ayam siyow – stewed chicken in thick tamarind sauce

For me, cooking is very much a going-with-the-flow kind of thing.

Most days, I cook what I feel like eating. Other days, it’s what’s in my fridge that dictates what gets served for dinner.

Today, it was the cooking method that inspired me.

I wanted to pound on something. I woke up with the need to “TOMBOK” (pound) something! Really, I am not a violent person. I just like the nostalgic feelings the mortar and pestle evokes.

To cook something that requires pounding meant looking into my Peranakan guide – since most Peranakan dishes involve tombok-ing.

This dish is really simple to make. REALLY!!

To start, I peeled and cut some shallots into smaller pieces.

Then I bashed them up in a mortar and pestle. You can always use a blender if you wish.

I prefer a little texture in my food, so I did not totally grind the shallots into nothing-ness.

I toasted some coriander powder in a skillet – this took a minute. DO NOT walk away!

And combined this with dark soy sauce, shallots, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl.

This was placed in a bowl with the chicken.

Along with the water from soaking the tamarind.

Everything was mixed, and the chicken was placed in the fridge, covered, to marinate for several hours.

When I was ready to cook, the chicken and all the liquid was placed in a casserole, and the chicken was cooked, covered, on medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken was cooked through and had become tender. I gave the chicken a stir occasionally.

Then the chicken was removed, and the gravy was left to thicken in the pot.

I deep fried the chicken until they turned golden brown and drained them on kitchen towels. I guess you can always choose to skip this step if you do not want your chicken to be a little crispy.

Alternatively, you can also shallow fry the chicken using 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Or, as a reader suggested, you can roast the chicken in an oven too! (Thanks, Michelle Quah for the suggestion!) And another suggested to air fry the chicken, which is also a great idea! (Thanks, Audrey Sim 🙂 )

Finally, just before serving, I added the gravy to the chicken and garnished the dish with some chopped spring onion.

The LAM said this tasted a little like Chicken Rendang, but sweeter (because of the shallots).

Well, this is a whole lot easier to cook than Chicken Rendang!!

Yep, I shall be cooking this again!

Ayam Siyo
Serves 4
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  1. 1 chicken (about 1.5kg), cut into serving pieces
For the Marinade
  1. 2 tablespoons tamarind, mixed with 450ml water
  2. 10 shallots, ground
  3. 1 tablespoon coriander powder, toasted
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  6. 1/2 tablespoon vinegar - I used rice wine vinegar
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 teaspoon pepper - I used ground white pepper
For the Garnish
  1. 1 sprig spring onion, chopped
  1. Marinate the chicken pieces for several hours.
  2. Place the chicken and liquid in a casserole and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, on medium heat, until chicken is cooked through and tender.
  3. Remove the chicken and set aside. Allow the gravy to continue to simmer (uncovered) until it thickens.
  4. In a skillet, fry the chicken pieces in a little oil, or deep fry them until golden brown. This step is optional.
  5. Add the thickened gravy to the chicken, garnish with chopped spring onions and serve immediately.
Adapted from Irene's Peranakan Recipes
Adapted from Irene's Peranakan Recipes
The Domestic Goddess Wannabe https://thedomesticgoddesswannabe.com/

I am submitting this recipe for Cook-Your-Books hosted by Kitchen Flavours.