Vegan ayam goreng, Indonesian "fried chicken"

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As I sit here writing this, I have a small bowl of newly made ayam goreng (say: “EYE-ahm GO-reng” and roll the “r”; ayam = chicken, goreng = fried) next to me and am delightfully enjoying little tastings here and there. It’s so full of flavor and wonderfully addictive to eat plain on its own, although it’s best with freshly made hot jasmine rice and possibly a hit of spicy sambal on the side.

When making ayam goreng with actual meat, the chicken is cooked twice: first it’s simmered in a spice paste till cooked, and then it’s deep fried. Of course, since this is vegan, we’re taking a slightly varied route: instead of chicken, we’re using Lacey of Avocados and Ales recipe for chickwheat; instead of frying, we’re baking.

In reality, I know purists will say “this isn’t fried nor is it chicken” yet I’m completely okay with that. For me, the re-creation of cultural dishes and childhood memories means primarily caring about the taste, mouthfeel, and experience. Beyond that, it’s a complete bonus if I can get anything else close to the animal-based version.

With that in mind, let me tell you — this is pretty much the most legit version of vegan ayam goreng I’ve ever had. I’ve had vegan ayam goreng made with plant-based chicken before and, while it was always good, this version hits all the right notes and memories for me.

I’m obviously biased, but I don’t care :) Make this recipe ASAP!

Vegan Ayam Goreng, Indonesian “Fried Chicken”

Chickwheat recipe courtesy of Lacey of Avocados And Ales


    • 300-350 grams of a cooked bean (such as: 1 can of cooked chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed; or 1 brick of MoriNu extra firm tofu)
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or miso
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1.75 cups gluten flour (aka vital wheat gluten)
    • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 medium sized onion (approximately the size of 4 normal-sized shallots)
    • 1/8 cup raw cashews or plain macadamia nuts
    • 1.5 inch galangal, peeled & cut into large chunks
    • 1 inch ginger, peeled & cut into large chunks
    • 2 stalks lemongrass, white portion of stem chopped roughly & separated from the “green” part
    • 1 scant teaspoon turmeric (or 1-inch turmeric root, peeled & cut into large chunks)
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 batch of chickwheat, shredded
    • 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut milk (optional)
    • Salt, to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)
    • Mushroom seasoning, to taste (optional)
    • 1 large pinch of sugar (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)


    1. Using a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients from bean to salt until smooth.
    2. Pour into a large bowl and add gluten flour. Mix until all flour is picked up.
    3. Let sit for 15 minutes to hydrate the flour (optional).
    4. Split dough and only do half at a time: “knead” in a food processor (dough blade is ideal, regular sharp blade works perfectly fine) till the dough is warm, stretchy, and smooth. This take take up to 3-8 minutes for each half. (See recipe notes below for nuance and/or how to do this with a KitchenAid mixer or similar)
    5. While waiting for the dough to mix, add 2 cups of water to an Instant Pot pressure cooker and put the trivet inside.
    6. After both dough halves are ready, twist them together and wrap firmly in at least 2 layers of foil. (If avoiding foil, use parchment paper and cheesecloth.) Set the wrapped dough on the trivet in the Instant Pot, then cook for 2 hours on high pressure.
    7. When the time is up, you can immediately release the pressure. Pull out the dough, unwrap, and let cool for about 10 minutes so it’s easier to handle.
    8. Shred the chickwheat by hand and/or use a fork to help. Will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Can be frozen then microwaved when needed. (NOTE: before using in most dishes, especially in soups, I recommend dry frying it in a pan or microwaving it a bit longer so it dries out. If not, the chickwheat can become a bit “soggy”. If you’re moving on to making ayam goreng, then don’t bother with this.)
    1. Blend all of the following ingredients in a food processor: from garlic to coriander, including the lemongrass white stem roughly chopped. Add splashes of water to food processor (up to 1/4 cup) to help it blend more easily.
    2. Place this seasoning paste into a large wok/pan, along with the chickwheat, coconut milk (if using), the green portions of the lemongrass (it holds together better if able to knot them), salt, mushroom seasoning (if using), and large pinch of sugar. Gently turn to coat the chickwheat.
    3. Turn on heat till liquid is simmering, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes; occasionally gently turn the chickwheat. Remove lid and maintain simmer till runny liquid is gone with occasional gentle turning, 15+ minutes. (Can take a bit longer if you added a lot of water when making the paste or added a lot of coconut milk.)
    4. While waiting, preheat oven to 350º F and place parchment paper on a lipped baking sheet. When the runny liquid is gone, remove the lemongrass, place chickwheat on parchment paper, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn chickwheat, and repeat in 10-20 minute increments till you’re satisfied with the moisture/texture content. Usually takes 3-4 rounds to reach a consistency that I like.
    5. When done, serve with warm rice and, if you’re so lucky, some kind of sambal. Try to stop yourself from going for seconds and gladly fail.
    6. Will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Can easily freeze and microwave to warm up later.

