Tag Archives: Salsa

Ayam Dabu-Dabu – Pan-Fried Chicken with Spicy Tomato Salsa Recipe

Ayam dabu-dabu is one of Manado’s specialty dish, golden pan-fried chicken, served with a spicy tomato salsa.

Dabu-dabu, or sambal dabu-dabu, is a fresh and fiery chili sauce from Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi. Made from tomatoes, chilies, shallots, and lime juice, this chili sauce is sure to whet up the appetite.

The ingredient lists sound a lot like those for salsa, no? I always wonder if there is any connection between Indonesian dabu-dabu and the Spanish salsa.

The Manado people serve this with grilled seafood, especially grilled fish, but it certainly works just as well with some pan-fried chicken breasts.

Ingredients for ayam dabu-dabu (pan-fried chicken with spicy tomato salsa): chicken breast, tomatoes, shallots, red chilies, lime, and cilantro (not shown).

Ingredients for ayam dabu-dabu (pan-fried chicken with spicy tomato salsa): chicken breast, tomatoes, shallots, red chilies, lime, and cilantro (not shown).

Ingredients for ayam dabu-dabu

1. Pan-fried chicken breast

To prepare pan-fried chicken breast, we will need skinless-boneless chicken breasts, salt, pepper, all-purpose flour, and olive oil.

TIPS: for a quick and easy meal, you can buy a rotisserie chicken and cut it into bite-size pieces.

2. Spicy tomato salsa (dabu-dabu)

For the salsa, we will need tomatoes, shallots, bird-eye chilies, lime, salt, sugar, and cilantro.

Calamansi (Indonesian: lemon cui, or jeruk kesturi) is a more common choice, but it is hard to get fresh calamansi in the US. You may spot frozen calamansi juice in your Asian grocery, but I think lime or lemon is an easier alternative.

Choose tomato varieties that are good for salsa. You want tomatoes with a firm flesh with little seeds. Roma tomatoes are widely available is one of the best choices for salsa. Feel free to add some cherry tomatoes or green tomatoes for a more colorful presentation.

Cilantro is not common in dabu-dabu, but I love them, and adding even just a couple of tablespoons of chopped cilantro makes the salsa more flavorful.

Golden brown pan-fried chicken breasts, served with spicy tomato salsa using tomatoes, shallots, chilies, lime, and cilantro.

Golden brown pan-fried chicken breasts, served with spicy tomato salsa using tomatoes, shallots, chilies, lime, and cilantro.

Step 1: Prepare dabu-dabu

Dabu-dabu is best when it is chilled. I always prepare the salsa first and let it chill in the fridge before frying chicken breasts.

Wash and dry tomatoes and lime, peel shallots and remove stems from bird-eye chilies. Cut tomatoes and shallots into dices, and cut chilies into thin slices.

Place tomatoes, shallots, and chilies in a mixing bowl, along with the lime zest, lime juice, and salt. Stir to mix, cover the bowl, and chill in the fridge.

If you are going to add cilantro to your salsa, add them right before serving so the leaves stay as fresh as possible and won’t wilt too much.

Prepare the spicy tomato salsa in advance and chill in the fridge. Fry chicken breasts and cut into thin slices, then serve with the salsa.

Prepare the spicy tomato salsa in advance and chill in the fridge. Fry chicken breasts and cut into thin slices, then serve with the salsa.

Step 2: Pan-fry chicken breasts

Sprinkle each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the chicken with all-purpose flour, and shake off excess all-purpose flour to get a crispy crust.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to the hot pan. Cook each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken breasts to a plate.

Rest pan-fried chicken breasts for 10 minutes, then cut into thin strips. Arrange chicken strips on a serving platter and serve with chilled dabu-dabu (spicy tomato salsa).

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Ayam Sambal Matah Bali – Pan Fried Chicken with Balinese Salsa Recipe

Ayam sambal matah Bali – Pan-fried chicken with Balinese salsa (spicy lemongrass salsa).

Bali, the land of a thousand temples, is the most famous island in Indonesia. The view is gorgeous and breathtaking, from the wide expanse of white sandy beaches, to the many Hindu temples, and the cool and green hilly rice terraces.

Many come for the visual treats, but if you have the chance to visit Bali, don’t forget to feast on the amazing Balinese cuisine. Every time I go and visit, the highlight of my vacation is always the food.

Ingredients for ayam sambal matah Bali: pan-fried chicken breast, lemongrass, shallot, bird-eye chilies, lime juice, olive oil, terasi (shrimp paste), and salt.

Ingredients for ayam sambal matah Bali: pan-fried chicken breast, lemongrass, shallot, bird-eye chilies, lime juice, olive oil, terasi (shrimp paste), and salt.

What is Sambal Matah?

Each region in Indonesia has its signature sambal, and Bali’s signature sambal is sambal matah. The most common translation for sambal matah is raw sambal since there is no cooking involved when preparing it. Based on the ingredients, I think it is more fitting to call it a spicy lemongrass salsa, or a spicy lemongrass and shallot salsa.

