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Indonesian chicken in sweet soy sauce/ Ayam Kecap

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The first time of so many

This Ayam Kecap (chicken in sweet soy sauce) has been my go-to Indonesian dish for years now. It’s always a hit whenever I cook it for family and friends. And it’s so easy to cook as well.

An oval dish of sweet soy chicken

The first time I made this Ayam Kecap was when I invited my extended family for lunch years ago.

I had no experience of cooking let alone the skill to cook good food. So, I didn’t know what to cook when I invited my sisters in law and their daughters to come around for Indonesian food.

Before the marriage, I hardly cooked proper Indonesian food. If not never. There was no need for me to do so. Because my mom is the best cook when it comes to traditional food. On top of that, I was quite busy with work and its commutation. By the time I got home from work, it would be late dinner time. So the excuses just built up 😉.

So, I tried to ask my mom for some good recipes, but most of the good stuff is difficult to find its ingredients. Since I just moved to the UK, I didn’t know if and where I can get the ingredients.

But thankfully, I did bring Indonesian sweet soy sauce with me when I came. So, my brain decided to just get along with what I have and the rest that I could find at the local supermarket and shop.

I decided to make chicken in sweet soy sauce!

It’s a dish that I like. And it’s fairly simple to make yet delicious to taste. I even tweaked some ingredients and cooking methods in order to simplify even more.

Easy menu to cook

In the end, for the lunch menu on that day I managed to lay the followings on the table:

  • Ayam Kecap (chicken in sweet soy sauce)
  • Perkedel Jagung (sweetcorn fritters)
  • Gado-Gado (mixed vegetables salad with peanut sauce)
  • Kroket Kentang (potato croquette with meat filling) – starter
  • Kolak Candil Ubi (sweet potato balls in coconut milk) – dessert

Since that day, my Ayam Kecap…. Soy Chicken as my nieces and nephews call it has become one of the favorite menus in my extended family. Not only that, whenever I cooked this soy chicken for my friends, it became favorite as well.

So, try this. And tell me your verdict 😘

A tasty and easy to make recipe of sweet soy chicken. Rooted from my mom's recipe, this Indonesian Ayam Kecap will be your next favourite stir-fry chicken dish

Useful tips

Preparing your chicken

I understand that there are many advice and suggestion on how to prep your chicken. Here in the UK, we’re told not to wash raw chicken in order to prevent the risk of food poisoning.

But, I’m so used to watching my mom washing and cleaning every ingredient before she cooks. What I mean with cleaning is taking off all unnecessary fat, membrane, grizzle, etc. And then wash the poultry.

So, if like me, you prefer to wash your raw chicken too, make sure the area near the sink where you wash the chicken is clear.

Don’t put any cooking utensils or any tableware around the area. And make sure you clean and wipe the area with antibacterial wipes or spray when you’re done with washing your chicken. Then dry it properly with clean dry cloth or kitchen towel.

Marinade the chicken

Whether you decide to wash your chicken or not, the first thing you want to do after you cut your chicken, is to marinade it. Please choose whatever ingredients you prefer from the below choices. But don’t skip this marinade.

Because if you marinade the chicken with below ingredient options before cooking it, you will get a fresher taste of chicken that free from its smell.

I don’t know about you, but I find that chicken does smell too.

In Indonesia, the original and most traditional way to marinate chicken or fish is by using Tamarind paste and salt. You can get it in the form of paste, block or sauce.

You only need about 2-3 tablespoons of Tamarind juice, or sauce if you can get the ready-made tamarind sauce.

If you get tamarind block, and it is a bit hard and slightly dry, you can just cut it to an equal amount of 2-3 tbsp then soak it in 3-4 tbsp of hot water. Let the tamarind get softened and release its juice.

What you want is this tamarind juice and salt for the marinade.

You can also marinate the chicken with:

  • Lemon/lime juice with salt.
  • Ginger and garlic paste (or powder) with salt.
  • Garlic powder, ground pepper (black or white), with salt
A tasty and easy to make recipe of sweet soy chicken. Rooted from my mom's recipe, this Indonesian Ayam Kecap will be your next favourite stir-fry chicken dish

Piercing The Chicken

Another thing I would do whenever I marinade the chicken (beef, lamb or fish) is piercing it with a skewer or a fork. I do this before I cook for any type of dish.

