Salt-baked chicken in a wok

Salt-baked chicken in a wok

Ayam bakar garam

By
From
Street Food Asia
Serves
4 – 6 as part of a shared meal
Photographer
Alan Benson

My good foodie mate Evelyn, who lives in KL, takes me out for an evening of gorging at SS2 Market in Petaling Jaya, the best night market in town. It’s only open on Monday night and she reckons I’ll be so full by the time we finish, she’ll be rolling me home. She’s not wrong because, as if SS2 isn’t enough, there’s a nearby food street called Wai Sek Kai and it’s heaving as well. There are food stalls in every direction and so many different dishes it’s all a bit overwhelming. Right when I think I can’t possibly cram another mouthful in, we spot a wok-full of intriguing parcels that turn out to be this dish. The chicken smells so good we can’t resist. Sealed in baking paper (with seasonings Evelyn tells me are strictly Top Secret), then baked in layers of salt inside big, covered woks, it’s similar in principal to the classic clay-baked beggar’s chicken. Except much simpler to make. The salt keeps all the moisture in the meat and accentuates the flavours brilliantly. This is an easy dish to recreate at home and I hope you try it.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
600g chicken maryland pieces or drumsticks, cleaned and patted dry
400g rock salt

Spice rub

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Soy & chilli dipping sauce

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced

Method

  1. Put all the spice rub ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Cover the chicken pieces generously with the spice rub, then tightly wrap the pieces separately in baking paper to form parcels. Set aside.
  2. Line the bottom of a large wok with a sheet of aluminium foil. Add half the rock salt to the wok and pour over 125 ml water, then place the chicken parcels, fold side down, on top and cover with the remaining rock salt.
  3. Place the wok over a high heat, cover with a lid and cook for 6 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for a further 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken to rest inside the wok, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  5. To serve, remove the wrapped chicken from the wok, cut open the baking paper with kitchen scissors and chop each maryland into 4 pieces through the bone with a cleaver. Serve with the soy and chilli dipping sauce.
Tags:
South-East Asian
Asian
Street Food
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