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Ayam Rica Rica (Chicken in Spicy Chili Sauce)

Posting Date: 06/28/16

Ayam Rica Rica (Chicken in Spicy Chili Sauce)

Ayam Rica Rica (Chicken in Spicy Chili Sauce) originated from Menado in North Sulawesi island of Indonesia. Rica means chili referring to the chili pepper used in the recipe. Because of amount of the chili peppers used, this dish is hot. However, you can adjust the amount of chili pepper to suit you. This dish is normally served with warm rice which tames the heat from the chili pepper.

Instead of using fresh red chili pepper, I use sambal oelek. It is difficult to get red chili pepper in my Asian stores. I found sambal oelek is a good substitute for it since the brand I use doesn't add anything else, such as garlic, etc., and thus, I get the red color and heat I need without the additional flavor that I don't want. In the recipe, I use chicken drumsticks but you can also use other parts of the chicken. Chicken drumsticks are normally cheaper in my grocery store and that's the only reason I use them. In the cooking methods, I suggested to bake the chicken after cooking the chicken in liquid. The reason is because the flavor intensifies after baking it. You can skip baking it if you are in a rush. One of the ingredients is kaffir lime leaves. If you cannot find them, you can use lime zest instead. The recipe itself uses 2 limes to marinate the chicken. So, if you cannot find kaffir lime leaves, zest the limes first before you juice them to marinate the chicken.

The recipe serves 4 people.


  • 4 kaffir lime leaves. If you can't find them, use zest of 2 limes from the next ingredient and save the lime juice to marinate the chicken.
  • To marinate chicken: 2 limes. If you can't find kaffir lime leaves, zest these limes first and use the juice to marinate the chicken.
  • To marinate chicken: 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 chicken drumsticks. You could use other parts of the chicken.
  • For spice paste: 1.5 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • For spice paste: 1 large shallot or 3 small shallots (depending on the size of the shallot you find in your store), quartered
  • For spice paste: 1.5 tablespoons sambal oelek or you can use more if you like heat. Instead of using sambal oelek, you can use 5 red chili peppers if you can find them in the store. I use Huy Fong brand for sambal oelek since they don't add shrimp paste or garlic to it and thus, I got the chili pepper I need without any other flavors I don't want.
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 lemongrass (white part only), smashed
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or to taste
  • cooked rice


  1. If you can't find kaffir lime leaves, zest the 2 limes first and set it aside.
  2. Juice the 2 limes. Place chicken in the ziploc bag. Pour the lime juice on top of chicken and sprinkle with salt. Close the bag and move the chicken around in the bag so that each piece and side of the chicken can get coated with the marinade. Open the bag and squeeze the ziploc bag to get the air out of the bag before sealing the bag. Put the bag in the fridge and let the chicken marinate in a flat surface for at least half an hour.
  3. While waiting for the chicken to marinate, put ginger, shallot, and sambal oelek in a food processor. Process them until they become smooth paste.
  4. Heat up vegetable oil in deep pan. Fry the chicken in batches until it is light golden brown. The chicken doesn't need to be fully cooked since it will finish cooking with the sauce. Drain the chicken on a plate lined with paper towel.
  5. Heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a deep pan. Saute the spice paste until it becomes aromatic. Add tomato and lemongrass and saute them for 2 min. Add chicken, coat the chicken with the paste, and let it cook for 2 min.
  6. Add water, kaffir lime leaves or lime zest, salt and sugar. Stir it, taste it, and add more salt or sugar if needed. Let the liquid boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the chicken to cook. Turn off the the heat once the chicken is fully cooked and the liquid is almost gone.
  7. If you prefer, you can bake the chicken in the oven. Baking the chicken will intensify the flavor on the chicken and thus, I take this extra step. Turn the oven on to 350 deg. Coat the chicken with little bit of the sauce and place the chicken on baking sheet. Do not throw away the remaining sauce since we are going to combine it with the chicken later. After 15 min, turn off the oven, take the chicken out, and combine the chicken with remaining sauce.
  8. Serve it while it is still warm with warm rice.

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