At last, cooking and internet… chicken Malaysian style – Ayam Golek

Finally, we have a half decent internet connection. It’s still slow to load pages but we can cope now, after Unifi finally arrived to install our internet connection. For the last six weeks or so we have been trying to manage on a mobile router device, or going to sit down at the poolside, where there’s a free wifi zone.

That’s fine, you know, in fact, that is gorgeous, but as a place to try and work? Well, it was too hot in the daytime. We used to go down at night and try and catch up with things. Thing is… it took forever to upload any pictures. The other thing is that the mosquitoes caught up with me. The Bear, of course, wasn’t troubled at all but I ended up with huge, horrible bites. I suppose it says something about the tastiness of my blood….

In the end we went and bought the mobile router so we could at least sit in the apartment and use the internet.

Of course, our other problem was that the container hadn’t arrived and all of our pots and pans , cutlery and crockery, knives and tools were miles from us and weeks from delivery. I did go out and buy the bare minimum…and when I say the bare minimum, that’s what I mean. I wasn’t going to replace everything when I had boxes and boxes of kitchen stuff on its way to me, so I ended up with a chopping board; one knife for cutting and one for bread; a colander and a pan. It was fine. It worked and I kept to the simplest of dishes. I steamed fish by wrapping it in tinfoil and adding ginger and garlic, adding a few drops of water and putting it in the oven. In my pan, I cooked rice and stirred shredded coconut through it (oh, the bliss of finding fresh, shredded coconut in the local food market!) and then quickly sauteed baby kailan leaves… we ate on the balcony, sitting at the only table and chairs we had. Thank goodness for IKEA, otherwise we would have been sitting on the floor!

Eventually, after many excuses by the shipping company, we got our container and the kitchen was filled with all of my lovely things… time, I thought, for a decent meal to celebrate. I sat on the balcony at dawn and started to consider what I could cook. Isn’t that a fabulous view? I sit there every morning with my coffee and plan what I am going to do while the Bear is at work.

I had been out and bought a small Malaysian recipe book and I really wanted to try a recipe I had seen in there – Ayam Golek – chicken boiled in coconut milk and spices and then roasted in the oven so the skin crisps up beautifully.

Malaysians love chicken… there are stalls at the roadside cooking chicken and the hawker stalls at the back of most shopping areas always have a fried chicken stand.  Everywhere you go you will find chicken cooked in various ways and this recipe sounded perfect.

First, get your chicken. That was easy. I went to the local food market and picked up a chicken and all the ingredients I needed to make ayam golek.  I bought coconut milk ( it did say make it yourself from fresh coconut but there were no further instructions, so I ended up buying three cartons to make the 750ml I needed); some shallots; garlic; three stalks of lemon grass; a knob of galangal; a knob of ginger; some cumin seeds; white peppercorns and fennel seeds.

I came back and started to sort out the ingredients so I could prepare the meal ready for the Bear to get home from work…..


Oh dear. That will teach me to wear my specs when I go shopping….



What the heck was I going to do with that? There was nothing in the recipe book about chicken heads!



Nor feet! I know I had seen chicken feet for sale… but I’d  never wanted to eat them. The horrible claws… like long fingernails…oh it made me shudder.



And the neck….it just stuck out horribly and I had to hack away at it.  Just shows how sanitised everything is in the West. Our chickens come prepared  and all we have to do is start cooking. Well, I got it ready but maybe next time I will look  more carefully at what I am buying. Maybe I will wear my specs.

First of all, then, I rubbed the chicken with salt and put it to one side while I started on the rest of the recipe.


Malaysians set great store by grinding everything in a pestle and mortar, so I started off…


I peeled twelve small shallots



and then got the ginger out to start peeling that… and discovered I’d made my first mistake



Yellow ginger ISN’T ginger of an attractive hue…it’s tumeric. My fingers and nails were stained for days.



I decided that grinding the seeds and peppercorns would be easier if I did that first, so into the mortar went one teaspoon each of white peppercorns and cumin and one tablespoon of fennel seeds.


… and bashed away until I had a smooth mix. I don’t think I’m going to need a gym membership because that gives you one heck of a work out.



I’d got the other ingredients ready – the twelve shallots; three cloves of garlic; three stalks of lemon grass and the peeled ginger….and decided that I wouldn’t put that ‘yellow ginger’ in after all.


So everything else went in and I bashed away


That’s hard work, that is.. Maybe if you aren’t looking to create a truly authentic dish, you could give everything a whizz with a blender? I think I might do that next time….


Especially when this was the temperature in the kitchen. That’s our kitchen clock, which helpfully confirmed what I thought – it was hot in there.


Finally, I was ready… 750 ml of coconut milk was added to a wok…



…..and the ground spices and bashed lemongrass stalks were added and everything  was heated to a slow boil before I added the chicken and a teaspoon of salt.


