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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spiced Fried Chicken

I have always wanted to make this type of fried chicken. Until I saw in Sonia’s blog that she made something similar. I didn’t have any lemon grass on hand, but I did it anyway, and well, it did taste like it (the one in my my head).

This fried chicken reminds me of my days in Felda Selancar. I spent 2 years of my youth there. It’s an oil palm estate that is 55km away from the nearest town, and all along the way from the estate to town is oil palm, as far as the eye can see.

The school was my first posting after completing teacher’s training, and some got shocked I got posted to such a remote area, in Pahang. I was questioned by some why didn’t I request Perak or Klang Valley, with the thought that I will be closed to home or KL, where Mike is that time. Errr… first of all, I’m not married, they will not give me such high demand areas. If I am willing to be posted to Pahang, I won’t be posted to East Malaysia. Hey, not that I don’t like the East, I do, but just that I feel that if I ever feel homesick, it’s hard to go home, and if I’m in Pahang, no matter how remote I am posted to, I can still drive home, even if it means driving through the night. Even if I request Perak, Perak is not small, and I can get posted to Thai bordering towns.. that’s far.

Well, Selancar ain’t that bad, Segamat which is a town almost as big as Kuala Kangsar is just 40 minutes away. If I ever want to have McD’s, Pizza or KFC, I’ll just drive for 40 mins,and well, we always do :-D Felda Selancar is an oil palm resettlement that is made up of 99.5% Malay, with 0.5% Indians and 1 Chinese family among the thousands of Malay families. My school is made up of almost 2000 students with about 5 Indian kids. I didn’t feel left out amidst these people. I felt at home. I felt welcomed.

I was lucky that when I arrived, there’s another Chinese(HMF) at the school, and I came replacing another Chinese. That new friend of mine, HMF was so scared thinking that she’ll be left alone after the other girl left. And HMF was relieved that I came by, and I shared the room with her. Minority we maybe, among the rest of the Malays teachers, but everybody treat us well, and everybody were our friends.

The canteen fed us well, and I was in such good terms with the Canteen, I would request dishes from them and I’ll see them the next day for lunch, or maybe days later, but they’ll prepare it for me. And canteen will even send me Pengat Durian (Durian Coconut Dessert), on a personal basis right up to my quarters free of charge. Pak Yob and Mifa, thank you so much. Sometimes I’ll just stay at the canteen after school and chat chat chat. Life was good, so was the laksa there. The best Malay laksa ever!!!

The school also treated me well. I wasn’t forced to cover up, like what happened in JB, where any other Non Muslim teachers are required to wear shirts/blouses that covers up the elbows and if better the butt, and maxi skirts. I just dressed according to the Federal government’s rules, no sleeveless and no skirts shorter than the knee. That’s it, in rural Palm Oil estate made up of 99.5% Malays allowed me to dress that way to school, and no complaints from parents or students. It’s so different than urban JB. And the school authorities made sure that we the only 2 Chinese teachers that ever stayed longer than 6 months there were treated well. Whenever there’s an eating event in School, En. Raub will definately watch out for us, making sure we were there to eat out hearts out. They don’t want us to feel left out.

The students were superb. Although most of them are not academically inclined, but teaching is definitely fun there. They may not understand what was the internet(hey, 7 years ago, not now), and they do not know what a credit card is, nor what is e-banking, but I loved teaching them. During the fasting month, some of them will drop by our quarters and ask us out, to go food shopping with them. And these students will not allow us to treat them, and after that, we’ll eat together at our house. During the rainy season, the students will ask me to go mushroom collecting with them at the oil palm area. And being a rural school, one can just do anything and use the school’s compound as long as the activity is beneficial to the students. So, my students and I will always have cooking sessions, after school in the Home Science lab. I do remember my best cooks, Rohana, Roslina, and Sharlina. Cooking sessions with the back classes were always a blast, and they always produce the best tasting dishes and the cleanest kitchen thereafter. Top classes will prepare the best looking garnishes and most careful in all that they do. Middle classes are a headache, but still fun in the end.

