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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ayam Babi Sioh & Egg Drop Soup


One of my favourite and indispensable pantry staple is assam (tamarind). The preserved dried skin we use by the bagfuls for our weekly dose of sinigang. The sweeter flesh within, processed into a pulpy paste, we would usually add to sambals and curries where its soft acidity imparts a welcome and distinct piquancy to the spicy melanges.

Assam is is also versatile enough to be a key ingredient in many dishes, for example the classic Peranakan Itek Sioh, or duck cooked in tamarind sauce. This is a dish I like to order in restaurants but more often than not would end up disappointed with their weak and pathetic renditions. While I was browsing the cookbooks last weekend I came across a recipe in Bety Saw's Asian Retro Food which substituted the duck for chicken; as there wasn't any duck at home we decided to have a go at this version.

It turned out that we didn't have enough chicken to make the dish so we added some pork ribs therefore strictly speaking we ended up with a Ayam Babi Sioh instead. And a most inspired idea it was too. The pork ribs absorbed the marinade more readily and withstood the boiling and frying to emerge in better shape and taste than the chicken. The reduced spiced tamarind sauce slicked sensually to the meats to ensure maximal sauce-meat ratio, the only other accompaniment necessary for a truly gratifying meal was a bowl of steamed white rice and some lightly sauteed greens.

Ayam Sioh

1 chicken cut into 8 large pieces, or an equivalent combination of pork and chicken

360g tamarind pulp,  mixed with 800 ml water and strained.

R1.5 tbsp rice vinegar

150g sugar

2 tsp salt

3 tbsp roasted ground coriander

12 shallots, peeled and ground

3 cloves garlic, peeled and ground.

1. Combine everything except chicken in a large bowl to make the tamarind sauce. Add chicken to the sauce and marinate overnight.

2. Bring sauce to boil first, then add chicken and continue boiling for 20 minutes when you can set aside chicken and reduce the sauce until it is thick.

3. In a wok, heat up some oil and fry the chicken until brown. Take care not to let the meat burn.

4. Drain and arrange chicken on a serving dish and pour the sauce over. Good to eat hot or cold.


Since it was a Sunday lunch I thought two dishes was not enough, afterall it is the most important meal of the week. So there was also a simple egg drop soup to complete the meal, and sweet Spanish melon for desserts after.

Light, flavourful and a real doddle to prepare, egg drop soup is a basic soup ideal for when one is not inclined to simmer in the Cantonese style for hours and hours especially in our current hot and humid season.

Chicken stock and water

Mix of cubed or similarly sized vegetables, here we had young corn, carrots, edamame and potatoes

1-2 eggs, beaten lightly

1. Bring stock and water to a quick boil to make into a light broth.

2. Add vegetables and cook them briefly.

3. Turn off the heat, and pour the eggs from up high in a circular motion over the soup. The residual heat will cook the eggs. 

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I love egg drop soup. It's an art, making a tasty clear soup, don't you think?

absolutely, it is simple but not easy.

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