How to make Ayam Penyet, or Indonesian Smashed Chicken, a popular fried chicken rice dish served with a spicy sambal.
Ayam Penyet is an Indonesian rice dish with crispy fried chicken served with a spicy sambal sauce. In the diverse world of Indonesian cuisine, Ayam Penyet stands out as a beloved dish known for its bold flavours and unique preparation. It’s an all-win: crispy fried chicken and spicy bold sambal combination is irresistible!
This popular dish, which translates to “smashed chicken” in English, is well-loved in Singapore and Malaysia for its delicious combination of flavours and textures… So much so that we’ve adopted this as part of our cuisine here! Walk to any hawker centre in Singapore, and you can be sure to find a stall selling Ayam Penyet.
‘Penyet’ means “smashed”, usually the chicken is smashed with mortar and pestle to break apart the soft meat inside for easier eating. This will also allow that delicious sambal distribute into all that chicken meat.
What sets Ayam Penyet apart is its unique preparation method. The chicken is marinated with a mixture of herbs and spices, which can vary from region to region, before being deep-fried until it’s crispy on the outside. Once the chicken is cooked, it is taken out of the oil and immediately “smashed” using a mortar and pestle, or sometimes even a wooden mallet. This step is essential as it helps to tenderise the chicken and allows the flavours to penetrate the meat. I didn’t include this step in this recipe, but you can do that if you like!
The Spice Factor
One of the standout elements of Ayam Penyet is its spicy sambal (chili paste). Indonesians love their food spicy, and Ayam Penyet is no exception. My sambal is simple but effectively spicy, made using a blend of chilies, garlic and shallots. To level it up, you can also add:
- Belacan or Terasi (fermented shrimp paste): This adds a briny saltiness and umami to the sambal.
- Lime Juice: A fresh squeeze of this will add a nice tang to balance out the flavours of the sambal.
- Chicken Stock Powder: A pinch of this will enhance the flavours of the sambal.
It adds a fiery kick to the dish and complements the crispy chicken beautifully.
Ayam Penyet is typically served with a side of freshly steamed rice, fried tofu and tempeh, cucumbers, and a generous portion of the sambal. The cool and refreshing cucumbers, and the mild-tasting tofu, provide a delightful contrast to the fiery sambal, creating a well-balanced meal that satisfies both your taste buds and your appetite.
Watch How to Make Ayam Penyet
Ayam Penyet | Crispy Fried Chicken with Spicy SambalCourse: Dinner, Eats, Recipes
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3-4 slices galangal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 litre chicken stock
Bay Leaves (optional)
500ml or enough vegetable oil for deep frying
200ml chicken stock (poaching liquid from cooking the chicken)
1/2 cup or 115g rice flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp white pepper
1 firm tofu sliced
4 slices tempeh (I did not include this)
10 red chillies
10 cili padi
1/4 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 tsps sugar (or to taste)
2 tsps salt (or to taste)
- Serve With:
- The Fried Chicken:
- To make the marinade, blend shallots, garlic, galangal, turmeric powder, salt and sugar in a blender or food processor until a smooth paste forms. Combine the marinade to the chicken pieces and massage to coat. Option to marinade overnight.
- Transfer the marinated chicken to a pot, and pour in 1 litre of chicken stock. Add optional bay leaves. Turn the heat to a medium-high and allow the pot to come to a rolling boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to a simmer. Allow the chicken to finish cooking in the stock for about 15 minutes. Once chicken is cooked, turn off the heat and remove chicken from the stock.
- Meanwhile, prepare batter. To a bowl, add the rice flour, egg, sugar, salt and pepper. Scoop out 200ml of the chicken poaching liquid to the bowl. Stir to create a liquid batter. Coat the cooked chicken in the batter. and deep fry in oil. Take it off once its crispy and golden brown.
- Add enough oil to deep fry in a pot. Turn the heat to a medium and allow the oil to get hot. To test if the oil is ready, dip a wooden chopstick in the oil, If bubbles emerge, oil is hot enough for frying.
- Add battered chicken to the pot and fry until crispy and golden. Once it’s crisp, immediately remove from the oil. This should only take about 4-5 minutes; the chicken is already cooked, so we are only achieving that crispy exterior.
- Tofu and Tempeh
- Cut tofu and tempeh to equal sizes. Dip the tofu and tempeh in the same batter as well. Deep fry until crispy and golden too. Remove from oil.
- To make crispies, or the fried batter bits, dip a spoon into the batter and carefully drizzle into the hot oil. With a spatula or a pair of chopsticks, move the batter about in the oil so they don’t stick as one. Once the batter crisps up and turn golden, use strainers to remove from the oil.
- To make the sambal, first roughly chop the chillies, onion and garlic.
- Add oil to a pan (you can use the same oil from deep frying the chicken), and heat over low-medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped ingredients and gently stir fry to cook. Remove once fragrant.
- Add the cooked ingredients to a mortar or pestle and season with salt and sugar. Pound until you get a coarse sambal sauce. Sambal is ready! Alternatively, add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse.
- To Serve
- To serve, smash the fried chicken with a pestle until the flesh splits. You can also use the back of the knife for this.
- Assemble rice on a plate. Place the smashed chicken over the rice. Spoon on the sambal. Arrange the deep fried tofu and tempeh, and sliced cucumbers on the side. Serve!