Sambal Matah Ingredients

We will needs shallots, lemongrass, bird-eye chilies, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and terasi/shrimp paste. You can also add garlic, kaffir lime leaves, and bunga kantan/torch ginger flower.

Terasi (shrimp paste)

Since terasi (shrimp paste) can be difficult to obtain if you live outside of Indonesia, feel free to substitute with fish sauce. Although it won’t be very authentic, the flavor is still very similar, and the umami boost from fish sauce is very close to Indonesian shrimp paste.

Lime juice

It is more common in Bali to use kaffir lime for the lime juice. Kaffir lime leaves are common in many Asian groceries in the US, but I have yet to see fresh kaffir limes. I use regular lime to prepare sambal matah all the time, and I think it is not a bad substitute at all.

Bird-eye chilies

Use red bird-eye chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit) for the most authentic experience. If you want a milder sambal matah, you can substitute half of the amount with milder chilies. Try using cayenne (Indonesian: cabe keriting), or even Fresno (Indonesian: cabe besar) for an even milder option.

Olive oil vs. coconut oil

If you have coconut oil at home, defiinitely use that instead of olive oil. Coconut oil is a common cooking oil in Indonesia, so it is not surprising that we use coconut oil for sambal matah.

Prepare simple pan-fried chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and all-purpose flour, then cut them into thin strips. Chop shallots, white part of lemongrass, and bird-eye chilies. Juice one fresh lime. Toast and ground terasi (shrimp paste). Measure out salt and olive oil.

Prepare simple pan-fried chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and all-purpose flour, then cut them into thin strips. Chop shallots, white part of lemongrass, and bird-eye chilies. Juice one fresh lime. Toast and ground terasi (shrimp paste). Measure out salt and olive oil.

How to prepare sambal matah?

1. Slice lemongrass

Remove the green outer layers of lemongrass to reveal the inner white portion. Chop away the top part of the lemongrass, then thinly slice the bottom 5 inches of the lemongrass stalk into very thin slices.

2. Slice shallot

Prepare shallots like you would an onion. Peel away the outer skins, then cut the shallots into small dices.

3. Chop bird-eye chilies

Remove the stems, then cut the chilies into small pieces. You can remove the seeds first before chopping the chilies to make the sambal milder.

4. Toast and ground terasi/shrimp paste

Terasi/shrimp paste comes in a block. Use a knife to cut away a small piece, place it in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate.

Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds to toast until the shrimp paste turns a lighter shade, very fragrant, and looks crumbly. Let it cool slightly, then use the back of a spoon to crush into a fine powder.

If you don’t have a microwave, you can also toast the shrimp paste in a frying pan without any oil over medium heat.

5. Juice a lime

Use fresh limes whenever possible since bottled lime juice is simply not very good. If you have a Microplane grater, you should use it to get some fresh lime zest too and add the zest to sambal matah.

6. Make sambal matah

Combine lemongrass slices, shallot slices, bird-eye chili slices, shrimp paste powder, salt, lime juice, and optionally, lime zest in a mixing bowl.

Even though sambal matah is meant to be raw, most Indonesians cook the oil until shimmering before using it. Please assemble the rest of the sambal matah ingredients first before cooking the oil, then pour the hot oil over the sambal.

Use a spoon to mix all the ingredients. Give it a taste test, and add more salt if needed. You can even add sugar if you think the sambal needs it, though I don’t usually add any to mine.

Place chicken strips in a large mixing bowl, add chopped shallot, chopped lemongrass, chopped bird-eye chilies, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and ground toasted shrimp paste.

Place chicken strips in a large mixing bowl, add chopped shallot, chopped lemongrass, chopped bird-eye chilies, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and ground toasted shrimp paste.

Prepare pan-fried chicken breasts

You can certainly serve sambal matah as a side for any of your Indonesian rice meal, but today we are going to serve it with some crispy golden pan-fried chicken breast strips.

We will use some chicken breasts, salt, pepper, and all-purpose flour. I use olive oil to pan-fry the chicken, but you can use butter or a mix of butter and olive oil for the best of both worlds.

First, cut each peach of chicken breast into two halves so they are thinner and will cook faster and more evenly. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, then give a light dusting of all-purpose flour.

Heat oil and/or butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, and fry chicken breasts until golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Rest for 10 minutes after frying to redistribute its juice and making sure the breasts are tender and juicy, then cut into thin strips.

Mix chicken strips and sambal matah right before serving.

TIPS: If you don’t feel like frying chicken breasts, you can buy a whole rotisserie chicken, cut it into bite-size pieces, and mix with sambal matah.

Toss gently until the chicken strips are evenly coated with sambal matah (spicy lemongrass salsa).

Toss gently until the chicken strips are evenly coated with sambal matah (spicy lemongrass salsa).

Other Indonesian sambal to try

For most Indonesians, a meal is not complete without a side of sambal or two. If you hunger for more Indonesian sambal, you can give my other sambal recipes a try:

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