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Ayam Goreng Bacem (Javanese Fried Chicken)

Posting Date: 03/30/18

Ayam Goreng Bacem (Javanese Fried Chicken)

Ayam Goreng Bacem (Javanese Fried Chicken) originated in Jogjakarta or Yogyakarta in Central Java. The food from that area tends to be sweeter. However, it is not overly sweet since they balance it with the coconut milk, tamarind water, and other spices making it very flavorful. Ayam means chicken and goreng means fried. Bacem means slowly boiling in low heat. Because of the way it is cooked, the chicken is very tender and flavorful. This is one of the most flavorful chicken I have ever had. Normally in a fried chicken dish, it is flavorful on the skin but the flavor doesn't penetrate inside the meat. Ayam Goreng Bacem is very flavorful on the inside as well because the chicken absorbs all the spices during the slow boiling. After the chicken is fully cooked and tender, it is fried resulting in crispy skin. However, you can grill the chicken instead of frying it if you have health concerns. In addition to chicken, there are also tofu and tempeh version of Bacem. In Indonesia, they are called Tahu or Tempe Bacem. So, if you are a vegetarian, substitute the chicken with tofu or tempeh. In fact, I think Tempe Bacem is more popular in Indonesia than the chicken or tofu version. In Indonesia, the chicken is normally served with sambal terasi (shrimp paste chili sauce). I found many Westerners don't like the taste of shrimp paste because it tastes very strong. Thus, I don't provide the recipe. If you like the heat, you can serve it with regular chili paste on the side or you can use Sambal Oelek.

After the chicken is fully cooked and tender, what to do with the liquid used in cooking the chicken? I found a way to use the liquid. The liquid tastes so flavorful, so I feel it is such a waste to throw it out. So, I strain the liquid and discard the solids. I reserve the liquid to make soup. If the liquid is too thick, I add more water. To make the soup, I chop some celery, carrot, and mushrooms and dice chicken breast. I add them to the liquid and heat the liquid back to boil. Once it is boiling and the chicken is fully cooked, taste it and add salt or pepper if needed. I then add steamed rice to it and let it simmer for 2 min. Voila, I get myself a bowl of soup. Serve it while it is warm.

This chicken recipe serves for 4 people.


  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • For spice paste: 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • For spice paste: 6 small shallots, quartered
  • For spice paste: 5 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 8 chicken drumsticks. You could use other part of the chicken, such as thigh, breast.
  • 300 ml water
  • 300 ml coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass, white part only. Smash the white part with the back of the knife to release the oil.
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 50-60 grams palm sugar
  • 1" galangal, sliced. You can substitute with fresh ginger.
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • vegetable oil to fry chicken
  • Optional: For serving: slices of fresh tomato
  • Optional: For serving: sambal terasi (shrimp paste chili sauce) or other type of chili paste.


  1. Mix tamarind paste with 4 tablespoons of boiling water. Let it sit for 30 min. Strain and discard the pulp. Set aside tamarind water for cooking.
  2. Toast coriander seeds on a pan for about 2 min. Make sure you don't burn them.
  3. Process toasted coriander seeds, shallots, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until it becomes smooth paste.
  4. Place the spice paste, 3 tablespoons tamarind water, and all remaining ingredients, except tomato and chili paste, in a pot. Stir the liquid to mix all the seasonings. Cook it over high heat until the liquid is boiling. Once it is boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the chicken is fully cooked and tender (about 50 to 65 min). Don't cook it until the meat is falling off the bone since it will be dificult to fry it. You just want to cook it until it is fully cooked and tender. Once it is fully cooked, take the chicken out of the pot and let it sit on a colander for 10 min to cool it down and let the liquid drain off the chicken.
  5. If you prefer to fry the chicken, you may want to use splatter screen for this step since the oil may splatter during frying. Add enough vegetable oil on a frying pan. Heat it over medium heat. Add chicken to the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to fry the chicken in several batches because you don't want to overcrowd the pan. Fry the chicken until it is golden brown. Don't fry it too long since the chicken may become too dry. Once it is golden brown, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate lined with paper towel. Continue frying the remaining chicken until all the chicken pieces have been fried. If you prefer to grill the chicken instead of frying, generously oil the grill to make sure the chicken will not stick to the grill. Grill the chicken until it becomes light brown. Do not grill too long since we don't want the chicken to be dry. Remove from the grill once done.
  6. Serve the chicken with steamed rice, slices of tomato, and chili paste on the side.

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