A Bowlful of Pongteh Chicken to Warm the Soul

Credit: Gerald Lee

With my busy schedule, I love when I have a long, uninterrupted weekend all by myself. The serenity I felt as I spent quiet Saturday mornings with a book or tending to my garden is just the break I need from the hustle and bustle of work.

During this short reprieve, I’d like to make hearty, soulful food, mostly my childhood favourites that never fail to bring back memories of a noisy dining table accompanied with the occasional clicking of chopsticks against a bowlful of rice as we all sat as a family and enjoying the humble fare our mom has made.

One of my personal favourites is the classic nyonya dish, the Pong Teh.

What’s a Pong Teh?

Pong teh is a braised meat dish, cooked with potatoes in a gravy consisting of fermented bean paste, gula melaka and soy sauce. It is said that the word ‘pong’ is acually a Hokkien word which is pronounced as ‘hong’ that basically means, ‘stewing in soy sauce’.

The dish is can be eaten at any time of the year. It tastes even better after keeping it overnigh since the potatoes will be very flavourful after sitting for ours in a surprising combination of fermented bean paste and palm sugar gravy.

Can you just imagine of looking at a hot plate of white steamed rice, flooded with gravy and tender almost falling off the bones chicken meat and the potatoes taste so good after absorbing the fermented bean paste and palm sugar? It’s like a spoonful of comfort goodness that you just can’t get with any food..

This dish is best served with white rice and sambal belacan or some freshly cut chillies in soy sauce. Try it now and taste the magic yourself.


  • 4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and 2 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 6 tablespoons of oil to fry the potatoes first and save 3 tbs of oil to fry the rest of the ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons of salted tauchu, fermented bean sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of gula melaka or palm sugar, chopped
  • 1/2 chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 small Yukons peeled and cut into large pieces
  • Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced to half each
  • Chestnuts, boiled and peeled
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • salt to taste


  1. Mince shallots and garlic. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil at medium heat and fry the potatoes till golden brown. Set aside.
  3. Discard some oil and leave 3 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan. saute the shallots and garlic paste and fry for about 2 minutes. Make sure the paste doesn’t burn.
  4. Add in the tauchu paste.
  5. Add in the mushrooms and fry for another 1 minute.
  6. Add in the chicken and fry for 2 minutes
  7. Add in the potatoes and 3 cups of water. Bring the broth to a boil.
  8. Add in the palm sugar, soy sauce, dark black sauce, salt & pepper to taste
  9. Add in the chestnuts.
  10. When the water boils, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
  11. Garnish the dish with some chopped spring onions or cilantro.
  12. Serve it hot with steamed rice and sambal or fresh chili padi.

An Unforgottable Classic

Love more classic dishes like this one? I have many other Nyonya and Chinese heritage recipes, do let me know what you are looking for by leaving a comment down below. Like me to surprise you, then keep checking Butterkicap regularly for more exciting dishes from me.

Any questions about this dish can be asked directly on my Instagram page, @justinescakesandkueh and do follow Butterkicap’sInstagram and Facebook pages for more recipe updates!

Justine Lim

With love for the freshest and natural ingredients, Justine Lim aspires to recreate heritage Malaysian recipes into modern, elegant-looking delicacies. Catch more of her delicious creations on her Instagram profile, @justinescakesnkueh

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