if you ask hubs about his favorite pinoy dish, aristocrat’s java chicken will rank up there. well really, what he likes about the dish is the java sauce that goes with the dish. i think if he had his way, he would order the sauce as the entree and the chicken as the side. the sauce itself tastes something in between teriyaki sauce, kecap manis, or molasses with peanut-ty undertones.
aristocrat’s restaurant in manila invented the sauce. the filipino packaged goods brand, mama sita, makes a version that is sold throughout pinoy supermarkets at home and abroad. our friends on the west coast have located the sauce at their local ethnic grocery stores. hubs and i have yet to find the same sauce on the east coast.
a while back, i tried to make java sauce at home (attempt #1). hubs said that it came in quite close but wasn’t quite right. over the holidays, hubs got a hankering for java sauce again, and this time, i had him stand right next to the stove with me until his taste buds concurred that we were spot on. once we made the sauce, we had to make the chicken too and the rice. so there we were over the holidays, a million miles from his childhood memories, eating his favorite sauce dish with the proper chicken and rice condiments.
note: i’ve taken a few short-cuts here and there to make java chicken and java rice in a quick and easy sort of way.
Homemade Java Sauce
(makes about 2.5 cups)
|Roasted Peanuts||3/4 cup|
|Soy Sauce||1/2 cup (I used a pinoy brand, Swan)|
- Toast peanuts in oven and let them cool.
- Grind peanuts in a food processor until granular like brown sugar.
- Combine peanuts, 3/4 cup water, soy sauce and sugar in a small sauce pan. Mix till well combined.
- Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer until the sauce reaches the viscosity of ketchup or hoisin sauce.
- Pour the sauce over a mesh sieve to strain out larger peanut chunks.
- The sauce is typically served warm at the restaurant, although hubs will squeeze it on straight out of the fridge.
Homemade Java Chicken
|Chicken||3-4 lbs. I used chicken thighs with skin on.|
|Soy sauce||½ cup|
|Lime juice||2 tbsp|
|Garlic||2 tbsp, minced. I ran out of garlic and substituted with 1 whole shallot minced instead.|
- Wash and pat chicken dry.
- Place the chicken in a ziploc bag. Then pour soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and pepper into the sac. Agitate the sac and then leave in refrigerator to marinate overnight.
- The next day, place the marinated chicken on a rack over a tray to catch the juices, and roast at 425ºF for about 30 minutes. [The more authentic version calls on grilling the chicken over strong flames, but I haven’t got a flamin’ bbq grill in NYC].
Homemade Java Rice
|Canola Oil||2 tbsp|
|Saffron||A pinch. The authentic version uses annatto seeds, which is aka “the poor man’s saffron.” I didn’t have time to fetch the seeds in a pinoy market and instead used my stash of saffron. Using saffron is much easier than annatto seeds, which calls for heating them up in oil and then straining them out of the oil, before the oil alone can be used.|
|Long-grain rice||1 cup|
|Tomato sauce||1/3 cup|
|Water||1 2/3 cups|
- Being rather lazy, I cook my version of java rice entirely in my japanese rice cooker.
- Pour all the ingredients into the rice cooker, follow your machine’s instructions, and wah lah! a quick and easy way of making java rice will emerge.