Kaffir lime leaf is an ingredient that is used extensively in Peranakan, Indonesian and Thai cusine. It has a unique citrus aroma that I think lime or lemon cannot quite substitute. Thanks to my parents who planted a kaffir lime plant in the garden, I have all the leaves I need to cook Tom Yam and a whole lot more as demostrated by our Indonesian domestic help, Yulia.
Yulia taught me how to cook this tasty chicken dish which has since become a family favourite. I am not sure if its an innovation of her own or a traditional Indonesian dish as Yulia speaks limited English while I do not know a word of Bahasa Indonesian other than food names. Yulia's chicken recipe is similar to the Peranakan dish Ayam Tempra (chicken cooked in soya sauce and lime juice) but it tastes a lot more complex with the richness of the candle nut, the sweetness of kecap manis and the wonderful fragrance of kaffir lime leaves.
Yulia's Kaffir Lime Leaf Chicken
2 pieces boneless chicken thigh, about 300g cut into bite size pieces (chicken pieces and chicken breast can also be used)
2 tbps kecap manis
4 kaffir lime leaves (1 double leaf is counted as 2 separate leaves)
1 tbsp oil
salt and sugar to taste
Rempah (pounded spices):
3 candle nuts (buah keras)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 cm ginger
5 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red chilli, peeled and roughly chopped
Prepare the rempah by pounding/ blending the rempah ingredients.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan or wok. Stir fry the rempah and the kaffir lime leaves until fragrant.
Add chicken to the rempah and let the chicken brown slightly. Add kecap manis. Allow to caramelize, add a splash of water and cook until the chicken is tender. Add salt and sugar to taste.