This post was originally posted on April 5, 2020 and was updated on March 14, 2021.
Indonesian sweet soy chicken/ Ayam Kecap Manis
This Ayam Kecap Manis (literally means chicken in sweet soy sauce) has been my go-to Indonesian dish for years now. The chicken is succulent with sticky and slightly spicy sweet soy sauce all over it.
It’s always a hit whenever I cook it for family and friends. And it’s so easy to cook as well.
This soy chicken recipe is based on the popular Ayam Goreng Mentega which means fried chicken in butter. But I tweak the recipe so it will be easier to make but with more flavour.
In essence, the dish is just fried chicken that is covered with soy sauce. But the way we prep and pre-cook the chicken is what makes the dish delicious.
Because let’s be honest, chicken can smell, can’t it? And also, if we don’t cook it right it can either be rubbery hard or mushy soft. Plus, you want the cooked poultry to have flavour right to the bone as well, don’t you? Or, it will be like a sponge without any taste.
The key ingredients
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You only need chicken, Indonesian sweet soy sauce, onions, garlic, fresh chillies, tamarind and cooking oil.
Of all these ingredients, sweet soy sauce is the one you want to put the effort into. Please choose the Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Because the taste and flavour of Indonesian sweet soy sauce are what makes this dish very much close to authentic.
You only need about 2-3 tablespoons of Tamarind juice, or sauce if you can get the ready-made tamarind sauce.
I’ve tried several non-Indonesian sweet soy sauces in the past, they all don’t taste close enough to the kecap manis I know.
Did you know that sweet sauce is originally from Indonesia? So let’s stick to the source.
As for other ingredients, tamarind is probably the item that may not be easily available for you. If that’s the case, you can substitute it with lemon juice or lime juice.
Note: In Indonesia, the original and most traditional way to marinate chicken or fish is by using tamarind paste and salt. You can get it in the form of paste, block or sauce.
If you get tamarind paste or block, and it is a bit hard and slightly dry, you can just cut it to an equal amount of 2-3 tbsp then soak it in 3-4 tbsp of hot water. Let the tamarind get softened and release its juice. What you want is this tamarind juice and salt for a marinade.
You can also marinate the chicken with:
- Lemon/lime juice with salt.
- Ginger and garlic paste (or powder) with salt.
- Garlic powder, ground pepper (black or white), with salt.
How to make Indonesian sweet soy chicken
Rooted in my mom’s recipe, this Indonesian Ayam Kecap Manis is so easy to make. If you like a sweet and spicy flavour, then this recipe will be your next favourite stir-fry chicken.
And the following is how I make my soy chicken.
Preparing your chicken
I understand that there is a lot of advice and suggestions on how to prep your chicken. Here in the UK, we are told not to wash raw chicken to prevent the risk of food poisoning.
But, I’m so used to watching my mom washing and cleaning every meat before she cooks. What I mean with cleaning is taking off all unnecessary fat, membrane, grizzle, etc. And then wash the poultry.
I find this prepping chicken is what makes my chicken dish taste fresher and smell-less.
So, if you’re like me, you will prefer to wash your raw chicken too. Just make sure the area near the sink where you clean the chicken is clear. And make sure you clean and wipe the area with antibacterial wipes or spray when you’re done washing your chicken. Then dry it properly with a cleaned dry cloth or kitchen towel.
Marinate the chicken
Once your poultry is ready, pierce all over it with a skewer or a fork. This little trick helps the flavouring go right inside the meat. And I always do this whenever I cook chicken, meat or fish. Because I find this little step makes a huge difference in the taste.
Next, you marinate the chicken with 2-3 tablespoons of tamarind juice and one teaspoon of salt. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes. Ideally, you want to leave the marinade for at least 30 minutes.
Deep-fry the chicken
When you’re ready to make the dish, cook the chicken by either deep-frying it or steam-frying it. The latter is what I now do more often than not. For health reasons.
To steam-fry, you heat 2 tablespoons of oil on a frying pan with the lid. Then place the chicken pieces on the pan and cook at moderate heat until the poultry looks opaque. Put the pan lid on and turn the heat down. Steam the chicken for about 10-15 minutes until it’s cooked through. Set aside.
Make the sauce and put the chicken in sweet soy sauce
Heat about 4 tablespoons of oil on a large frying pan/ wok. Fry the sliced onions until lightly golden, then add in the garlic and chilli slices. Continue cooking until it releases an aroma.
Pour in the sweet soy sauce to the onion mix together with ground pepper and salt according to your taste. Cook further for about 5 minutes until all the chicken pieces absorb the sauce and they’re well-coated with the sticky sweet soy sauce.
Menu to go with Ayam Kecap Manis
One of the ideas of menu spread for this soy chicken is as follow:
- Ayam kecap (chicken in sweet soy sauce).
- Perkedel Jagung (sweetcorn fritters), or
- Perkedel Tempe (tempeh fritters).
- Gado-Gado (mixed vegetables salad with peanut sauce), or
- Cucumber and tomato salad.
- Soto Ayam – clear chicken soup – starter.
- Kolak Biji Salak (sweet potato balls in coconut milk) for dessert, or
- Agar-agar milk pudding with raspberries.
It’s an easy menu that I often do whenever I invite family or friends over.
Thank you for reading up here. Hope you are now thinking of cooking this easy to make and tasty sweet soy chicken dish. When you do, please share what you think about the recipe in the comment below so that others will know too.
And feel free to share the post and follow me on Pinterest, Facebook and/or Instagram @soyummyrecipesbydevy to sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen.
Lastly, don’t forget to check my other recipes that you may also love.
- Indonesian Beef Rendang, beef cooked in spicy coconut milk.
- Indonesian tuna fried-rice – Nasi Goreng Tuna.
- Ketoprak Jakarta – vermicelli, beansprout, and tofu salad with spicy peanut sauce.
- Chicken and sweetcorn soup.
- Ayam Penyet – crushed chicken with chillies.
- Sate Ayam – Indonesian chicken satay.
- Ayam Suwir Bumbu Bali – Balinese spicy shredded chicken.
- Sambal Goreng Terasi – Indonesian chillies with dried-shrimp paste.
All the best.