Caramelised chicken floss

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a side dish

Appears in

Delivering a serious umami punch, a little of this meat cooked to a texture of coarse cotton transforms a simple bowl of rice or makes a great side dish to an otherwise vegetarian meal. In Muslim majority Indonesia, beef floss is the most popular, though it can also be made from pork, chicken or tuna. Most people don’t make it at home nowadays, but my friend Dayu Putu still makes her mother’s recipe for her daughter, who proclaims it much better than any you can buy. She was kind enough to share it with me.


  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 small red Asian shallot, sliced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, seeds in or out, sliced
  • 1 cm (½ inch) turmeric or ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cm (½ inch) kencur (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark palm sugar (gula jawa), shaved
  • oil, for frying


Poach the chicken breast in simmering water for 15 minutes, or until cooked through - don’t worry about overcooking as that will be happening anyway soon enough. Leave to cool a little, then shred very finely to get a tangle of fibres.

Make a spice paste in a food processor or pestle and mortar, grinding together all the remaining ingredients. Mix the chicken with the spice paste to coat well.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan generously with a layer of oil and stir-fry the chicken mixture until everything is fragrant, dried out and well browned. Remove from the pan, leaving behind the excess oil, and lay out on paper towels to drain away any residual oiliness. Allow to cool, then tease into shreds once more.