This sweet-savory and simple chicken dish is “die die must try!”
Marmite is one of those things that make people either wax lyrical or shudder in horror. This spread which is made from a concentrated yeast paste has a really strong smell and flavor. The Brits eat it with toast or bread. I have never eaten Marmite in that way. As a matter of fact, even though I’ve heard of Marmite and Bovril (another similar product) all my life, I have never eaten it until more recently.
And the only reason I’ve discovered it in the past few years is that it has become a common ingredient in Malaysian cooking. I remember having Marmite chicken the last time we were home in Malaysia about 4 years ago and then just recently, we ordered it again here in Kuching at a Chinese restaurant. Both times, the Marmite flavors were tempered with honey and other flavors to balance out the yeasty flavors. Somehow, the combination works in highlighting the chicken in a “cannot get enough of this” kind of way.
Jar of Marmite
So this last time when we ate it at the restaurant, I decided I would have to try to make Marmite chicken at home. This decision was easy for me to make because my kids wolfed down that dish and clamored for more. I figured why spend the money ordering it outside, when I could easily make it at home. It looked simple enough. After googling some recipes, I realized it was pretty easy.
So I set out to get myself a jar of Marmite. Then I gathered the rest of the ingredients I needed—some chicken breast, a little bit of vegetables to add color—carrots, peppers, celery and onions, and some other seasonings. I was good to go.
Spoonful of Marmite
Most of the recipes I looked up called for deep frying the chicken. Oh well…good thing I had made that resolution not to be afraid of deep frying! But honestly, I think a shallow pan fry would have been just as good.
As for the sauce ingredients, most recipes also called for maltose but I didn’t want to invest in yet one more ingredient that I would hardly use (the Marmite was my splurge already). So I improvised and managed to come up with this lovely and pretty tasty dish.
The only change I’d make is to add a little less Marmite—2 Tablespoons was just a little bit too potent. But you must not let this potent flavor dissuade you from trying it. Marmite in chicken, when used in just the right amount gives the chicken a subtle new character that is hard to explain but very addictive eats.
Marmite Chicken Recipe
adapted from the Star Online recipe by Amy Beh
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 a carrot, sliced thin
1/2 a bell pepper, cut into large dice
1 stalk celery, cut into large dice
1 Tbsp Marmite
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon
100 ml water
1. Season chicken with marinade and marinate for 1 hour.
2. Deep fry chicken in hot oil until browned. Remove from oil and drain.
3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and fry the vegetables until softened. Add the sauce ingredients and reduce until sauce is thickened.
4. Add the fried chicken to the pan and toss to coat. Dish out and serve with rice.
The combination of savory saltiness of the Marmite with the sweetness from the honey (and maltose if you have it) is just such a smart Chinese invention. Instead of sweet sour, this new dish brings in sweet savory which is just as good! Try it out and let me know if this is as good as the ubiquitous sweet sour dishes the Chinese are so popular for.