Belacan is to Malaysian cuisine is what fish sauce is to Thai and Vietnamese cooking.
It is no doubt pungent, but it adds amazing flavours, taste structure and that unique je ne sais quoi to local food.
Here is a fried chicken recipe that uses belacan to enhance the flavour and enjoyment of this usually bland meat.
- 6 small chicken drumsticks
- 1 tablespoon coriander stem juice
- 1 tablespoon belacan
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Rinse the chicken with water, pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
- Prepare the coriander juice by cutting off the bottom 5 cm of the stems of a bunch of coriander, and pounding them in a mortar and pestle.
- Squeeze the juice out with your hands.
- In a big bowl, whisk the belacan, sugar, egg white, sesame oil, coriander juice, corn starch and flour together until smooth.
- Add the chicken, coat well and marinate for four to six hours.
- When ready, heat up a pot of cooking oil or use a deep fryer.
- Drop the chicken gently into the oil and deep-fry the meat until crisp and golden brown (the inside should cook thoroughly but remain juicy).
- Transfer the fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
- Serve the fried chicken immediately with chilli sauce.
This recipe first appeared in Rasa Malaysia
Low Bee Yinn is a food blogger and cookbook author.