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Indonesian sweet soy sauce chicken aka Ayam Kecap Manis
This Ayam Kecap Manis (literally means chicken in sweet soy sauce) has been my go-to Indonesian dish for years now. The chicken is succulent with a sticky and slightly spicy sweet soy sauce all over it.
It’s always a hit whenever I cook it for family and friends. And it’s so easy to cook as well.
This soy chicken recipe is based on the popular Ayam Goreng Mentega (fried chicken in butter) which is an Indonesian take on Chinese chicken soy sauce.
In essence, the dish is just fried chicken that is covered with sticky sauce. The Chinese version uses soy sauce mixed with either honey or brown sugar.
This Indonesian version uses the Indonesian kecap manis, which is a sauce that tastes sweet and has a thick and sticky consistency. So you don’t need any sweetener such as honey or sugar anymore.
In this recipe, I’m sharing with you a more simplified recipe that doesn’t require many ingredients.
The key ingredients
You only need chicken, Indonesian sweet soy sauce/ kecap manis, onions, garlic, fresh chilies, tamarind, and cooking oil.
When it comes to the chicken, you can use whole chicken with bone, or boneless chicken. Just make sure you cut the poultry into small pieces.
I use boneless chicken thighs more often than not. Because my kids don’t like the bone-in chicken. Besides it takes slightly longer to cook it than the boneless one. And if you like chicken breast, make sure you don’t overcook it. Otherwise, it will go dry like cardboard.
As for tamarind, it is probably the item that may not be easily available for you. If that’s the case, you can substitute it with lemon juice or lime juice.
Note: In Indonesia, the original and most traditional way to marinate chicken or fish is by using tamarind paste and salt. You can get it in the form of paste, block, or sauce.
If you get tamarind paste or block, and it is a bit hard and slightly dry, you can just cut it to an equal amount of 2-3 tbsp then soak it in 3-4 tbsp of hot water. Let the tamarind get softened and release its juice. What you want is this tamarind juice and salt for a marinade.
You can also marinate the poultry with lemon/lime juice with salt, ginger garlic paste (or powder) with salt, a mix of garlic powder, and ground pepper (black or white), with salt.
Alternatives for the sauce
If you can not get Indonesian sweet soy sauce, you can try to substitute it with a mix of dark soy sauce with either honey or dark brown sugar.
For this recipe, you can use ¼ cup/ 60 ml of dark soy sauce with 2 tablespoons of honey of dark soft brown sugar.
How to make Indonesian sweet soy chicken
Rooted in my mom’s recipe, this Indonesian Ayam Kecap is so easy to make. If you like a sweet and spicy flavor, then this recipe will be your next favorite stir-fry dish.
And the following is how I make it.
Prepare the chicken and pierce all over it with a skewer or a fork. This little trick helps the flavoring go right inside the meat. And I always do this whenever I cook chicken, meat or fish. Because I find this little step makes a huge difference in the taste.
Next, add 2-3 tablespoons of tamarind juice and one teaspoon of salt to the poultry, and toss well. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
2. Fry the chicken
When you’re ready to make the dish, cook the chicken by either deep-frying it or steam-frying it. The latter is what I now do more often than not.
To steam-fry, you heat 2 tablespoons of oil on a frying pan with the lid. Then place the chicken pieces on the pan and cook at moderate heat until the poultry looks opaque. Cover the pan and lower the heat. Let the chicken cook for about 10-15 minutes until it’s cooked through. Set aside.
3. Make the sauce
Heat the oil on a large frying pan/ wok. Fry the sliced onions until lightly golden, then add in the garlic and chili slices. Continue cooking until it releases an aroma.
Pour the sauce into the onion followed by ground pepper and salt. Cook further for about 5 minutes until all the chicken pieces absorb the sauce and they’re well-coated with the sticky sauce.
What to serve the chicken with
This ayam kecap is best served with steamed white rice and enjoyed along with Perkedel Jagung (sweetcorn fritters), Perkedel Tempe (tempeh fritters), Gado-Gado (mixed vegetable salad with peanut sauce), and Soto Ayam – clear chicken soup.
More Indonesian chicken recipes
If you need more ideas for delicious Indonesian chicken recipes, you can try Ayam Penyet – crushed chicken with chilies, Sate Ayam – chicken satay, Ayam Rica Rica: Indonesian Manadonese Spicy Chicken, Kari Ayam (chicken curry, or Ayam Goreng Bumbu (spicy fried chicken),
Thank you for checking this sweet soy sauce chicken recipe. Hope you will try it. When you do, please share what you think about the recipe in the comment below. I really appreciate it.
Take care and all the best.
The Best Indonesian Sweet Soy Chicken – Ayam Kecap
- Mixing bowls.
- Large frying pan
- Slotted spoon
- 1 ¾ pounds chicken. Boneless or with bones. Cut in pieces.
- 3 tablespoons tamarind juice
- 1 teaspoon salt for the marinade.
- 2 onion medium size. Sliced
- 2 cloves garlic Finely sliced
- 2 red or green chilli Sliced diagonally
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1/3 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce see the note.
- Cooking oil.
- Marinade the chicken with tamarind juice and salt. Pierce the meat by using a skewer or fork. Set aside and leave it to rest for about half an hour.
- When you’re ready to cook, heat the oil on a wok or frying pan. And start deep-frying or steam-frying the chicken. For the latter one, you heat two tablespoons of oil on a frying pan and fry the chicken pieces until they turn opaque. Then turn the heat down and put the lid on the pan to steam-cook the poultry.
- If you use boneless chicken, it will normally take about 12-15 minutes to deep-fry. If you use chicken with bone, it may take slightly longer. Around 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
- Then, fry the onions in a pan with 4-5 tablespoons of cooking oil until it’s light golden in colour. Add in the sliced garlic and chillies. Continue to fry for about 3 minutes before you put the sweet soy sauce, black pepper and salt in.
- Cook further about 3-5 minutes until you see the sauce bubbling. Lastly, add in the fried chicken. Stir until all the meat coated with soy sauce. Let it cook and simmer for about 3 minutes before you turn the heat off.
- I normally multi-task things to save time. So, I would prepare the chicken first. When I start frying it, I will then get the sauce ready. Usually, the fried chicken will be ready at the same time the soy sauce is ready.
- If you can not get Kecap Manis, you can mix ¼ cup of dark soy sauce and 3 tablespoons of honey or dark soft brown sugar/ dark muscovado sugar.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.