Mie Ayam

Growing up in Jakarta held a lot of great memories for me and in particular..numerous food addiction memories. Let's talk about their street food..in every street, any corner, on the street, and yes..under bridges..food stalls are EVERYWHERE. You will never go hungry, or get bored.. Jakarta is notorious for its 2-hour long traffic when the commute (traffic-free) is probably just 20 minutes..Oh yes, this is the lifestyle we have been so in tuned with. It's not all food stalls, but anything from the paper, magazines, viagra, cigarettes by the stick, wooden sculptures, drinks..you name it..they got it.

So you're probably wondering.. I mean, there's an endless supply of food stalls everywhere..you can't possibly try every one? No you can't and there's always this fear at the back of your mind whether any of this stuff is "safe..or clean" to devour. I mean..I'm still here! But then again, my friend T (a tired and full of complaints white man) would say how I, an Indo probably grew up in the village woods and thus exposed to harsh chemicals, pollution, unsanitary conditions, food that isn't organic or "clean" and yes sure..growing up in a third world country isn't always pretty but..fortunately I grew up in a nicer, and safer area with village woods as my playground and guards mending the corners of my home. If anything..I'm glad to have a stomach impervious to anything..except for really really hot chillies which my tongue and tolerance can't hold.

Anyway..before I get too carried away with my past let's get back on track with this title post. Mie Ayam. Mie- Noodles spelled in bahasa, and Ayam- chicken. So technically its Chicken Noodles..chicken and noodles.. Anywhoo..that's the breakdown of mie ayam. It's one of indo's best ever creations..so simple, so good, gosh..it's addictive, I can't stop raving about it..it's just indescribable with one bite. It consists of egg noodles, poached chicken cooked in their secret sauce, boiled choy sum, and bakso (meatballs), and a side of soup. However simple it may be..its always the simplest things that are the hardest to re-create. I'm talking about Bakmi Gaja Mada..yes..for those who know what I'm talking about..good or what!? We always ate it for breakfast, every weekend my siblings and I would crowd around the table with mie ayam and all its condiments, tahu bakso (tofu stuffed meatball) bakso (meatball) , mie ayam jamur (chicken noodles with mushroom) soup, chilli padi (birds eye chillies), and kecap manis...ooh.

It's been a little over a year since I last had mie ayam coiled around my chopsticks and so I had..Haad to make this. And so my adventure began with gathering all necessary ingredients. Wanton noodles..or (Hong Kong style noodles), a whole chicken, chicken bones, scallions, kecap manis, asian shallots (bawang merah), garlic, and jeruk nipis (indonesian lime..a cross between a calamansi and a kaffir lime) I used normal limes since they didn't have it.

The process of making this isn't too difficult, just lengthy and there's a bit of prep work that needs to be done. First you have to harvest extra fat off the chicken, and extra skin (like if you get a whole chicken with the neck then harvest the neck skin) we need this to make chicken oil, which is a key flavorant to many indo dishes. Just drop the chicken fat and skin into a small saucepan and pour in like 2 tbs of water, put it on really low heat and the fat will render slowly and the water will evaporate leaving you with chicken cracklins and clear chicken fat. Secondly, peel lots of garlic and asian shallots, keep them separate, you want to make garlic oil, shallot oil, and fried crispy shallots. With the garlic, all you have to do is mince it and put it in a small pot, pour in about 1-1/2 cups of canola oil and place it on low-med heat..it will slowly heat up and sizzle the garlic, and be sure to watch it..you don't want it to burn.. when it's done you'll get crispy minced garlic and garlic oil! (you can store them together) Now, the shallot oil is a little different..first you have to slice the shallots paper thin..(about 20 shallots), once they're all sliced, fill a small pot with 2-2/12 cups of oil..make sure the oil is about 325 F, we want to fry the shallots till its golden brown and crisp, and the oil leftover is your shallot oil..keep them separately.

With all that prep work done.. we're just halfway there! Trust me..it'll be worth it! Fill up a large pot of water and place it on the stove..(off heat) Fabricate the chicken meat off the bones and place the bones into the cold water..now turn on the heat and bring it to a boil then down to a simmer. Cut all of your chicken meat into small pieces, like 1 inch and half inch pieces..like a very rough dice/mince. Poach the chicken meat into the simmering pot for a good 10-12 minutes. After poaching..shock the chicken pieces in ice cold water and drain. Heat up a saute pan, add a little bit of chicken oil, garlic oil, and shallot oil, once sizzling, throw in the chicken and add in kecap manis, a little bit of the garlic, touch of oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and white pepper. Cook it for about 5 minutes, till the chicken pieces have soaked up all the goodness. Once that's done, its time for the noodles!! It's finally coming to an end!! Bring a pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Drop in the noodles and cook till al dente (to the bite). While waiting for the noodles to cook, assemble your bowl..a tsp of chicken, garlic, and shallot oil, a splash of fish sauce, a pinch of sugar, a dash of white pepper, and a squirt of lime juice. Drain your noodles and throw it into the bowl, mix the noodles thoroughly and top it with the chicken meat, garnish it with a half a lime, and crispy shallots. DONE!

Since I had a lot of the chicken meat leftover from the day before, I made mie ayam jamur as well.. All I did was add straw mushrooms and splashed some mushroom soy in the mix. Equally as good!

So if you're ever in Jakarta..head over to a Bakmi GM.. you'll be hooked instantly! And if you never have the chance I do recommend going to Killiney Road (singapore) and trying the Sarawak Kolo Mee ..it is sooo good too!


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