Ayam Pongteh – Nyonya Soy Braised Chicken # Shitake Mushroom


Katong Life’s ayam pongteh intrigued me and I had to make it. Now I’ve made it a couple of times and it has become a family favourite. It is quintisential nyonya combining Chinese ingredients like soy sauce and dried shitake mushrooms in a braised dish scented with cinnamon and clove. Katong Life’s recipe uses pork, another Chinese marker – Malaysian muslims do not eat pork. Chinese recipes feature  pork frequently. Having said this, the love of food in South-East Asia is a shared love, and it is easy for people to identify what is halal so friends of all races can share food and conviviality at the table.

Previous to my discovery of this recipe I was making a similiar braised soy dish using pork that was a bit like a Phillapino adobo. It has vinigar, kecap manis and soy and is flavoured with star anise. I posted it here. It is what Chinese cooking would call a red braised dish and we love that one too. There is something about this recipe that makes it even better than my soy pork. Maybe it’s the mushrooms, maybe the cloves. I use chicken, not pork in this one. Last time it was strips of breast meat. When I first made it I used chicken on the bone, skin-on. The family found it too rich and “fatty” and I switched over to either breast or thigh with the skin off.

This recipe delivers a rich, sweetish sauce. It needs plain steamed rice and a green vegetable to accompany it. The broccoli is cheap and lovely here at the moment so I just did a steamer full of that.

These strawberries are from Queensland and were only $1.96 a punnet from Woolworths. They were absolutely delicious! Sweet and red all the way through. I bought a few lychee to have too, but they weren’t so nice. I think they had been picked too young – they were sour. Pity, I was looking forward to them.

Here’s the recipe. All credit goes to katong Life, but as usual I’ve taken liberties and tweaked the recipe…  🙂


This quantity serves about 6

  • 600g chicken breast or thigh strips
  • about 15 dried shitake mushrooms soaked in boiling water for around 20 minutes. Cheap-as-chips, these are sold loose in the Asian grocers and as well as being delicious have purported health benefits.This bowl full cost about $2.oo

  • 6 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • a piece of ginger about as big as a man’s thumb – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola, sunflower or peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup kecap manis
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoon tauchu –  fermented bean paste. It’s sold in jars in the Asian grocers and tastes and looks a lot like black bean paste/sauce. This gives the dish that wonderful umami element; a delicious savoury sensation in the mouth known as the fifth member of the sweet, sour, salty, bitter flavour identifiers
  • I like to add 1 tablespoon of Guilan chilli sauce too, but this is optional.

Heat up the oil in your wok and fry the onion, garlic, ginger and spices until fragrant and light golden.

Add the chicken and fry until light golden.

Add the drained mushrooms.

Now add everything else and stir well.

Set the heat to simmer and pop the lid on for 30 minutes. Stir from time to time and if the sauce seems runny (it should be getting thick and sticky-like) leave the lid off so some of the liquid can evaporate.

Watch it carefully if you take the lid off. The sugar wants to catch and burn and the reducing of the liquid can happen very quickly.


9 thoughts on “Ayam Pongteh – Nyonya Soy Braised Chicken # Shitake Mushroom

  1. Hi! Its been a long time since we’ve caught up. Its nice of you to be able to accomodate to so many dieteray restrictions like, egg, nut, gluten free, halal, vegetarian, you’ve got it all!

    By the way, a lot of our halal meat comes from Australia, no one here knows how to make a decent halal sausage! I love the fresh Australian lamb and chicken sausages that my supermarket imports.

    I enjoy all ur recipes, in fact I think u cook Asian food much better than I do!

  2. Thank you happygrub, I love hearing from you 🙂 I hope all is well and work is cruising along smoothly.
    I have a volunteer at the moment who is a muslim Pakistani so I am loving talking to her about food and I am learning so much about halal food, and about securing it in areas where it can be scarce. They loved their recent trip to Sydney as the “fast food” shops they wanted to eat from were all halal – it’s a different story here in Adelaide.
    Thank you for your kind compliments. I always think your food looks absolutely gorgeous.

  3. Wow. When can I come over for dinner? Lots of good stuff here. Thanks for stopping by my place (Bitegeist) and for your kind words about my writing.

    The readings are infinitely more interesting this semester, aren’t they? The Rachel Laudan piece blew my mind. I wish I had written it. Couldn’t get to the VC this week, but I’m hopeful I’ll be there next week. Hope to “see” you there.


  4. Ooh that looks delish. You’ve got me wishing i had a bowl of white rice to go with all that gravy now, though it’s past midnight my time. Hope all’s well with you, sweetrosie 🙂

  5. Hi there, dear sweetrosie! 😀

    It’s been a while since I last visited, now that I’m back to my normal schedule :wink:, I have more time here at the blogs. 😆

    I will cook this tomorrow as the Chinese physician has told my husband to avoid eating pork, and so, I am looking for a variety of chicken and fish recipes. You make it look so yummy here and I have got to give it a try!

    Have a great week ahead!

    With love and hugs,

    choesf 😀

  6. Thank you ladies – I love getting your comments 🙂

    dear choesf – I have been a bit like you lately, other things keeping me away from my beloved blogs! I hope I can find a bit of a routine soon. If only I didn’t have to do the whole flickr thing with my photos I could do more posts 😦 – it takes me FOREVER…

    hey ovenhaven! you’re pretty good with a camera, I need some tips to speed things up!
    Thank you for your kind words, I just love that soy chicken with the mushrooms – everyone here does, and rice is perfect with it, it’s real comfort food 🙂

    Hugs *~~~* to you both.

  7. Good morning, dear sweetrosie 😀

    I cooked Ayam Pongteh on Monday and it tasted delicious! This was the first time my family had it. I cook a similar dish with chicken, Shitake mushrooms, carrots, oyster sauce, thick soy sauce, soy sauce and garlic. 😉


    choesf 😀

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