Balinese or barbecue? Carl Clarke’s recipes for spicy chicken

Balinese or barbecue? Carl Clarke’s recipes for spicy chicken

These two dishes are perfect summer meals, whether cooked low and slow on a barbecue or in the oven. The spatchcocked chicken is very simple, with beautifully charred skin and a lip-smacking marinade; served with chilled, crunchy, smacked cucumbers, it’s the ideal lazy dish for a warm day. The Balinese chicken, meanwhile, requires a bit more work, but it’s well worth the extra time and effort. It creates an incredible flavour bomb of charred, rich coconut, fragrant, barbecued chicken, spice and sweetness. Served with sour tamarind pineapple and a spicy sambal, it’s a real summertime showstopper.

Spatchcocked chicken with soy, five-spice and molasses, and smacked cucumber salad (pictured top)
Prep 15 min
Marinate 1 hr+
Salt 3 hr+
Cook 1 hr
Serves 4-6

1 x 1-1½kg chicken, spatchcocked

For the marinade
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp groundnut oil
6 fat garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
3 heaped tbsp Chinese five-spice
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp dark molasses
1 tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)

For the smacked cucumber salad
1 cucumber
1 tbsp flaky sea salt
10g wakame seaweed (optional)
1 thumb-sized knob fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
25g caster sugar
50ml sesame oil
35ml light soy sauce
50ml rice-wine vinegar
1 pinch Korean chilli flakes, or to taste

Put all the marinade ingredients in a large, wide, shallow bowl and stir to combine. Cut a few slashes all over the skin of the chicken, then add to the bowl and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover the bowl and chill for at least an hour, and ideally overnight: turn the chicken in the marinade now and then, to make sure it stays well coated.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Bash the cucumber with a rolling pin, to break it up, then cut into jagged, uneven pieces. Put these in a colander, sprinkle over the salt and leave to steep at room temperature for at least three hours, though again overnight would be better.

Rinse off the salt and pat dry the cucumber pieces. Put the seaweed, if using, in a bowl, cover with cold water, then leave for 15 minutes, until rehydrated and plump. Put the ginger, garlic, sugar, sesame oil, soy and vinegar in a small bowl, whisk to dissolve the sugar, then add the chilli flakes.

Put the cucumber in a serving bowl, add the dressing and seaweed, toss to coat, then refrigerate.

Thirty minutes before you want to cook the chicken, take it out of the fridge and heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 (or light the barbecue). Put the chicken on a shallow oven tray and drizzle over some of the remaining marinade, so it’s well coated. Roast for 40-45 minutes (or cook on the cooler side of a barbecue), basting the chicken in the excess marinade every 15 minutes, until cooked through.

Carve and serve with the fridge-cold salad and perhaps some steamed rice.

Balinese barbecued chicken

Prep 20 min
Marinade Overnight
Cook 1 hr
Serves 4-6

1 x 1½kg chicken, jointed

For the marinade
100ml coconut or rapeseed oil
1 tsp belacan (shrimp paste)
6 Asian red shallots (or 3 regular shallots), peeled and roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, the pale part roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large mild red chilli, roughly chopped
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp kecap manis (or dark soy sauce; optional)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp brown sugar
1 x 400ml can coconut milk

For the spice paste
350g Asian (or regular) shallots, peeled and sliced
190g garlic, peeled and sliced
90g galangal, peeled and sliced
25g cashew nuts
190g fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
5 bird’s eyes chillies, finely sliced
30g palm sugar, chopped
3 stalks lemongrass, bruised
4 makrut lime leaves
1 tbsp salt

For the sambal belacan
10 red chillies, thinly sliced
1 tbsp belacan (shrimp paste)
1-1½ tsp palm sugar, to taste
2 tbsp lime juice

For the pickled pineapple
1 pineapple
1 tbsp chopped green or red chilli
2 tbsp sugar
120g cider or rice-wine vinegar
2 tbsp tamarind paste

First make the marinade. Combine the oil and shrimp paste in a bowl. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Put the shrimp paste mix on a small sheet of foil, wrap and roast for 15-20 minutes, until very fragrant. Put the hot paste in a blender with all the other marinade ingredients and blitz.

Put the chicken pieces in a wide bowl, pour the marinade over the top, toss to coat, then cover and chill for at least six hours (and ideally 24).

Peel the pineapple, rub it all over with salt and leave at room temperature for an hour. Rinse the pineapple under cold running water to remove the salt, then cut into quarters and remove the core. Put the chopped chilli, sugar and a tablespoon of salt in a bowl, and roll the pineapple quarters in the mix.

Put the vinegar and tamarind paste in a small saucepan, add 100ml water and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour this into a tall Kilner jar or similar and leave to cool. Add the pineapple quarters, then seal and chill overnight. The pineapple pickle will now keep in the fridge for up to three months.

About 30 minutes before you want to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge, strain off and discard the liquid from the bowl, then leave to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, put all the spice paste ingredients in a food processor and blitz smooth.

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Put the chicken in a deep roasting tray and rub all over with the spice paste. Roast for 30-40 minutes (or cook on the cooler side of a barbecue), until cooked through and with some charred edges around the sides of the skin.

Meanwhile, make the sambal belacan. Put a wok or pan on a low heat, then toast the shrimp paste, stirring, until aromatic. Scrape out into a mortar or food processor, add the chillies, palm sugar and lime juice, then grind or blitz to a coarse paste.

To serve, put the roast chicken pieces on a large platter and serve with the pickled pineapple, sambal and sticky rice or lettuce cups.