If you want a hearty, flavorful and aromatic stew, why not cook a Nyonya dish called Pongteh. I don't know what Pongteh means. There is the Chicken Pongteh (Ayam Pongteh) and the Pork Pongteh (Babi Pongteh). I did a chicken and pork combination because I could not make up my mind as to which I should cook. We have a similar dish in Terengganu which combines chicken and pork. That I will share in a future post.
I cooked my first Pongteh a couple of years ago and if I remembered correctly, one of the ingredients is corriander powder. I have since lost that recipe and my search for the Pongteh ended with a recipe by Ms Debbie Teoh which appeared in Kuali. This recipe calls for chicken and pork and it was perfect for me. The first thing that pleases you when cooking the Pongteh is the aroma which emanates throughout your kitchen when you saute the shallot, garlic and preserved bean paste. It is indeed a very appetising smell. I prefer to keep the Pongteh overnight as I find that the flavours deepen with time.
Ms Debbie Teoh's recipe is reproduced below with my modifications in red.
Pongteh (Recipe by Ms Debbie Teoh)
- 600g chicken (I used 2 chicken legs cut into bite sizes)
- 600g pork belly (1 used 1 strip of pork belly)
- 6 tablespoons cooking oil
- 400g shallot paste (from about 40 shallots)(I used about 30)
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste (from 6 cloves garlic)(I used 3 big cloves)
- 2 tablespoons preserved bean paste (tau cheo)
- 10 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and quartered (I left them whole)
- 800-1000ml water
- 3 potatoes, peeled and quartered (I used 6 potatoes to avoid fighting at the table)
- 250g yambean (jicama), cut as desired (I omitted this)
- 80g palm sugar (gula Melaka) or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste (I omitted because the tau cheo was salty enough)
- Cut the chicken into pieces; cut the pork into 2cm thick slices.
- Heat oil to saute the shallot and garlic paste until fragrant, stirring continuously. Add teh bean paste and fry until oil starts to separate. (I blended the shallot, garlic and tau cheo together and then saute)
- Add the pork if using and fry for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and water, and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes before adding chicken. Continue simmering until chicken and pork and tender, adding the potatoes and yambean half way through. (I added the potatoes at the same time as the chicken)
- Add more water if gravy becomes too thick. Season to taste with sugar and salt. Serve with sambal belacan.
Pongteh tastes better the next day when the flavours are infused into the meat.