I was on Easy Street now… all I had to do was simmer that chicken for thirty minutes, turning it half way through so both sides got poached. The coconut milk and spices thickened at that point and it was time to put the chicken  into a roasting dish and then into a preheated oven (175°C/350°F) for another thirty minutes……the skin crisps up and the chicken browns…



Ohhh… the smell was divine!


The chicken was moist and succulent and fell apart as I tried to serve it. Just the way it should be if it is cooked properly.

I made boiled rice and stirred a handful of fresh grated coconut through it, with a few bits of chopped coriander (or, as they call it here, Chinese Parsley. I spend lots of time in the food markets sticking my nose into things to work out what things are)

Was it worth it? Very definitely. I’d suggest that if you do it, you use a blender unless you want a real work out.  That would be so quick and easy and if you were to get the ready prepared chopped garlic, ginger and lemongrass (because not everyone has access to the fresh ingredients) no one would blame you. Be as authentic as you like or as lazy as you like, but do try making it because the flavours are delicious. The simmering in coconut milk make for the most incredibly moist and juicy chicken while the roasting crisps the outside and adds a final layer of taste to it all.

Oh… and maybe don’t buy a chicken with its head and feet…….


14 thoughts on “At last, cooking and internet… chicken Malaysian style – Ayam Golek”

  1. How I love this post! First, hooray for getting all your things. It also gives a whole new aspect to the whole chicken! We used to keep meat chickens when I was little and I am forever traumatised by my horrible big sister chasing me with chicken feet – aahhh the horror, she used to press the knuckles to make them move. So I am very glad we are sanitised here! I love how you are finding out what things are – yellow ginger, chinese parsley – brilliant. Finally that finished dish looks fantastic!

  2. Thanks Kath.. some things were “missing” which soured the experience of finally having the container here, but what a relief it was to have my kitchen stuff! I wish I had thought to keep the feet to chase the Bear with.. he still shudders at the memory of the time I made him close his eyes and hold out his hand as I gave him my heart… and dropped a pheasant heart into his hand, as I’d been preparing one for the pot! How I laughed…how he squealed…Anyway, this chicken is delicious, spare feet or not, just cook it!

  3. That looks great and it’s nice to have you back blogging, I’ve missed you. I still have my Malaysian Cookbook, maybe I should have another look at it. What lovely fresh spices, but I don’t envy you the pounding of them. I also suffered with the mossies, I ended up with huge blisters on my feet and legs – horrible. Take care.

  4. Poached and then roasted chicken sounds a great idea to me but I’m not so sure about the chicken head. At least the chicken wasn’t still walking around. Sorry to hear about all the bites – I’m always the target too. I’ve tried a lot of preventative measures but the only one that seems to work for me is to stand near someone who’s an even better target than I am.

  5. Sounds delicious! I’d be a but shocked to discover the head, neck etc! It just shows how westernised we are!

  6. Well, Janice, I have missed cooking and blogging so it is good to be back – how reliant we are on technology (and cooking equipment) but at last things are falling into place. The mosquitos are a huge problem though, leaving huge almost aubergine blotches, topped off with blisters….maybe, Phil, you could come here and they might target you, rather than me? And Selina…what I should do in the true spirit of food blogging is to get another chicken….and do something with the head!

  7. The chicken (post-cooking!) looks and sounds yummy! And do you know, I think I could probably manage to cook that too, albeit with ready-ground stuff instead of a mortar and pestle!
    Mossie bites are horrible, Mopiko is very helpful (it’s a cream you can find at lots of chemists), but if I get quite a lot of them I take an anti-histamine tablet, helps relieve the itching. You can also use hydrocostisone cream, but I only use that if I’m desperate!

  8. Wonderful post! I agree, a mortar and pestle may be traditional, but if you’ve got the technology, you should use it. Surely you can come up with a recipe for those feet…

  9. Maya… aren’t they all bone? There’s no meat on there.. or do you eat the bones too? And you lose the nails, too?
    And Lucy… my Bamix is going to be used to grind hard seed spices and whizz the rooty ones. Working in 84 degrees of heat is hard work and I have to make things a bit easier,

  10. It looks like you’re having such an adventure!
    I think your un-sanitised chicken is very thought provoking. It makes me cringe to look at but raises an interesting debate about our detached lifestyles.

  11. I suppose what I need to do *deep breath* is to try the chicken feet, as Maya suggested. We are very wasteful in the west and we should address that. We must waste millions of feet….and heads….I will try and pluck up my courage…….

  12. OMG Wendy I would’ve had a heart attack! Those nails give me the boak… and that glassy eye 😐 are you really going to try them? I’d maybe consider using it in a stock… the image of that neck bone, however, will haunt me forever.

    The chicken does look gorgeous in the end though :)

    It’s lovely to have you back on the blogisphere; you’ve been sorely missed! :)

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