IFC – Indonesian Fried Chicken or Ayam Penyet a.k.a DEATH BY CHILI.

IFC – Indonesian Fried Chicken or Ayam Penyet a.k.a DEATH BY CHILI.

Hello everyone, it’s been a long time since I last posted, and I think it’s about time I revisit this much ignored blog. I’m back with an explosive new recipe, and a real twist on fried chicken.

OK, so first of all, a disclaimer; this is nothing like the fried chicken you’ve seen in the past. In fact, I only call it fried chicken, because it is deep fried. This is where the similarities end. There is no breading, but there is a crispy skin. There is no glaze or sauce, just a super spicy oily sambal. This is not a recipe for those who faint of stomach.

So here I give you ‘Ayam Penyet’ or in English – ‘Smashed Chicken’. Personally I think ‘death by chili chicken’ is more appropriate, but you be the judge.

4 simple ingredients – red and green bird’s eye chili, red onions and garlic – mixed with the frying oil will make the best sambal ever.

The recipe is very simple, anyone can do it, but it delivers with big spice, big flavours, crispy skin and juice meat. Oh and when I say big spice, I mean it. In this particular, recipe I used 60 birds eye chili, and would have used more, but the wife isn’t so good with spice.

So here we go, proceed with caution…

I’ve broken the recipe into 3 stages; poaching, sambal and frying.


Poaching liquid

  • Big saucepan full of water
  • Plenty of salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 nutmeg grated


  • 26 small, green, birds eye chili
  • 34 red / orange birds eye chili – sizes can range
  • 3 medium size garlic
  • 3 big Asian shallots or one normal one
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 6-10 tablespoons of frying oil – see later


  • Wok half full of appropriate cooking oil (something that can handle high temperatures – sunflower, vegetable or canola)
  • 3 large chicken thighs


  1. First all, you need to poach your chicken. Take your saucepan full of water, and add in the seasonings listed. Bring it to the boil, and then reduce the heat until you get just below a simmer. You don’t want a rolling boil here. Then add your chicken and poach it for about 10 minutes. The aim here is pretty much cook the chicken until about 90% done. Once this is done, drain the chicken and put it in the fridge to fully cool down. This stage is essential to achieving crispy skin.
  2. .Prepare the Sambal, this is probably the energy intensive part of the process. Put all of  the ingredients into  mortar and pestle (or cobek and ulek if you’re lucky enough to have one). Then simply mash into a rough paste. You don’t a perfect paste, you should still be able to see large pieces of chili, but they should be flecked in and amongst much smaller pieces, see photos for the best idea.
This just about shows the consistency you’re aiming for – as you can see most of the chili has been based into a fine paste, but there are still a number of larger flakes.

Note: DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT be tempted to use a blender or processor, and DO NOT finely chop it all beforehand to make it easier. It will simply not taste the same. Trust me here, I didn’t believe it at first and its true. You also really want that roughness about it, it shouldn’t be uniform and this can only be achieved by hand.

  1. Get your oil hot, just to the point that if you put a wooden chopstick into it, it begins to bubble away. Then add in your well drained and fully chilled chicken. By having the chicken fully chilled, you won’t over cook the chicken as you crisp the skin. Rather you’ll simply be reheating it. I recommend using a nice long pair of tongs for this, as even well drained chicken may cause some hot oil to go flying. Cook it until the outside becomes brown and crisp. I find this may take 6 – 8 minutes.
  1. Now comes the good bit, and possibly the most important. Your chicken should be cooling, but do not throw that oil away. Take about 6-10 tablespoons of it (start with 6 and add more as needed) and add it into a warming pan. Then take your sambal and cook it out for about 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Instantly your kitchen should come alive with the smell of chili garlic and onion. You’re not looking for colour, just for the larger pieces of chili to start to wilt. Using the oil which was used for cooking the chicken ensures an extra infusion of taste, and really makes the dish. You want the sambal to come out fair oily, because the oil is where the flavor is.
Crispy chicken on the Cobek waiting for its sambal
  1. Put your chicken into the cobek (if you have one, a plate if you don’t), and put a generous amount of the sambal onto its crispy skin. Next, take the Ulek and lightly smash the chicken open, exposing the juicy meat to the spicy sambal oil. Give it a minute to get to know each other, and you’re almost ready to eat.
‘Smashed’ chicken with the all the good sambal and oil soaking into that delicious meat.

Serving suggestions: You want at least 1 – 2 chicken thighs each. Preferably 2, of course, though no one’s judging you for taking 3. Serve all the chicken on one plate, or cobek, and people help themselves. My favourite accompaniment is a bed of plain white rice, with a little Kecap manis or sweet soy sauce dashed over the top. The rice is perfect for mopping up all that delicious oil. Have some milk or chilled water handy, this one will knock your socks off.



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