1 Whole spring chicken, skin on
3 Lemongrass stalks
8 Small dried chillies, de-seeded
4 Small shallots
4 Garlic cloves
2 inches Fresh ginger
6 Kaffir lime leaves (remove the stalks)
¼ cup Thick coconut milk
2tsp Palm sugar
1tbsp Fish sauce
3tbsp Vegetable oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the marinade:
1. Place the shallots, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and chillies into a blender and blitz to a fine paste.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Add the spice paste and gently fry until fragrant and the oil has risen to the top.
3. Add in the palm sugar and continue cooking until fully melted. Stir well.
4. Once the spice paste has darkened by 1-2 shades, add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Adjust the seasoning of the coconut milk and fish sauce to taste.
(Note: You don’t want the paste to become too liquid because you’ll need to rub it over the chicken later and you’ll want it to stick.)
5. Remove from the heat and transfer to a clean bowl. Leave to cool.
To make the chicken:
1. Prepare the chicken. Remove the spine, turn the chicken over and use the palm of your hand to apply some gentle pressure on the bird, cracking the breastbone. Tuck the wings under themselves. (Note: This will prevent them from cooking too quickly compared to the rest of the bird and burning.).
2. Use a clean cloth to pat the whole chicken dry. (Note: This is important as if the skin isn’t sufficiently dry, it won’t become crispy and the marinade won’t stick to and flavour the meat as well as it should.)
3. Season the whole bird well with salt and pepper. Rub all over to allow the seasoning to infuse the whole bird.
4. Place the chicken in a glass dish and pour over the marinade paste. Massage the paste into the chicken thoroughly. Leave it to rest in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours, if not overnight.
To cook the chicken:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
2. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and pour over ½ cup of water. (Note: This will catch the juices released from the chicken and the water will prevent them from overcooking and sticking to the pan. We’ll use this ‘gravy’ to baste the chicken during the cooking process, ensuring that it’s full of flavour.)
3. Place the chicken on a roasting rack, well above the baking tray. (Note: This will prevent the chicken from sitting in its own juices and allow the air to circulate around the whole bird, helping to make the skin deliciously crispy.)
8. Roast at for 20mins in the middle of the oven. Then reduce the heat to 170ºC and cook for a further 40mins.
9. Remove the chicken from the oven. It should be perfectly cooked but the skin will need a bit more colour so baste it with the hot liquid that's accumulated at the bottom of the tray. Return to the oven under a higher ‘top heat’ for 5mins.
10. Allow the chicken to rest for 15-20mins before serving. This will allow the meat to relax and the juices to reabsorb.
Serve alongside steamed rice and some sambal.
White rice goes perfectly but, if you fancy shaking things up a bit, try stirring in some chopped fresh coriander or desiccated coconut flakes, salt and 2 pandan leaves. Delicious!
Don’t have time to make fresh sambal? Try mixing some sweet chili sauce with some fresh slices of lemongrass.
This recipe was shown to us at a cookery class with the Head Chef at Tiigo Restaurant at Montigo Resort, Seminyak