Friday, January 3, 2014

Black Pepper Chicken or Soy Sauce Chicken a la that Delicious Mamak-Style Eatery in Malaysia...

When I was a wee late-teen gal, I was sent off to Malaysia for about a couple of semester. Now it seemed like AEONS ago that that episode in my life happened... 

But I remember it distinctively.

Did I like Malaysia? Yes and no. Yes, because it's close to my country (only about... an hour and half flight away) and the food is closer to what I like to eat (nasi lemak, anyone?). No, because it's close to my country (no escaping familial duties and running away from community "gossips") and I didn't have the car then, so the commute, if I wanted to go anywhere, was... crappy.

I lived in a dorm back then. This dorm is within walking distance to the mall, super large mall called Sunway Pyramid (about 15 mins walk). But living practically next to the mall didn't mean anything (I thought it did, but no, I was wrong). The mall did have fancy stuff (it was where I first experienced kaiten-belt sushi), but the real gem was hidden just a stone throw away from my dorm. 

The place was, strangely, called Medan (maybe I spelled it wrong). What it was was a gigantic cafeteria filled with a bajillion stalls (two stories, about 8-10 stalls per story) selling 10,000 different kinds of street food from whichever ethnicity you want (OK, I exaggerated, it was from 3 different main ethnicities: Malays, Indian, and Chinese, naturally). Don't feel like eating Chinese? Well, go upstairs for Indian rojak. Don't want rojak? Next door sells nasi lemak with a bajillion accoutrements you can pick. Feeling like down home favorite? Try the duck rice or the mixed rice stall... You get the idea.

When night fell and the stalls closed, however, to me, was when the magic started. There was only one stall that opened at night and nothing else. It was in the far corner of the large dining hall/area. I never knew the name of it, but I knew that it sold one of my favorite dish ever. To this day, I still remembered the taste of the dish, even though the name escaped me.

So here's an approximation. Which can be turned to buffet-place-style black pepper chicken.

Soy Sauce Chicken

Figure 1. Soy sauce chicken with onion and jalapenos

3 chicken breast (2 lbs.), cubed about half an inch to 3/4 of an inch
Half of large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced (or if you feel brave, 3 jalapenos, halved then sliced)
3-4 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3-5 tbs sugar
Corn starch for dusting
Oil for deep frying and sauteing
Salt/pepper to taste

1. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper to chicken. Mix well.
2. Dust chicken with corn starch.
3. Deep fry chicken until "skin" form. The chicken won't turn golden brown or anything, but you'll see a nice light sandy brown "char".
4. Drain chicken on paper towel to absorb most of the oil.
5. Heat 1 tbs or so of oil on the wok on high heat.
6. Saute green pepper and onion for about a minute or so.
7. Add chicken, soy sauce, and about 3 tbs of sugar, toss to coat evenly.
8. Adjust taste with salt and sugar.
9. Add black pepper (to taste), toss to coat evenly.

1. The soy sauce will give the nice golden brown finish to the dish. Don't add too much, this is a relatively "dry" dish.
2. You can coat the chicken in breading (as in flour and not corn starch). The Chinese buffet usually have the chicken coated in flour and deep fried. I don't like the too-much oil version of Chinese buffet places.
3. To make the Malaysian version, just stop at step 8. 
4. This version is a bit wetter than the Chinese buffet version, don't be surprised.
5. If you don't want to coat the chicken, just cook the chicken ahead of time (as in cook it separately from the pepper/onion).
6. I remember the Malaysian version had a  wee bit of sauce, so you can add more soy sauce if you truly want the authentic experience.

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