Sunday, January 11, 2004

Ayam Sereh a.k.a lemongrass chicken

It's not lemon and it's not grass.. So why people call it lemongrass anyway.

Cooking this meal for the very first time in a small, around-the-corner Sydney diner, I found it amazing that I forgot all about this until one of my never-met friend mention it several days ago and ask me the recipe. I have to recall all my memory to cook this chicken.. And the weirdest thing is.. I can't remember how it taste (sure it taste like chicken.. IT IS CHICKEN!), because I used to cook in that diner and before that I came to the diner to eat Ayam Kecap (chicken with sweet soy sauce), not this Ayam sereh. But anyway, I try my best to re-produce the aroma and fragrance of the dish.

I start with chicken and lemongrass.. Mate, they don't sell small bunch of lemongrass in Carrefour!! So I , against my will, have to buy a big bunch, distributor size packet of lemongrass.. Please.. I only need four stalks (five the most) for my chicken.. I only got about 1 Kg chicken... Please...

Then it goes the chilli. Big, red, shiny chilli. It's not that big, round, salad thingy.. It's the finger size red hot chilli.. Then garlic and shallot.. I ground the chilli (5 of them) with 3 clove garlic, 3 pcs shallot and four (like I said!) white part of lemongrass stalks using mortar and pretzel (I mean pestle :). Salt and spoonful of sugar added.

Meanwhile the chicken was cut, marinated in heavy, yellow, turmeric based mixture then deep fried.

Then I saute a handful of chopped onion and the chilli-lemongrass paste with small amount of oil. Then I add that smelly-but-amazing "terasi" (my precioussss....). A pinch of it is all that matters. Then.. (drumroll please..) here comes the fragrance I've been waiting for! And all the memory comes along... knock me off my head.. I remember the taste and the looks, the sight and sound of this fantastic meal!!! I know I have to add a spoonful of dark, thick, sweet soy sauce.. and a splash of water. And when my magic potion start to sizzle, here comes the fried chicken..

Sweet, hot, crusty and zesty chicken meal.. with all the memory it posses.. once again, re-born in my lunch table today..

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