When I think of a deliciously spicy dish, this fabulous Malaysian chicken comes immediately to mind; it has every spice in the book—cumin, fennel, coriander, chilies, and ginger among others. It is sweet and sour as well as spicy and just salty enough. I love to serve it with saffron rice and tropical fruit salad. —Gail Monaghan
whole cumin seed
whole fennel seed
whole coriander seed
dried Thai bird chilies or some sort of fresh chilies (bird, serrano, jalapeno, seeded and cut in large pieces to be removed later)
ketjap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
dry white wine
sugar (or brown sugar or palm sugar or demarara sugar) or a bit less
inches of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
cloves garlic thinly sliced
three pound chickens, cut into 8 or 10 pieces each or just use 20 thighs or breast halves
PAM or tastleless vegetable oil to grease the pans
Julienned mint, basil, cilantro or chives for garnish (optional)
In a small pan set over medium heat, toast the cumin, fennel, coriander seeds and dried chilies if using until fragrant. Stir constantly. Transfer to a bowl and when cool grind them in a spice or coffee grinder (previously ground spices can be substituted if necessary. But be sure they are fresh, not having sat in the cupboard for years).
In a large bowl, combine the ketjap manis, fish sauce, and mirin. Add the ground spices, garlic and ginger. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Combine the sauce with the chicken pieces. Stir well. Hopefully the chicken will be submerged. Otherwise, stir a few times a day.
Marinate for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours in the refrigerator.
Bring to room temperature before cooking.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 525 or as high as your oven will go. Place two sheet pans (cookie sheets but with low sides) or large baking pans in the oven to heat for at least 10 minutes.
When the oven and pans are hot, remove one pan at a time from the oven. Spray with Pam (quickest though you can also paint with tasteless vegetable oil) and place the chicken skin side down on the hot pan. It will sizzle. Do this quickly so the pan stays hot. Return the first pan to the oven and repeat with the other pan.
While the chicken is cooking, reduce the marinade by half until it is a thick glaze. Add juices from the cooking chicken if there is any as you go along.
After 10 minutes of cooking, reverse the pans in the oven and after 5 more minutes, turn the oven down to 375. After 5 more minutes, turn the chicken pieces over using a metal spatula. Be careful as they tend to stick. The chicken has now been cooking a total of 20 minutes. The wings and breast meat may be done. Check. If these pieces are doneo, check the others also. Remove whatever is don’t from the oven. Cook whatever is not done until it is. Though at the high heat, 20 minutes total is probably fine even for the dark meat. You can do all of this ahead and reheat in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes before serving.
When all the chicken is done, place it in a bowl and toss with the glaze or on a platter with the hot glaze poured over. This can be served hot, warm or even at room temperature. Shredded mint, basil, or chives or cilantro is pretty sprinkled over but not necessary.