Recipe Notes:

    • Type of bean. Yes, tofu is a bean. Yes, you can use black beans and your chickwheat will turn out looking more like beef. The mileage and experience may vary slightly though who cares, pick your bean of choice! The world is your oyster!
    • Vinegar. If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can use whatever “neutral” vinegar you’d like, such as apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. If you try something out of the ordinary like balsamic vinegar, let me know how it turns out :)
    • Gluten flour. If you’re truly allergic to gluten, then sorry, this recipe isn’t for you. Don’t know what can replace a protein that turns into rubbery strings the more you mix it…
    • If you use MoriNu tofu. I actually don’t even bother with a mixing bowl and blend everything in the food processor: first, all the ingredients from tofu to salt; second, I add the gluten flour and pulse till it’s mixed in. I don’t even split the dough like written above (that works better when using whole beans) and then start mixing the dough right away. It seems to come together faster when using MoriNu tofu, it takes only 3-5 minutes for me in the food processor.
    • Mixing the dough. Whenever I’ve used MoriNu tofu in the batch + mixed it in a food processor, the dough has crept up and under the blade and possibly into the machine >> BE CAREFUL, take more breaks in mixing and clean out the dough before it ruins your processor. If you want to use something like a KitchenAid mixer, you’ll want to set it on almost full power and it’ll take quite a bit longer (15 minutes?), yet you can do the whole batch at once. NOTE: with the large mixer, the dough only ever came together for me when I used the usual mixing paddle (i.e. the dough hook never worked for me).
    • How to tell when it’s done mixing. If you’ve never done this before, truly go by the description of “warm, stretchy, and smooth” to determine this. If it’s not there yet, let the dough mix longer. If you use MoriNu tofu, it’ll be more gummy than usual.
    • Galangal & ginger. Not sure what to tell you other than ya gotta get some galangal. Looks like really large ginger, much more fibrous and difficult to cut, smells and tastes nothing like ginger. As for the “cut into large chunks” comment, it’s so your food processor doesn’t struggle as much. No need to mince or dice it — let the machine do that for you!
    • Lemongrass. This is one of those required items, it must be fresh and it can’t be skipped. Asian stores will always sell the entire lemongrass as well as a few grocery stores. One store I went into recently did have fresh lemongrass, but it was prepackaged and just the “white stem” part. If that’s all you can find, that’ll do — just omit the “green leafy part” that’s mentioned in the recipe and it’ll still turn out fine.
    • Coriander. If you have whole coriander, the flavors will be deeper if you lightly toast the seeds in a dry pan and then throw them whole into the food processor. But since I’m lazy and/or barely ever have seeds on hand, roasted ground coriander from the start works out well for me.
    • Coconut milk. I think coconut milk is generally not used with ayam goreng recipes but does for some. Because I try to cook with as little processed oil as possible, the lack of this means it can have problems sticking to the pan. Instead, I use a little bit of coconut milk as the fat replacement. It’ll taste perfectly fine if you don’t use oil or coconut milk, though it’ll stick to your pan more as you cook it down.