Monday, January 11, 2010

Ayam Sioh (Chicken with Tamarind and Coriander)

Ask any local Malaysian what is Ayam Sioh and they'll probably tell you that it is a Nyonya dish. And how true it is! Ayam Sioh also known as Chicken with Tamarind and Coriander can be found on the menu in almost all nyonya restaurants. Nyonya food is actually a blend of traditional ingredients of Chinese food and Malay spices and herbs, Nyonya cuisine is eclectically seasoned and different than either Chinese or Malay food. It is fusion cuisine at it's best! As in Malay cooking, a key ingredient in Nyonya cuisine is belacan [or dried shrimp paste]. Nyonya cooking is not only about the blending of pungent roots but also the long marinating of meats and seafood before it is cooked. Fresh herbs such as lemongrass, lengkuas [galangal or wild ginger] and kunyit [turmeric root] are pounded, more often than not, by hand using a granite mortar & pestle. Chilies, candlenuts, shallots and belacan are a must in most Nyonya dishes.

When I was very young my grandmother would cook a variation of this dish using duck for Chinese New Year. If you are using duck, the dish would then be called Itik Sioh. In fact the original dish uses duck rather than chicken. But nowadays, most families would prefer to use chicken rather than duck due to hassle of prepping the duck and also a less gamey taste to the dish. In short, some people really do not fancy duck at all! Because of the amount of tamarind in the recipe, this dish is usually kept at room temperature for days. There is no need to refrigerate the left overs. The longer this dish is kept, the tastier it gets. I used to lick all the thick gravy from each piece of chicken bone simply because it tasted so good!

Ayam Sioh (Chicken with Tamarind and Coriander)
(serves 4 - 6)
Recipe from Traditional Malaysian Cuisine


1 large chicken - cut into 4 pieces
10 shallots - pounded finely
1 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp thick soy sauce
1 Tbsp salt
10 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp coriander powder - roasted
250g tamarind - mixed with 1 cup of water and strained
2 Tbsp salt dissolved in water


1) Combine coriander powder, sugar salt, soy sauce, pepper and shallots with the tamarind juice and stir well.

2) Wash the chicken in the salt water and remove the chicken. Add the chicken to the ingredients in (1). Leave chicken to marinade overnight in the refrigerator.

3) Boil the chicken in the marinade for 20 minutes over medium heat.

4) Turn the chicken over, reduce heat and boil for another 20 minutes.

5) Remove and serve warm with white rice.


Edith said...

Sedap! drooling all over now.

noobcook said...

it looks fab! the chicken sounds deliciously tangy and fragrant

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

AMAZING! Look at that! Jo, you're a fantastic cook (and photographer too)!

pigpigscorner said...

oh gosh...I'm craving for this dish again! This is one of my favourite recipes, I cook this very often! I have to try this with duck next time.

Unknown said...

I love to use tamarind in my meat stews. This is often my 'secret' ingredient. I really must try this it looks delicious

Anonymous said...

Sounds so good! I like the flavor combination here!

Kana said...

I am so bookmarking this recipe!!!!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Wah, just see the pictures,also make me drooling, if I will taste it, pengsan lo, hehehe...Thanks for sharing.

Zurin said...

Wow that looks delicious. n so do the bowls at the pretty

Pei-Lin said...

Oh, yumm!! This is one of my fave Nyonya dishes!! Yours is making me salivate ... T_T


Anonymous said...

I love Ayam sioh but haven't found a good recipe.. Must try yours because it looks so good!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comment Jo. Your blog is amazing, I've already bookmarked a few of your recipes to make. They all look so good.

Lucky you living in K.L, mm I miss street food.

Kris Ngoei said...

This is another reason why I love Malaysian food......

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Lou said...

This looks delicious Jo! Now that I'm onto Tamarind I'm keen to try new ways of using it!

Thip said...

Hi Jo, I'll have to try this recipe. :) said...


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