Now that I’m back in KK, life in school is no longer the same. HMF also said the same, if it’s not because we need to stay near our husbands, we don’t think we would want to leave the school.
SMK Perwira Jaya, Felda Selancar… I missed you, a lot.

So here’s a copycat version of my favourite fried chicken from Pak Yob’s Canteen, eaten every so often during the best years of my teaching life til now.

75gm shallots (about 5)
75gm ginger (about 3 inches)
3 cloves garlic
Pound everything or pulverize it in the mill/food processor

1 tsp coriander seeds (ketumbar)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jintan putih)
1 tsp fennel seeds (jintan manis)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chicken curry powder
1 and ½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp flour
Ground coriander, cumin, fennel and black pepper in the mill until fine. Mix with the rest of the dry ingredients.

(C )
1 tsp dark soy sauce
750gm chicken drumsticks or any other parts, rinsed and drain. (It needs a bit of moisture)

1. Mix (A) with chicken, then (B) and dark soy sauce. Rub the seasonings into every nook and cranny of the chicken.
2. Leave it to marinate for 1 hour.
3. Heat a wok of oil and put in chicken pieces, make sure the chicken pieces are covered with a bit of the marinade. Fry in hot oil on medium high heat until golden and crispy. Pour oil over strainer to recover any bits of the crunchy fried marinade.

I'm also submitting this to Babekl's Merdeka Open House
Actually this write up was not done specifically for this event.
It was already drafted 2 months before I knew of this, you all know I have loads of back posts, right?
Just that I dug this out (supposedly due to be posted in November) because I felt it was suitable, something made from the heart.


  1. Your fried chicken really makes me hungry! Looks so delicious!

  2. Kitchen Corner,
    Haha... Go and eat. It's lunch time now.

  3. Wendy, what a coincidence, I just posted drumsticks too. Yours look mouth-watering, I just love fried chicken too. Although I dun eat skin but exceptional for fried and grilled chicken skin :P.
    Your teaching life in Selancar seem to be enjoyable and fun. Are you the one sitting on the bed?

  4. I don't cook very often, but I will definitely try this one. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Haha! You and Jess both did chicken drumsticks! Both are so tempting! I might join in the fray too! ;P

  6. That's a really nice heartwarming sharing! It's hard to imagine that you managed 2 years in that place. Being an urban girl, growing up in a highly convenient and accessible area, it's difficult for me to imaging to drive FORTY MINUTES for fast food.

    I'm sure that what made you miss the place is 99.5% of malays that put in much effort to help you and your friend feel at home =)

    Lovely fried drumsticks! I'm sure they pack a punch of flavours!

  7. wor, yummy drumsticks! I like to eat wild mushrooms which collectd from oil palm area, when i was a kid, my my mom just added some ginger and pork to cook this wild mushroom, the good taste i still remember till now, salivate!

  8. Wendy, your Merdeka post is just getting better! You know you just brought some tears to eyes at work!!?? Luckily, it's lunch break ... No one's around ...

    Wah, boleh makan durian Pahang juga ... Bagus! Why does pengat durian keep haunting me geh?

    Remember I asked you about why you chose to enter the education field? I remember you weren't a teacher before that. Besides, according to you, that it's a calling, I think you did enjoy every bit of it. I know, life in a pekan/kampung can be so innocent. I miss it ... though I had mine the American way. (Aiya, Melaka OK gua ... At least, the pace of life there is slower than KL.)

    Eh, so Selancar is close to northern Johor lor? You meant Segamat, Johor? I can imagine how torturous it was for both you and Mike at the same time. Yea, at least you weren't posted to East M'sia. That's 2 hours of flight away lar ...

