Chantal actually came up with this one and it’s based on Dutch TV-chef Rudolph van Veen’s recipe she found on 24Kitchen. Its Dutch title can be loosely translated as ‘Velvety Kecap Chicken with Noodles’.One of the reasons to try the recipe was that the chicken is being poached and not stir-fried so it should stay super succulent. The other reason was the sauce that resembles a warm version of a delicious (and fiery) dipping sauce we encountered many times when on holidays in Bali: Kecap Manis mixed with chopped shallots and bird’s-eye chilies.
Maybe some explanation is needed on Kecap Manis (or Ketjap Manis as we call it here in the Netherlands): it is a staple in the Indonesian cuisine: a sweet and slightly thickened soy sauce also used for marinades (satay!) or just as a “finishing touch” condiment. It is made from a fermented paste of boiled black soybeans, roasted grain, salt, water, plenty of palm sugar and a host of spices like star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, lemongrass, and cloves. It gives a nice sweet/spicy umami kick to Indonesian dishes like nasi goreng or bami goreng.
Kecap Manis is widely available here, but I must say that the ones we took home from Bali last year were much more syrupy than the ones we usually find here in the Netherlands. If you can’t find it: there are plenty of recipes on the web so you can make a straightforward substitute at home by mixing light soy sauce and brown sugar or palm sugar and bring it to a boil to start a caramelization of the soy sauce.
What worked and what didn’t?
The result was fabulous! Tender slices of chicken coated in a yummy, thick, sweet and spicy sauce (one red chili pepper was enough for us) with crispy vegetables. The udon noodles we used needed to be drained and cooled, so we added them back to the wok with the vegetables to reheat for a minute or so. In our case, the vegetables and noodles were mixed instead of separate layers.
I recommend serving the chicken with a slotted spoon in order not to include too much sauce as it can be somewhat overpowering. The sauce should coat the chicken and serving an extra 2-3 tablespoons of sauce per person would be plenty.
The recipe was easy to follow (you can also just follow the video ;-)) and the timing was accurate and serves 4 persons.
Verdict: 9/10; definitely worth making again
- 1 lt / 4 cups of chicken stock
- 2-3 chicken fillets (about 450g / 1 lb)
- 3 gloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 red chili pepper, halved and finely sliced
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (divided)
- 150ml / 2/3 cup Kecap Manis
- 1 tbsp cornstarch (maïzena)
- 300g 10 oz dried noodles (I used thick udon noodles)
- 250g / 8 oz mangetouts (peultjes) sliced lengthwise in 3-4 ribbons
- 100g / 3 oz Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 1/2 bunch of spring onion, sliced on the diagonal
- 100g / 3oz beansprouts (taugé)
- Bring the chicken stock just under a boil and poach the chicken fillets for about 14-16 minutes depending on the size of the fillets. Remove the chicken from the stock and cool slightly on a plate before slicing the chicken – on the diagonal – into 1cm 1/4 inch slides.
- Cook the noodles based on its instructions on the packet (I recommend to boil them into in the chicken stock for extra flavour).
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a sauce pan and gently fry the garlic and red pepper for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the Kecap Manis and bring to a boil.
- Mix the cornstarch with 1 tbsp cold water until smooth and stir through the kecap sauce and bring back to a simmer for about 1 minutes. Take the pan from the heat and mix in the chicken and let it marinate for about 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken quite a bit.
- In the meantime, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a wok and stir fry the shiitake mushrooms for about 4 minutes. Then add the mangetouts and beansprouts and fry for another 2 minutes.
- Serve the noodles with the stir fried vegetables on top, spoon over the chicken and finish with the spring onions.