"Hey, how to make ayam masak merah?", my dear friend; Yan from Melbourne enquired. I had a chance today to cook and note the proportions I use for my ayam-masak-merah recipe. It isn't exactly the Ayam-Masak-Merah Malay Kampung style, but it is my version of it, which taste almost identical. I use ingredients which I have ready in my pantry and try to improvise when it comes to herbs which are hard to buy here in Sydney. For those who are confused with the term "Ayam-masak-merah" I've been going on about; it is a dish from Malaysia originating from the Malay people which if directly translated; would mean red cooked chicken. Ayam=chicken, Masak= cook, Merah= red. The bright red colour comes from the tomatoe paste and ground chilies, it is fairly spicy. It may look like just another curry, but its taste is in fact very different from Indian curries. The broth is discretely sweetened with sugar and carries a tinge of sour from the tomatoes.
Here is the recipe, enough to serve 4;
2 inch cube ginger peeled and diced
3 large red chilies
3 shallot bulbs
2 large red onions sliced into thin rings
5 pieces skinless chicken thighs sliced. (marinade in salt, cornflour and tumeric powder, set aside for at least 30 minutes)
1 cinnamon stick; broken into half
1 stalk lemon grass chopped lengthwise
4 dried chilies
2 tbsp chili paste/sauce or ketchup (if u don't like it too spicy)
Pound or grind first 4 ingredients. Fry chicken in a wok under high heat in corn/vegetable oil, until they corners turn brown and crisp. Remove and set aside. Remove some oil from the wok and add in onions and last 5 ingredients. Stirfry till fragrant. Add in ground tomatoe paste and fried chicken, and stirfry to coat. Season with salt and sugar.
Serve with spiced rice/toasted sesame seeds/chopped green shallot leaves.
Top with fried bull's eye egg! YUM!
This version of Ayam masak merah really has my own personal Chinese flair to it, but it does taste like the Malay ayam masak merah we get back home. The sesame seeds and shallots leaves are a bit of an oriental touch, but hey; this is afterall the best thing about being Malaysian; it's a multicultural society!
Edit: For breakfast this morning, I made Roti canai to have with the leftover ayam masak merah from yesterday. It turned out better than i expected it to, but the recipe definately needs more research and personal alterations. It dissapoints me everytime I try a recipe online and it doesn't turn out well (I guess the comment my lecturer made about sources online being not too dependable applies here for recipes as well). Anyway, I'll probably make a few changes and try it again next week; this time with margarine or ghee instead of just using spread, that is probably another reason why it didn't have that Mamak roti 'kick'. Not bad for a first time though. My dear Amrit loves Malaysian food and she enjoyed it :).