Ayam Goreng Ungkep or Indonesian Fried chicken is braised in rich spices and herbs, then deep-fried or baked until crispy. The infused chicken has so much flavor and aroma that keeps you get addicted.
What comes to your mind when you think of fried chicken? Many associate fried chicken with deep-fried chicken pieces with the crispy seasoned craggy crust. However, today’s fried chicken is different from the western fried chicken you know for because this dish ditches the heavy, floury breading for a heady spice mixture.
There are actually countless variations of Indonesian fried chicken. However, this Ayam Goreng Ungkep or also known as Ayam Goreng Kuning (Yellow Fried Chicken) is one of the most popular variations in Indonesia. The blend is different depending on the region. The yellow seasoning is satisfyingly spot on- strong but not outrageously overpowering – the marinated flesh is tender and juicy inside and crispy the deep golden skin is sheer perfection. You can’t go wrong with fried chicken.
What is Ayam Goreng Ungkep?
Ayam Goreng Ungkep is a traditional Indonesian-style fried chicken. “Ayam goreng” translates to fried chicken and “ungkep” in Javanese means braising. The chicken is first braised in aromatic spices and herbs for some time prior to frying, for the chicken to absorb the spices. Then, the chicken is fried in oil until golden brown the skin is crispy.
Marinating while heating the chicken in ground spices ensures the spices are locked in. With this method, the seasonings get embedded into the chicken instead of the batter. In addition, you don’t have to worry about the uncooked chicken because the chicken pieces are already cooked when you fry them.
The Ingredients You Need
- Chicken. Ayam Goreng Ungkep usually uses skin-in, bone-in whole chicken that is cut into several pieces. If you are a vegan, you can also substitute the chicken with tofu and tempeh.
- Coconut water or water. Use coconut water to add more depth and flavor instead of normal water.
- Coriander seeds. These seeds fall into the warm/sweet spice category, with a mild citrusy and woody flavor
- Candlenuts. Candlenuts are used in cooking as a thickener. If you can’t find any, substitute with macadamia nuts or cashew nuts.
- Garlic. For aromatic flavor and aroma.
- Shallots. Shallots used in Southeast Asian cuisine tend to be small with a red exterior and white interior. Unlike western shallots which tend to be larger, Indonesian shallots are small and sweeter in flavor. The individual cloves resemble garlic cloves with pointed tapered ends.
- Galangal. Galangal has a similar appearance to ginger but has a different aroma and color. It tastes spicy and peppery.
- Ginger. It gives a warm, sweet aroma and a hot, biting flavor to the dish.
- Turmeric. Fresh turmeric is the star ingredient in the bright-yellow paste. It looks a bit like ginger on the outside and is bright orange on the inside. If you can’t find fresh turmeric, you can also use turmeric powder.
- Salam leaves. Salam leaves are often called Indonesian or Indian bay leaves. However, salam leaves are totally different from the bay leaves as they are from an unrelated family of plants. They smell distinguishably different. Therefore, I suggest you skip salam leaves if you can’t get hold of it.
- Kaffir lime leaves. They are used to add earthy citrus flavors to the food.
- Lemongrasses. Gives a citrus-like aroma to the dish.
- Seasonings. Salt and sugar for taste.
- Cooking oil. For deep-frying.
How to Make Ayam Goreng Ungkep
- Simply grind all the spices into a pestle and mortar, or spice grinder, or immersion blender with a little bit of water to form a paste.
- Stir fry the paste with lemongrasses, kaffir lime leaves, and salam leaves until fragrant.
- Add the chicken pieces and mix until they are covered in spices. Then, add water and let it boil. Season with salt and sugar for taste.
- Close the lid and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes to lock in the spices into the chicken. When the chicken is fully marinated, you can immediately fry or bake the chicken or store the leftovers for the next few days.
- Drain the chicken and deep-fry in oil. Flip the chicken halfway through cooking. Fry 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. You can also bake the chicken if desired.
- Best eaten with steaming rice and Sambal Terasi (shrimp paste chili sauce).
Make In Bulk and Store For Later
Make this Ayam Goreng Ungkep in several batches and freeze for easy midweek meals. Once you are done braising the chicken, let it cool completely and put the pieces into several airtight containers or ziplock plastic bags. When you need them, leave them to thaw in the fridge the night before frying or baking them.
- Turmeric stains. While it tastes delicious and adds luscious color to the food, turmeric stains pretty much on contact. If you worry about it staining everywhere, use gloves and put a disposable kitchen towel below when cutting it.
- Braise the chicken for a longer time. The chicken will end up more flavorful if you take your time marinating them.
- Oil splattering. Drain the chicken before frying to minimize oil splattering.
- Don’t fry the chicken too long. The chicken will end up dry and overcooked if you fry them too long.