Ayam pongteh

Ayam pongteh

Braised potato chicken

Have You Eaten
Billy Law

This dish brings back a lot of childhood memories. My mum used to cook this quite often, as it is easy to make and doesn’t need that many ingredients. Ayam pongteh is a simple braised chicken and potato stew that is so comforting and homely. Whenever I cook this dish, I like to keep some in the refrigerator and reheat it the next day, once the flavour has had time to develop overnight.


Quantity Ingredient
7-8 dried shiitake mushrooms
10 french shallots, peeled
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
5cm piece ginger, peeled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soya bean paste, (see note)
1/2 chicken, cut into small pieces, (see note)
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy caramel
1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar, (see note)


  1. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of hot water for 1 hour until softened, then drain, reserving 375 ml of the mushroom water for later use. Remove and discard the mushroom stalks.
  2. Put the shallots, garlic and ginger in a food processor and process to form a paste. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large pot over medium–high heat and fry the paste until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the soya bean paste and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the wok and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, until the chicken is half cooked and well coated in the paste. Add the potatoes and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the reserved mushroom soaking water, soy sauce, soy caramel and palm sugar. Give everything a quick stir and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the potatoes are soft but not mushy.


  • Gula melaka, or dark palm sugar, is commonly used in Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. Sold in Asian grocers, gula melaka usually comes in a log shape; don’t get it mixed up with the light palm sugar, which is usually sold as small discs. Please be mindful to buy sustainable gula melaka, and stop the unethical practice of forest logging that has destroyed much of the orang-utan’s habitat in Malaysia and Indonesia.


  • Soya bean paste is available from Asian grocers. Alternatively, you can substitute with Korean fermented bean paste (doenjang) or Japanese miso paste, but the flavour won’t be quite the same.

    Instead of using half a chicken, you can substitute with chicken pieces such as breasts, drumsticks, wings or marylands. You can also use pork for this recipe.
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