    If only the entire Malaysia is just as harmonious and beautifully pictured as what it was/is in this pekan called Selancar ... Satu Malaysia would have been a reality ... It's just sad ... Though, I've got to say I have good good Malay and Indian friends, including my neighbors. However, urbanites and rural folks are definitely different from each other. What a dilemma ... =(

    Wendy, I look forward to KK! Will try my best to work around it ... But you know hor, my AL not much left dy ... LOL!


  9. Hi are an educator and yet you can cook so well...salute! :) wonderful post and I love your fried drumsticks...putting the ingredients together in my mind and getting the taste virtually has already put the urge in me to cook this :p See ,how the mind of a foodie thinks.....salivating now just looking at them...temptress :p thanks for the recipe. Will try it out when I have gathered the ingredients together.

  10. hi, after seeing your last 2 posts, i also feel like submitting an entry..thinking of a dish now...

  11. That's an interesting description of a Malaysian school. Love the pictures as well, so that I get a better overview of what you're trying to convey...!

    Great recipe as usual and mouthwatering fried chicken!

  12. Thanks for making the effort to write up a little piece of your teaching history for us, excellent post. ;) Another finger licking good chicken recipe (just came from Jess's blog).... Who needs KFC?! thanks for the recipe!

  13. Jess Bakericious,
    Yes, I saw your drumsticks and I super love them. I also only like fried or roasted chicken skin :)

    Yoke Yin,
    Great, don't forget to let know the outcome.

    Hahaha, it's just that it got posted on the same day. I did this months ago. Hahah.

  14. Youfei,
    40 mins is near to get to town. I was actually elated when I got to know the estate was just 40 minutes away, and Segamat is a town with supermarkets and fast food. Some places might need 2 hours to get some KFC or McD. And not every town will have fast food or supermarkets.
    I was pretty blessed.

  15. Sonia,
    Adapted from the recipe in your site la.
    Wah... you loved those mushrooms eh?
    The Chinese will just cook with ginger and meat but Malays love them fried!

  16. Pei-Lin,
    I see Mike every week!!!
    All those that stayed in my house are travelling to KL every week after friday's school. And the rest of the teachers said, "Itu rumah orang KL".
    I rarely stay for the weekend, unless there's something to do, if not, I'll surely chow.

  17. Edith,

    thanks for the kind words. One has to enjoy work, if not it'll be torturing to be in this field, as it's until I pension!
    I'd sure love to know the feedback if you've tried thi sout.

  18. Lena,
    Oh please do. I have another post coming up tomorrow, but less long winded.

    Cooking Gallery,
    These pics were taken on the first day I step foot in the school. No more pics after that, something of which I regretted. Should've taken pics with everybody.

    Hahaha, are Jess and I tempting you to do a drumstick dish too??

  19. Hi Wendy,

    Someone like you who full of passion and love(testimonial from your write up)- I believe one way or another you sure have touched the students' heart and they are fortunate to have you as their teacher too.

    Elyn Teo

  20. I love Malay Style fried chicken. Now that I have the recipe, hmm... my turn to try it out. :) Thanks for sharing.

  21. Sometimes it is nice to stay at outskirt remote areas.....less stress and life is slow...

    Thks for the fried chicken recipe. Looks delicious!

  22. Wendy,
    The fried chicken looks so yummy, and finger licking good. It is especially good when it's in memory of some good events. :) Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  23. The first pix reminds me of my dad posting to Johor oil palm estate a long time ago. When I first went and visit him I cried because it was so remote ha ha.. This is a beatiful write-up Wendy and the fried chicken look just like one sold at the Nasi Lemak Stall. Beautifully fried.

  24. Wow.....that sounds like an awesome experience!! The school sounds huge! Ours only has about 700 students......that's like 3 times as big!! And your school canteen sounds a billion times better than I'd love to be served fried chicken like this at our school!! It looks delicious- and with all the spices used, I can only imagine how flavourful it would be!!

