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 dish. Although fermented bean paste is salty, the combination of sweetness from shallots and palm sugar makes the dish one of its kind. As it slowly cooks over low heat, the meat and potato absorb the flavours in the gravy. That makes the pong teh dish extremely special.
Pong teh is a braised meat dish with potatoes and a fermented bean paste based gravy with 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 Hokkien too. Since the Hokkien community commonly braise pig trotters in soy sauce, we can safely make the assumption that it is a soy sauce dish with pork.
Pong teh chicken is also a dish cooked as offerings at the prayers table to ancestors during certain celebrations such as death celebrations or Hungry Ghost festivalIn fact, the original dish uses pork and it is known as ‘babi pongteh’. Having said that, the dish is commonly eaten as a day to day meal. Maybe due to its dark colour, pong teh is not cooked for auspicious festivities such as a weddings and birthdays.
In fact, the original dish uses pork and it is known as ‘babi pong teh’, where ‘babi’ means pig in Malay. As for a pong teh dish using chicken, it is simply known as ’ayam pong teh’ since ‘ayam’ means chicken in Malay.
I have to admit that this dish tastes even better overnight even though I do not like to consume overnight food. The potatoes taste so good after absorbing the fermented bean paste and palm sugar.
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. When tofu puffs are added to it, they soaked up the gravy. You can imagine the gravy flooding your mouth as you sink your teeth into them!
This dish is best served with white rice and some freshly cut chillies in soy sauce or sambal belacan.
Pong Teh Chicken is also known as: Braised Chicken with Fermented Bean Paste and Potatoes
Mince garlic and shallots. Then, heat pan with oil to saute garlic and shallots over medium heat until fragrant.
Add fermented bean paste, soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Mix well and add chicken meat. Then, add water to cover the chicken meat. Allow dish to cook over high heat until it boils.
Cut potatoes into bite pieces. Add the potatoes, tofu puffs, cinnamon stick, star anise and palm sugar into the pan. Stir from time to time. Once dish boils again, reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes until gravy thickens. Serve hot with white rice.