Ayam Percik is marinated turmeric chicken coated with a coconut milk sauce filled with a mixture of fresh spices and then grilled. The luscious coconut sauce blankets the chicken and seeps into the meat during the grilling process resulting in a deep and rich flavour.
Originating from Kelantan, ayam percik is a traditional dish and often served along with Nasi Kerabu, a local rice dish that is also from the same state. Sometimes, we have it with Nasi Lemak too.
This Malaysian-styled grilled chicken got its name based on the way it is cooked. The Malay word for chicken is ’ayam’. ‘Percik’ brings the meaning splatter which happens when basting the chicken with the sauce while grilling.
Why This Recipe?
My recipe is so easy to prepare and uses simple ingredients. I share a few methods to expedite the grilling time which is very helpful for busy cooks. We can do this using a simple pan and the oven.
Most importantly, the sauce is so good that you would want to prepare an extra batch for another dish. I will teach you how to store and use the extra sauce.
Wait, Why Is the Gravy Not White?
There is another version whereby the sauce is white instead of red like what we have here. It is known as ’ayam percik kuah putih Kelantan’. This sauce is not spicy at all because chilli paste is not added. It is also sweeter and creamier.
To cook the version with white gravy, omit chilli paste in Step 4 and add one tablespoon of sugar to the sauce.
Is Ayam Percik Spicy?
The red ayam percik is mildly spicy because of the chilli paste in the sauce. We locals call it chilli boh. It is made by grinding dried chillies. If you are unable to handle the spiciness, reduce the heat by adding less chilli paste in Step 4. For the more adventurous eaters, add more chilli paste.
How to Grill Ayam Percik?
The best way is to grill the chicken over hot charcoal for 10 minutes on each side or until the chicken turns brown. Continue basting the sauce on the chicken while grilling and turning it back and forth.
Can I Use the Sauce With Other Meat?
Certainly! The sauce is a great staple for the next BBQ session. Chicken breast may be used for a leaner choice. By the way, I removed the chicken skin to consume less saturated fat. However, it is definitely tastier with the skin on.
Otherwise, opt for beef or even seafood. Grilled fish is mouth-watering when paired with this sauce. However, with seafood, you don’t need to steam it first since it does not take a long time to cook. Skip Step 2 in this case.
Why Is the Sauce Not Thick Or Too Diluted?
Ayam Percik sauce is best when it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Otherwise, the sauce will flow off the meat during grilling or baking. It’s important to note that the consistency of coconut milk does play a role.
If the sauce is taking too long to thicken, a simple trick is to add rice flour or all-purpose flour slurry. Mix an equal amount of flour and water. There should not be any flour chunks. Ensure that the sauce is simmering when the flour slurry is added.
To thin the sauce, add water or more coconut milk.
Steaming the chicken shorten the cooking time. Therefore, grilling or roasting will not take long. This step also helps to release excess water in the chicken without making it too dry. The chicken will remain succulent and juicy this way.
Ayam percik is always loved during a gathering. When hosting one, I like to make the sauce a day or two in advance. Freeze some sauce to be used later especially for quick meals.
Substitute for Tamarind
As a typical ingredient in the Southeast Asian cuisine, tamarind might be difficult to find. It’s used to add some sweet tanginess to the sauce.
Sometimes, tamarind peel is used instead. It’s more sour, so discard the tamarind peel immediately after turning the heat off.
If both of the ingredients aren’t available, lime or lemon juice is an option. Use 1 tablespoon as a substitute and add more if you like. I prefer the sauce to be slightly sweeter than sour, so go easy on it.