  25. Wendy, it's great to listen to your story :) I was posted to a small district near Thai border 3 years also. I was there for one year. Although it's a bit far from home, I did enjoy my life there, people there are very friendly and I felt warm. I still miss that place :)

  26. Elyn,
    Thanks. I'm glad to have them as my students.
    Infact, I'm still on facebook with some of them :)

    Belly Good Cooking,
    Do try it out one day :)

    Oh yes, life was so so slow during those 2 years, but it was fun. The air was much much fresher. Imagine the fan's collected dust is white and not black.

  27. Passionate about Baking,
    Oh yes..
    Good food and good people, very nice years I had.

    Oh... your dad works in the oil palm industry too? Long long ago, the situation's far worse, with no running water and no electricity. Your dad must have been a strong man, mentally.
    Haha, the chicken's actually "lat pei lat guat", cos I didn't use enough oil and the chicken got stuck to the wok, haha!!

    You won't want to be a student in this school
    The students only eat Nasi Lemak everyday. No noodle soup, no curry noodles, no sandwiches no nothing!!!

    You are also teaching??
    It's actually very nice to teach in rural areas.

  28. I love reading your story. :)
    I taught in secondary school before. It's a Chinese school with only boys. I was a temporary teacher while waiting for my STPM result. After that, I was called to go back teaching on semester breaks during my uni time. It was a nice experience with the boys and to earn some pocket money.

  29. Actually I don't mind to get posted to some remote area for a few years--when I was single la, I mean. That'd be some experience which money can't buy...My 1st choice in the posting form was KL, which I heard was impossible to get then and they will then simply post you anywhere they like (which was my intention--to see where fate's going to take me). So, I was dumb-founded when I opened my letter of posting to see that I was posted to KL...(I was the only one in my class of 50 to get KL).

    I can see that Selancar's a peaceful town...nice and full of fresh air! The 1st few years of teaching is usually the best as we r still full of energy and hopes. As the years goes by, something inside dwindles...It's good good to take a year's leave, you least for me!

    I like your this post a lot! Be it Selancar or the fried really struck a cord somewhere inside me.

  30. Little Inbox,
    The money comes so much later...
    The temps in my school told me, they'll only get the money when they enter Uni, cos it takes months to get it processed, just like our first paycheck.

    Haha... maybe you missed this chance when you were still single, haha!!!
    Anyway, KL is easy to get. Cos no one wants to enter KL city center, where your first school was!!! Haha!! When I came back to Klang Valley, I couldn't get Selangor, I had to appeal, and the fella asked me, if I want KL, then he'll give me, but if I insist Selangor, then fat hopes, unless I'm going to Klang. Which was why I got to know you in PUDU!!!! Who in their right mind will want a school in KL city unless they live there.

  31. I spent a year away from my then bf (now husband) and couldn't take it, I moved back with him and commute instead. Well at least you enjoyed your days there =) great post! The chicken looks amazing!

  32. Fried Chicken always works! Just need nasi lemak panas now with it :)

  33. Hi, Wendy, I did not know you are a teacher! :) What subjects do you teach. Are you still teaching now? Oh, I miss my high school. I used to eat my school canteen Kacang puteh alot. Im not sure if this school you were mentioning about has it. But i really miss it :)

  34. pigpig,
    Why won't the man commute instead?
    I find that it's always the woman that is willing to commute. I drove 4 hours weekly to get back to Kl and another 4 hours back to Pahang.. sigh. When I was in JB, I took 4 hours bus to KL and another 4 to JB...The man just won't want to budge!!

  35. My Simple Food,
    I haven't met anyone who doesn't love fried chicken!! Haha.

    It's only in Perak that schools have kacang putih. Other places not really. Not even in KL.
    Kacang putih seems to a rare sight out of Perak.

