Soto Ayam With Bergedel — Whip It UP!

Soto Ayam With Bergedel (Spicy Chicken Soup With Potato Patty).  Photos: Geraldine Chee.

By Geraldine Chee

Soto Ayam is comfort food. It’s a classic Malay speciality comprising compressed rice cubes or noodles served in a nourishing soup gilded with turmeric and made fragrant with dry spices. It’s best enjoyed with bergedel and sambal kicap.

Total Time: 4¼ hours (includes 2 hours for rice to set)
Cost: $20.00
Difficulty: 3/5
Serves: 4-6 persons

A: Rempah (Spice Paste)

2 medium white onions, peeled and roughly chopped
Thumb size ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 lemongrass, white portion only, sliced
Thumb size galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ tablespoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
Pinch of white pepper
6 tablespoons sunflower oil

Spices to boost flavour.

B:  Soup Base

1 litre water
6 kaffir lime leaves
5 star anises
5 cloves
5 cardamom pods
2 chicken cubes
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
600gm chicken fillet, skinless
Salt to taste

C:  Bergedel (Potato Patties)

800g (approx. 4) baking potatoes*, peeled and boiled
Coriander leaves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten in a shallow plate
Sunflower oil for frying

bergedel shaping-soto ayam
Shaping bergedel and deep frying them makes for a crispy coating.


D: Nasi Impit (Compressed Rice Cakes)**

400g jasmine rice
1 litre water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 pandan leaves, washed and tied in a knot
Bread loaf tin (H6cm x W11cm x D21 cm)
Cling film


E: Sambal Kicap (Chilli Condiment)

8 bird’s eye chilli, sliced finely
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
50ml dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 lemon, extract 2 tablespoons juice

Kicap Manis
Perk up your bowl of soto ayam with this hot accompaniment.


F: Garnish

Coriander leaves, finely chopped
Red cut chilli, optional
Fried shallots


1. Rempah: Heat oil in a deep saucepan over low heat. Fry rempah until fragrant, about 5 minutes, until it turns crimson.

2. Soup Base: Pour in water to make stock. Add remaining B ingredients. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Remove chicken, let it cool down. Shred and set it aside.

3. Bergedel: Using a fork, mash cooked potatoes roughly; it doesn’t need to be smooth (see technique). Toss in a handful of chopped coriander. Using your hands, shape potatoes into round palm-sized balls and flatten slightly. Coat them with beaten eggs.


bergedel sotoayam
Beaten egg coating enhances the flavour of patties when deep-fried.


4. Heat up sunflower oil over medium heat. Deep fry for about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown

5. Sambal Kicap: In a small mixing bowl, mix all E ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Set it aside.

6. Nasi Impit/Compressed Rice: Combine rice, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook on high heat until water boils. Reduce heat to low. Cook another 12 minutes. Note that rice will be slightly wet. Line tin with cling film. Using a slotted spoon, press cooked rice into base of tin. If spoon becomes too sticky from the rice, coat it with some water.

7. Cover tin with cling film. At this stage, the rice is too hot to handle – do exercise caution. Place a tea towel on top of it. Press down to compress rice. After pressing, let rice cool down – this is nasi impit.


Nasi Impit
Chilling compressed rice makes it easier to cut.


8. Refrigerate compressed rice for at least 2 hours or overnight. Cut into cubes, using a wet knife, so that rice will not stick to the blade.

9. To assemble, divide rice cubes between 4-6 bowls. Add chicken meat, bean sprouts,  bergedel and herbs. Using a ladle, scoop soup into bowl to 2/3 full. Garnish with F  ingredients.


Fried Shallots
Every bowl of soto ayam should be garnished with fried shallots.


10. Serve soto ayam immediately with sambal kicap.


This one-dish bowl is best enjoyed a la minute at home.


*TIP:  Rice cubes can be substituted with rice vermicelli and/or fresh yellow noodles, approximately 80-100g per portion.


**TECHNIQUE:  Use a starchy variety of potato e.g. Russet or Desiree. The higher starch content (as compared with waxy potatoes) is better suited for salads and yields light and fluffy patties. Peel potatoes and cook them whole in cold water, bringing it up to a boiling point. Do not cut potato – it absorbs too much water and this dilutes the potato flavour. Also, don’t make it too smooth – over-mashing ruptures starch granules which results in a sticky, gluey mash, making it difficult to shape.


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