Ayam Sioh

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ayam Sioh is a simple Nonya staple.

As you should know by now, Nonya or Peranakan is a cuisine which evolved from the coming together of Chinese (mostly Hokkien) and Malay cuisine cultures. Sometimes, it reflects foreign cultural influences like Portuguese, Dutch and English as well, those being the colonial masters of earlier years. It is also called "Straits Cuisine" as most of the areas where Nonya culture evolved from were port cities like Melaka, Penang and Singapore.

In this recipe, using the tau-chu or soy bean paste is obviously from Chinese cuisine. But what other ingredient marks it out as Nonya? Tamarind paste and ketumbar.

Ketumbar is basically a Malay term for Coriander powder. Technically one should call it serbuk ketumbar, but typically the term alone speaks for itself.  Tau chu+ ketumbar + tamarind, and the coming together of this Chinese and Malay  paste and spice in this recipe reflects it's inter-cultural roots.

It is a very simple and delicious recipe. Good on its own with white rice. It's simple flavours goes especially well with the complex flavours of Nasi Ulam and I often pair them together.

You can opt for boneless chicken meat which is easier and faster to cook. I prefer boned-in chicken pieces. Use the more flavourful free range or "Kampung" chicken if you can, as this breed of chicken always turns out better in simple recipes like this.

1 Chicken, cut into medium-sized pieces.
2 Tbsp tau chu  or preserved brown soy bean paste
1 tsp ketumbar or coriander powder
10 shallots
5 garlic pieces
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 Tbsp Sugar
a cup of oil
a cup of water

For garnishing: coriander leafs

  1. Blend or pound the shallots and garlic into a paste.
  2. Heat up the oil in the wok. Then add the shallot-garlics paste, soy bean paste, sugar, coriander powder and tamarind paste.
  3. Simmer for 5 minites. 
  4. Add the chicken pieces in and mix around.
  5. After 5 minutes, add the water, cover the wok and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir it from time to time. 
Serve it warm, garnished with coriander leafs. This dish keeps well and you just reheat it before serving.

If you prefer, you can use fresh coriander seeds. Toast and pound it into a powder. Sometimes I also add some chilli to this dish. You can increase the sourness by adding more tamarind. My recipe here gives more emphasis to the tau chu or tau cheong. Don't confuse this with tau see, the darker and black preserved soy beans.

Enjoy this simple Nonya recipe.

A batch of Ayam Sioh cooked in the wok. 


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