If you’ve ever been to Indonesia and tried nasi campur, chances are you’ve had ayam sisit, a.k.a. spicy shredded chicken in the mix. For those unfamiliar with nasi campur, it’s basically a mixed plate with a heaping serving of rice surrounded by a variety of delicious side dishes. Out of all those side dishes, ayam sisit is definitely one of my favourites.
From the first time I dug my fork into that pile of spicy, shredded goodness I was hooked and soon after set out on a mission to find out how to make ayam sisit. At first I thought it would be a super complicated process involving all kinds of exotic ingredients and cooking wizardry, but when I finally got a Balinese friend to show me how to make it, I was surprised at how easy it actually is.
This is just one version of this popular Balinese and Indonesian dish. I know that other people make it differently—for example, a friend of mine boils the chicken first with spices and herbs before shredding it—and I’m sure there are tons of variations from household to household and village to village. This one works for me though, because the prep is relatively easy and the flavours are easily adjustable depending on how spicy and tangy you want it.
A note on the ingredients: I know that all y’all who aren’t living in Indonesia might find it difficult to track down some of the ingredients like jeruk limo and daun salam, but not to worry because you can easily substitute regular lime juice for the jeruk limo and fresh bay leaves for the daun salam. As for the terasi, I’m actually not a huge fan of it because it can be pretty fishy smelling and tasting, so I’m A-OK with leaving it out altogether.
Cheers and selamat makan!
Spicy Balinese Shredded Chicken (Ayam Sisit)
- 1 whole chicken breast
- 6-7 cloves garlic smashed
- 2 small limes (jeruk limo) cut in half and seeded
- 4 leaves daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves)
- 1 large pinch salt
- 15 - 20 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 - 10 chilis seeded and thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 3 leaves kaffir lime thinly sliced (about 2 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp terasi (shrimp paste)
- 2 large pinches salt
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- Heat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Lay the chicken breast flat and place the garlic cloves on the chicken. Add a generous pinch of salt and squeeze the lime juice over the chicken. Use your hands to rub the garlic, salt and lime juice into the chicken.
- Add the daun salam leaves to the chicken, then wrap the chicken with twine. Roast in the oven for 2 hours or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Unwrap the chicken, discard the twine and the daun salam leaves. Use two forks to shred the chicken.
- While the chicken is cooking, stick the terasi on the end of a fork or metal skewer and heat it over open flame until dark brown or slightly darkened. Place it in a bowl with the shallots, add two large pinches of salt, and mix well.
- Add the garlic and chilis to the shallot mixture and mix well. Slowly incorporate the coconut oil in a thin stream, then add the kaffir lime leaves and mix well.
- Toss the shredded chicken and sambal matah in a bowl until the chicken is thoroughly coated. If too dry, add more coconut oil. Season to taste, adding extra chilis if you want to amp up the heat.