today is Jan 22, 2022

Ayam dabu-dabu is one of Manado's specialty dish, golden pan-fried chicken, served with a spicy tomato salsa.

Ayam dabu-dabu is one of Manado's specialty dish, golden pan-fried chicken, served with a spicy tomato salsa.

Dabu-dabu, or sambal dabu-dabu, is a fresh and fiery chili sauce from Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi. Made from tomatoes, chilies, shallots, and lime juice, this chili sauce is sure to whet up the appetite.

The ingredient lists sound a lot like those for salsa, no? I always wonder if there is any connection between Indonesian dabu-dabu and the Spanish salsa.

The Manado people serve this with grilled seafood, especially grilled fish, but it certainly works just as well with some pan-fried chicken breasts.

Ingredients for ayam dabu-dabu (pan-fried chicken with spicy tomato salsa): chicken breast, tomatoes, shallots, red chilies, lime, and cilantro (not shown).

Ingredients for ayam dabu-dabu (pan-fried chicken with spicy tomato salsa): chicken breast, tomatoes, shallots, red chilies, lime, and cilantro (not shown).

Ingredients for ayam dabu-dabu

1. Pan-fried chicken breast

To prepare pan-fried chicken breast, we will need skinless-boneless chicken breasts, salt, pepper, all-purpose flour, and olive oil.

TIPS: for a quick and easy meal, you can buy a rotisserie chicken and cut it into bite-size pieces.

2. Spicy tomato salsa (dabu-dabu)

For the salsa, we will need tomatoes, shallots, bird-eye chilies, lime, salt, sugar, and cilantro.

Calamansi (Indonesian: lemon cui, or jeruk kesturi) is a more common choice, but it is hard to get fresh calamansi in the US. You may spot frozen calamansi juice in your Asian grocery, but I think lime or lemon is an easier alternative.

Choose tomato varieties that are good for salsa. You want tomatoes with a firm flesh with little seeds. Roma tomatoes are widely available is one of the best choices for salsa. Feel free to add some cherry tomatoes or green tomatoes for a more colorful presentation.

Cilantro is not common in dabu-dabu, but I love them, and adding even just a couple of tablespoons of chopped cilantro makes the salsa more flavorful.

Golden brown pan-fried chicken breasts, served with spicy tomato salsa using tomatoes, shallots, chilies, lime, and cilantro.

Golden brown pan-fried chicken breasts, served with spicy tomato salsa using tomatoes, shallots, chilies, lime, and cilantro.

Step 1: Prepare dabu-dabu

Dabu-dabu is best when it is chilled. I always prepare the salsa first and let it chill in the fridge before frying chicken breasts.

Wash and dry tomatoes and lime, peel shallots and remove stems from bird-eye chilies. Cut tomatoes and shallots into dices, and cut chilies into thin slices.

Place tomatoes, shallots, and chilies in a mixing bowl, along with the lime zest, lime juice, and salt. Stir to mix, cover the bowl, and chill in the fridge.

If you are going to add cilantro to your salsa, add them right before serving so the leaves stay as fresh as possible and won’t wilt too much.

Prepare the spicy tomato salsa in advance and chill in the fridge. Fry chicken breasts and cut into thin slices, then serve with the salsa.

Prepare the spicy tomato salsa in advance and chill in the fridge. Fry chicken breasts and cut into thin slices, then serve with the salsa.

Step 2: Pan-fry chicken breasts

Sprinkle each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the chicken with all-purpose flour, and shake off excess all-purpose flour to get a crispy crust.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to the hot pan. Cook each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken breasts to a plate.

Rest pan-fried chicken breasts for 10 minutes, then cut into thin strips. Arrange chicken strips on a serving platter and serve with chilled dabu-dabu (spicy tomato salsa).