Recipe courtesy of Karen Akunowicz

Indonesian Fried Chicken

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 25 min
  • Active: 55 min
  • Yield: 2 large or 4 small servings
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Canola oil, for frying

1/3 cup lemongrass paste

2 teaspoons minced Thai bird chiles

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 cup coconut milk

One 3-pound chicken, backbone removed, cut into 4 breast pieces and 2 legs

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1/4 cup Asian fish sauce

1 lime, juiced

Waffles, recipe follows

Honey Sesame Butter, recipe follows

Surprising Sauce, recipe follows


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

6 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

4 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger

1/4 cup black and white sesame seeds

Nonstick cooking spray

Surprising Sauce:

1 cup packed dried red chiles

1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger

1/4 cup Asian fish sauce

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup fresh Thai basil

Honey Sesame Butter:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoons sesame oil


Special equipment:
a deep fryer
  1. Preheat a deep fryer filled with canola oil to 375 degrees F. Set up a steamer that can fit the chicken.
  2. Stir together the lemongrass paste, Thai bird chilies and turmeric in a small bowl. Set aside. Put the coconut milk in a medium bowl.
  3. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and fish sauce. Rub the lemongrass spice paste evenly over each piece. Submerge the chicken in the coconut milk for 5 minutes. Transfer to the steamer and sprinkle with the lime juice. Steam until cooked through and no trace of pink remains, about 22 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the deep fryer and cook until crispy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Divide the waffles among plates. Top with the Honey Sesame Butter and allow it to start melting. Top with some of the chicken and drizzle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Surprising Sauce, depending on desired spice level.


Yield: 2 large or 4 small servings
  1. Preheat a waffle iron. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F to keep the waffles warm.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, butter and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the ginger and sesame seeds.
  3. Spray the preheated waffle iron with nonstick spray. Pour the appropriate amount of batter onto each waffle compartment and cook until the waffle is cooked through and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the waffle iron. Transfer to the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. 

Surprising Sauce:

Yield: about 1 quart
  1. Remove the stems from the dried chiles, break the chiles in half and remove the seeds. Place the chiles in a small pot with the garlic and ginger and cover with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chiles have softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process with the fish sauce and sugar until a coarse paste forms. Add the vinegar and process again. When the sauce is thick and textured (do not puree), add the Thai basil and pulse. 

Honey Sesame Butter:

Yield: 1/2 cup
  1. Place the butter in a food processor and process until fluffy. Add the honey and sesame oil and mix until evenly dispersed. 
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