This pong teh chicken recipe was given to my mom by one of my aunts from Malacca. The braised chicken dish is one of the most significant Peranakan dishes. Although fermented bean paste is salty, the combination of shallots and palm sugar gives the gravy a slight hint of sweetness. As it slowly cooks over low heat, the meat and potatoes absorb the flavours from the gravy making it extremely delicious.
What is pong teh and its history?
Pong teh is a braised meat dish with potatoes cooked in a gravy consisting of fermented bean paste and soy sauce. It is said that the word ‘pong’ could be a mispronunciation of the Hokkien word ‘hong’ for stewing in soy sauce while ‘teh’ could mean ‘te’ which is pig trotters in the same dialect. Since the Hokkien community commonly braise pig trotters in soy sauce, we can safely make the assumption that it is a pork dish with soy sauce.
Pong teh chicken is also a dish cooked as offering on the prayers table to ancestors during certain occasions such as death memorial or the Hungry Ghost festival Besides that, the dish is commonly eaten at any time of the year. However, maybe due to its dark colour, pong teh is not cooked for auspicious festivities such as a weddings and birthdays.
I don’t have Taucu
Taucu is fermented soy beans paste which are popular in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine. You can find this ingredient in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and even Thailand. If you are not in the region, it might be tougher to get taucu as the ingredient is not as popular as the Japanese version, miso. Therefore, you can substitute taucu with miso. While they are almost similar, miso has a smoother consistency and taucu has more intensed flavours than miso.
Pong teh pork or babi pong teh
In fact, the original dish uses pork and is known as ‘babi pong teh’, where ‘babi’ means pig in the Malay language. Substituting it with chicken, it simply becomes ’ayam pong teh’ as in the Malay language, ‘ayam’ means chicken.
Overnight pong teh chicken
I have to admit that this dish tastes even better overnight even though I do not encourage consuming such food. The potatoes taste so good after absorbing the fermented bean paste and palm sugar.
Aromatics and tofu puffs in pong teh chicken
Originally, pong teh is cooked without the extra herbs like cloves, star anise or dried bean curds. I personally love the herbs combination as it makes the dish exceptionally flavourful. As I have mentioned, the gravy of this dish is really delicious. So, when tofu puffs are added, they soaked up the gravy. You can imagine the gravy flooding your mouth as you sink your teeth into them!
How to serve pong teh chicken?
This dish is best served with white rice and sambal belacan or some freshly cut chillies in soy sauce.