Red chilies, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and lime juice are the key ingredients to transform a chicken into a bold, spicy, fresh, and citrusy dish.
Ayam rica-rica is specialty chicken dish from the city of Manado in Indonesia North Sulawesi. Rica means chili in North Sulawesi language, so ayam rica-rica translates to chicken with chili sauce.
If you love bold, spicy, fresh, and citrusy dishes, you will definitely love ayam rica-rica. Maybe just add one or two bird eye chilies if this is the first time making this dish, especially if you have kiddies eating this too.
Also, don’t forget the steamed white rice, and copious amount of cold refreshing drink to counter the heat from all those chilies!
Choosing the correct size or weight of chicken for ayam rica-rica
Most Indonesian chicken dishes use a whole chicken to prepare. We typically ask our butcher to chop the chicken up to 8-12 pieces. The weight of a chicken sold in Indonesia averages about 1.5 kg, or about 3.3 lb.
For simplicity, you can just use chicken pieces such as drumsticks, thighs, chicken quarters, e.t.c., as long as they total to around 1.5 kg (or 3.3 lb).
Herbs and spices needed to prepare ayam rica-rica
Ayam rica-rica is all about red chilies, so you will need a lot of it. But aside from the red chilies (I use red fresno chilies, and occasionally, I sneak in some red bird-eye chilies), you will also need the following:
- lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh)
- kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
- lime (Indonesian: jeruk nipis)
- shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah)
- garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
- ginger (Indonesian: jahe)
If you are familiar with Indonesian dishes, you will realize that you need a whole lot less of herbs and spices to prepare ayam rica-rica compared to many other Indonesian recipes. :)
Transforming this into a grilled chicken dish
If you wish, there is another alternative way of preparing ayam rica-rica. You can turn this braised chicken dish into a grilled chicken dish!
Once the chicken has finished braising in the pot, remove the lid and cook until the sauce really clings to the chicken.
Turn on a grill or an oven broiler, and grill/broil the chicken just until the skin is charred. Enjoy!
Ayam Rica Rica - Manado Chicken with Chili Sauce
- 1 chicken (about 1.5 kilogram/3.3 lb.), cut into 8 pieces (or use drumsticks, thighs, quarters, e.t.c.)
- 3 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh), bruised and knotted
- 5 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
- juice from 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Grind the following into spice paste
- 10 red fresno chili (Indonesian: cabe merah besar/keriting), seeded
- 10 red bird-eye chili (Indonesian: cabe merah rawit), seeded (optional, or use according to the level of spiciness you can tolerate)
- 100 gram shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
- 6 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
- 2 inches ginger (Indonesian: jahe)
- Heat 5 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan, stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, salt, and sugar and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add chicken pieces and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and let cook undisturbed for 20 minutes on medium heat, or until chicken is fully cooked and tender. Serve with a bowl of steaming white rice.