup) coconut milk
60g (2¼oz) dark brown sugar
2½ tbsp tamarind paste
¼ tsp chilli powder
150ml (scant 2∕3 cup) water
½ tsp salt (or less), to taste
- Grind the peanuts using the pulse function of a food processor until you get a rough, sandy texture.
- Add the ground peanuts, along with the rest of the sauce ingredients, to a medium-sized saucepan. Set over a medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent the sauce at the bottom of the pan from burning. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardier Grant Books.