  36. Wendy, it's a great post! Actually, Selancar is quite a huge estate... which cover along the Reserved Forest. My hubby used to bring me & the kids go champing in there...errr... pretty hardcore! But haven't been there for years already. Recently, hubby asked me if I wanted to go. hehe... I told him NO MORE hardcore for me. I don't want to get heart attack later on. So, the latest adventure tour of mine was the none hardcore champing trip, still under Selancar. Btw, that fried chicken is really really tempting. I'm drooling! It's in my list-to-do. Thanks & have a nice day.
    Cheers, kristy
    p/s so, where are you teaching now?

  37. Wendy, I'm not a teacher, but I'm working with government, so it's normal for us to get posted to rural areas after our first year training. However, luckily I'm back to my hometown now :)

  38. Kristy,
    Ohhhh.... I've stated I'm in Kuala Kangsar numerous times, hahahaha!!
    Selancar is not the biggest resettlement in Rompin district. Keratong is biger.
    i used to be in Selancar 2 and it's 30km from the mainroad. Just drive a bit more and I'll reach Endau Rompin.

  39. Min,
    Oh let me guess,
    Pharmacist or a doctor :)
    Or anything medical related.

  40. before - nobody sit on the katin.

    after - you sit on the katin and you change ur computer as well. hehehee

  41. Voon,
    The before was in the midst of unpacking.
    The computer not yet put casing.
    After that put casing liao.
    My then bf (now hubby) asked to take pic on the katil.

  42. Wow...I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing the sweet story behind the recipe! Such an avid photographer, back then too!

  43. mott,
    It's not me who took these pics.. it was my then bf, now hubby.
    Thanks :)

  44. Wendy, what a good guess, hehe. Ya, working as a Pharmacist in hospital now :)

  45. Thanks for sharing your story, the pictures are definitely an eye-opener for me. Even though I grew up in Penang, but I've never been to other remote areas of Malaysia. :-P And of course, your fried chicken looks very yummy too!

  46. Min,
    It's easy to guess because other gov positions are not that popular among the Chinese :)

    I'm glad I could show you other parts of Malaysia.

  47. Hi Wendy,

    Thats a very lovely experience that youy have shared. Feels heart-warming after reading it and it opens up my horizons, getting to know a piece of how rural life is like. I bet the students, colleagues, environment, food, activities are all etched in your memories....

    Other than cakes, I cant resist chicken too, yummy yummy. I have bookmarked this recipe. Maybe I will do a baked version of it using chicken thigh instead. Thanks for sharing the recipe =]

    cheers and happy baking/cooking

  48. Bakertan,
    This is only one side of the picture.
    Sometimes it's not this rosy.
    I just happen to be in a good community :)

    I hope you enjoy the chicken thighs later :)

  49. How wonderful to read about your past! I love this post.... it is so very interesting to find out more about you.. plus the chicken looks divine!

  50. Megan,
    Glad you enjoyed reading it.

  51. hi! this is my secondary school, i live in selancar 2... and yes its remote hehehe...

  52. Hi Wendy,

    How about the Guru Besar of SMPJ, En Raub?
    Are happy life in there?

  53. mamn,
    Sorry, I have no idea, I have left this school in 2004.

  54. Hi Wendy,

    a) I mean, time u teaching in there, who the guru besar?
    b) Can u tell more about selancar / smpj? because u lived there 2 years. many experiences.

    Thank You

  55. mamn,
    1. the pengetua was Sheikh I forgot the rest of his name.
    2. what do u want to know? I am always stuck in quarters, I don't know much.

  56. hi wendy,

    a)I want to know (your life in Selancar) or (your life teaching in SMPJ)?
    b)Do u have gone Selancar 01? my parent's house in there.


  57. mamn,
    The write up above does tell of my life there and my teaching there. I don't know how specific you want it to be. Sorry but that's all.
    I have only been to the clinic in Selancar 1, other than that nope.

  58. Nice story you have there in Selancar. I wonder if Ustaz Latif and Sir Shafie was still at SMKPJ :)

  59. Mohamad Azlan,
    I don't know as I am away from the school for 8 years.


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