Chicken and noodles are a traditional American combination. But if the noodles are bean threads and the chief seasoning is sweet-tasting Indonesian soy sauce, the dish becomes Ayam Semur , a specialty of middle Java. Ayam is the Indonesian word for chicken, which in this recipe is cooked with potatoes, carrots and tomatoes in addition to the noodles. Nutmeg goes in too--an appropriate addition because this spice is native to Southeast Asia. The recipe comes from Mary Djie and her daughter, Hilde, who run Dewi, an Indonesian restaurant and shop in downtown Los Angeles. Hilde Djie explains that Javanese children love Ayam Semur because it is tender and easy to eat. Hot chiles spice much Indonesian food but not this mild dish; its sweetness is typical of Java, and one should not substitute salty Chinese-style soy sauce in the recipe because that would spoil the effect. Indonesians might serve Ayam Semur as part of a buffet including many foods, but simple accompaniments such as a green salad or sliced cucumbers are also appropriate. And for a variation, the same recipe can be prepared with liver, which is popular in Indonesia, or with beef.
JAVANESE STEWED CHICKEN (Ayam Semur) 1 3 1/2-pound chicken 2 tablespoons margarine 1 medium onion, chopped 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice 1/2 cup Indonesian soy sauce (kecap) 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 ounces bean threads