This little trick is very useful to get the flavor into the meat. I’m so used to doing this that my sons can tell the difference if I skipped this step. They would complain that the chicken is bland.

Also, they’re not keen on having big pieces of chicken that other people or outside restaurants made. Because they find the meat is bland. Unlike mama’s chicken…..😊

Indonesian sweet soy sauce

Please try to get hold of a real Indonesian sweet soy sauce. If you can’t find at your local shops that sell Asian food ingredients, perhaps you want to get it online.

If you can’t get online either, you can substitute it with a mix of 1/4 cup of dark soy sauce with 3-4 tbsp dark brown sugar (dark muscovado sugar will be better). Mix it until all sugar dissolve.

Try not to use other sweet soy sauce though, i.e. non-Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Because the flavor will be totally different from how it should. 😆

Indonesian Chicken in Sweet Soy Sauce Recipe

Happy cooking this easy yet tasty chicken dish. You may want to cook other Indonesian side dishes that go well with Sweet Soy Chicken.

You can choose the above menu. Or you can have this chicken dish (Ayam Kecap) with stir-fry vegetables or with Sop Ayam (chicken and vegetable soup).

Having said that, plain hot rice with this Ayam Kecap is delish enough 😋.

Happy cooking and enjoy!

A tasty and easy to make recipe of sweet soy chicken. Rooted from my mom's recipe, this Indonesian Ayam Kecap will be your next favourite stir-fry chicken dish

Ayam Kecap

The best Indonesian chicken in sweet soy sauce that you can cook in no time
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indonesian
Keyword: ayam goreng kecap, chicken in soy sauce, chicken in sweet soy sauce, Soy chicken
Servings: 4 people
Author: Devy


  • wok or frying pan
  • chopping board
  • colander


  • 800 – 1000 gram Chicken boneless or with bones. Cut in pieces.
  • 3 – 4 tbsp Tamarind juice
  • 1 tsp Salt for marinade. And extra according to taste for your soy sauce.
  • 2 Onion medium size. Sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic Finely sliced
  • 1 – 2 Red or green chili Sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 tsp Coarse black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce see the tip to get its substitute
  • Cooking oil sunflower oil, vegetable oil, or coconut oil


  • Cut the chicken into pieces.
  • Marinade the chicken with tamarind juice and salt. Pierce the meat by using skewer or fork. Make sure you do all pieces so that the marinade will get absorbed well. Set aside. Ideally you want to leave the marinade for at least 30 minutes. But if you're in hurry, just make sure you pierce the poultry well. So, that it will absorb the flavor from the marinade well.
  • When you're ready to cook, get your wok/ frying pan ready and start deep-frying the chicken. If you use boneless chicken, it will normally takes about 12-15 minutes to deep-fry. If you use chicken with bone, it may take slightly longer. Around 20-25 minutes. Depending the cut size.
    Set aside.
  • Slice the onion then fry it in another wok/frying pan with 4-5 tbsp cooking oil until it's translucent. Add in the sliced garlic until both turned golden. Next, you add in the sliced chili. Fry about 3 minutes further.
  • Then, put the sweet soy sauce in the onion. Add in the black pepper and salt according to your taste. Cook further about 3-5 minutes until you see the sauce bubbling.
  • Lastly you add in the fried chicken. Stir until all the meat coated with soy sauce. If you want, you can put the lid on and let it cook further for about 5 minutes. Or just let it cook without lid.
  • Your "Ayam goreng kecap" is now ready for you to enjoy.
  • You can have it with plain white rice. Yumm.


  • I normally multi-task things to save time. So, I would prepare the chicken first. When, I start frying it, I will then get the sauce ready. Normally, the fried chicken will be ready at the same time the soy sauce ready.

Written by


Hi, I'm Devy. Relocating thousands of miles away from your homeland to a totally new place is exciting but it can be overwhelming too.