In a bowl, marinate the chicken with salt. You can do this the night before and leave the meat in the fridge overnight. However, I usually just do it on the day of cooking and leave the chicken for an hour in its bowl on the kitchen counter to give it time to reach room temperature. It means that your cooking time will be reduced later.
While you’re waiting for the chicken to marinate, in a food processor or blender blitz the spice paste ingredients into a fine purée.
Toast the black and white peppercorns in a small frying pan (no oil is needed) over low heat until fragrant. Grind into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. (You can also use freshly ground pepper if you do not have whole peppercorns.)
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, warm up the oil and then add the blitzed spice paste and ground pepper powders. Fry until fragrant and the oil separates (which will take a maximum of 10 minutes).
Add the chicken, tomatoes, water and stalks of laksa leaf or mint. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, over low heat for 25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking. Add the coconut milk for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Taste and add more salt if desired. Remove the stalks of laksa leaf. To serve, garnish with herbs, red onion, chillies and a squeeze of lime juice.
You can use more laksa leaf if you prefer a more aromatic version. If you cannot find laksa leaves, use a small bunch of mint, stalks and all.
(Recipe reprinted from Sambal Shiok: The Malaysian Cookbook by Mindy Yin, Quadrille Publishing Ltd, 2021)
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