Ayam Buah Keluak is a classic Peranakan dish. Take it up a notch this year with this recipe by Michelin Star Chef Malcolm Lee of Candlenut
- 1 kg chicken pieces or chicken leg
- 15 Indonesian black nuts or buah keluak
- 50 g tamarind pulp, dissolved in 250 ml water, then strained
- 2 tbsps vegetable oil
- 100 g shallots
- 35 g garlic
- 8 g galangal, peeled and finely chopped
- 20 g turmeric, peeled and finely chopped
- 18 g candlenut
- 20 g dried chilli, soaked in hot water to soften
- 12 g belacan
- 15 g lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
To prepare the black nuts, soak for at least 3 days, scrubbing the nuts, and changing the water every day.
After the third day, remove nuts from water. Hold nut on a dishtowel and rest on a stable chopping board. Using a small hammer with a pointed tip, crack open at top where the nut is smooth.
Remove the meat of the nut and push through a fine sieve to get a firm smooth paste. Reserve 150 g of the black nut paste for the gravy. Stuff the rest of the black nut paste back into the nuts.
REMPAH Blend all the rempah ingredients till a smooth consistency.
Heat oil in wok. Saute rempah over medium heat till fragrant, about 20 mins. You’ll see the rempah turning darker and drier, and oil starts to separate.
Add in the black nut paste and tamarind water, simmer for 10 mins.
Add in chicken pieces making sure itís well coated with the rempah, stuffed black nuts and enough tamarind water to cover the meat. Bring to boil then simmer for about 30 minutes, till meat is tender. Season with salt and sugar. Serve with steamed rice.
Chef’s Tip: You need patience to cook the rempah. When you sautè the rempah, you have to do it on low-medium heat. Rush it and you’ll burn it.
Recipe: Malcolm Lee / Photo: Andy Wong, assisted by Andrew Frederic