Malaysian food has an intense depth of flavor that comes from the use of fresh aromatic spices such as lemongrass, ginger, and galangal. It is delicious and, once tried, soon becomes a favorite. The spice mixture and method of cooking here are very versatile. You could make it with a large whole chicken to be enjoyed by a number of people, instead of allowing one small baby chicken or poussin per person. Or it could be made with skewers of chicken marinated for a bit longer and quickly grilled to ensure a succulent snack.
– 4 dried chilies, soaked in hot water to soften.
– 5 shallots, coarsely chopped.
– 2 garlic cloves.
– 1in (2.5cm) piece of fresh ginger.
– 1in (2.5cm) piece of fresh galangal (if galangal is not available, double the quantity of ginger).
– 1 tsp salt.
– 4 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves discarded.
– 4 baby chickens (poussins).
– 1 (10fl oz) can unsweetened coconut cream.
– or 1¼ cups canned coconut milk.
– 2 tsp sugar.
– juice of 2 limes.
Step 2: Drain the dried chilies when soft, and blend or process with the shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, and salt. Add a little water to form a paste. Process in the firmest ingredients first, then the softer ones, to ensure the paste is very smooth.
Step 3: Bruise the lemongrass using the back of a heavy knife. Stuff each chicken with the lemongrass, then rub the spice paste both inside and out. Put the remaining spice mixture in a pan with the coconut cream and sugar. Simmer until reduced by half.
Step 4: Place the baby chickens on the hot barbecue or grill, and cook for 3–4 minutes on all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes or so, basting the chicken with the coconut mixture every 5 minutes until the chicken is tender and opaque throughout, and the coconut spice mixture has all been used up. (If you are cooking a large chicken, it will need to roast in the oven for about 45 minutes after you have grilled it on all sides.).
Step 5: Before serving, pour all the juices from the baking sheet over the chicken and squeeze the lime juice over the top. This marinade and method of cooking is also suitable for drumsticks or chicken pieces. Serve accompanied by rice, green salad, vegetables, or a Singapore rojak salad.