Tuesday 18 October 2011

Ayam Pongteh (Nyonya Chicken Stew)

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Peranakan or Nyonya cooking is a marriage of Chinese and Malay ingredients as well as techniques. So who are the Peranakans? Well, they are descendants of Chinese Migrants who inter-married with local Malays in mainly Penang, Malacca, Indonesia and Singapore.  Malacca is a haven for Nyonya cooking so be sure pay this town a visit when you are in Malaysia! 

Ayam(Chicken) Pongteh or Babi(Pork) Pongteh is a famous Nyoyna dish, one that's always cooked during festive occasions such as Chinese New Year, Birthdays etc. It's always a good idea to cook a big batch of this as the flavours developed even more after being kept overnight.

Recipe taken from Secrets of Nyonya Cooking by Florence Tan but I made a few changes such using a food processor to chop up the shallots and garlic as I was lazy. I would have probably taken a while day if i tried pounding them! I also drastically reduced the amount of oil required as 180ml just sounds very scary! haha The amount of light soy sauce was halved too. The following recipe is the exact one found in the cookbook, for those who are daring enough to use that much oil. :)
180ml cooking oil
30 Shallots, peeled and finely pounded 
15 cloves garlic,peeled and finely pounded
150grams soy bean paste (tau cheong)
1kg chicken,cut into bite-size pieces
10 dried chinese mushrooms, soaked in water and stemmed
1litre water
3 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons thick soy sauce
50g sugar
1 sprig coriander leaves

1) Heat cooking oil and fry pounded shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add preserved soy bean paste and saute until oil surfaces.
2) Add the chicken and mushrooms. Stir-fry until well mixed. Add water.
3) Bring to a boil and add potatoes. Season with the 2 soy sauces and sugar. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 mins until potatoes and chicken are cooked.
4) Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.


  1. This chicken stew looks really delicious! I usually need 2+ bowls of steam rice for this kind of dish. I'm much more educated about Malaysian/Singaporean dish and now I can't wait to try Nyonya cooking. Today I left a comment on fellow Malaysian blogger that I kind of start wishing to visit there rather than going back to Japan (since time is limited). I'm so curious to try the amazing food there. One day I will and I know I'll enjoy it!

  2. Sounds really delicious, this recipe is not in my book:( That is a lot of oil. 1 kg chicken may have around 100ml fat.

  3. It sounds really fabulous! If I make it with pork, would the recipe be the same?
    (The oil amount is scary, indeed! I also cut very often oil amounts in recipes)

  4. Nami: We definitely need more than 2 bowls of rice to soak up all the lovely gravy. :) Am sure you'll enjoy a trip to Malaysia so plan for it soon!
    Three cookies: No worries, just drop by to get the recipe. :)
    Sissi: Yup, the recipe will be the same but the cooking time for the pork will be a little different depending on the cut.

  5. Thank you, Sylvia, I might try this recipe very soon!

  6. This is such a homey satisfying dish!

  7. I love a good stew, especially now that the weather is getting colder. this looks like it would definitely hit the spot!

  8. Such great flavors! I love a good stew every now and then and yours looks fabulous!

  9. Sissi: I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. :)
    tigerfish: Indeed it is!
    raquel: this dish is not normally cooked with beef but am sure it'll taste good too!
    Joanne: I'll definitely cook this more often now that it's turned cold over here.
    Baker Street: Thanks for the compliments.

  10. I tried cooking this dish a few months, from the recipe provided by Shell Gas calender hanging in my kitchen wall. and I love it! but just use 3 tablespoon oil, 180ml is a bit scary :)

  11. Love this dish vey much. I had it once at one of the local nyonya restaurant in Melaka.
    Cheers, Kristy

  12. One of our favourite family dishes! Haven't made this for a while though....kind of forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder :)


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