Easy no-marinade caramelized garlic chicken leg

whole chicken leg

I used to nuke a lot of “Asian marinated drumsticks” when I was in high school in Christchurch, NZ. It’s sold at Countdown (one of the largest hypermarket chain) and I just put it in the microwave when I felt like a snack. I set it for 1 minute on high for each drumstick and it tasted really good…well, as far as microwave food can taste.

Now, I got thinking about that good ol’ comfort food that helped me through the cold winters and I decided to make my own version. The “Asian marinate” is nothing more than soy sauce and I reckon I could make a far better version. I managed to come out with a delectable dish – it’s so good I’m drooling as I write this. 😀

You will need:
Whole chicken leg
Dark sweet soy sauce
Light salty soy sauce
Sugar (a lot of it)

chicken leg

Chicken legs are an excellent cut for this dish. It has just enough of the fattier bits of the chicken for a whole meal. Now, when we cooked this for the first time we were both very hungry and didn’t feel like taking the time to marinate the chicken. That turned out to be an excellent decision. The no-marinade caramelized garlic chicken leg was born and here’s how it goes! 🙂

First, put the chicken leg inside the cooking pot and dump in the dark and light soy sauce. Add your 4 tablespoons (not teaspoons – tablespoons) of sugar and let the heat caramelize it for a bit.


Next, peel at least an entire bulb of garlic and put the cloves in whole. You need the entire chicken leg to be covered so add a bit of water if you need to. Let the chicken simmer in the pot for about 30 minutes.

simmering chicken leg

It’s now ready to serve! Just take out the chicken leg and pour a bit of the sauce on top of it. Remember to spoon out all the garlic, it tastes heavenly with it.

This method of cooking the chicken tastes even better than marinating it. The slow simmering process tenderizes and allows all the flavors to be absorbed into the chicken. It’s absolutely fabulous – sweet and garlicky. It goes really well with steamed rice and the sauce is to die for.

caramelized garlic chicken

Garlic fans would LOVE this. I can eat plates of rice with just the caramelized sauce and melt-in-your-mouth garlic cloves.

Just remember your breath mints after having this for dinner. smirk

Garlic stuffed ikan bulus (silver whiting)


Bulus is a fish that has become a staple in our kitchen. It’s commonly called silver whiting (sillago sihama) and it’s a wee little fish. The largest ones are not much bigger than a sausage. It’s easy to cook (always a plus point) but relatively expensive at RM 19.90 per kg.

Damn, I’m starting to sound domesticated aren’t I? Prices of fish indeed…

ikan bulus

Anyway, I say relatively because there are a lot of other species of fish like catfish, kerisi, gelama etc which comes in under the RM 10 price point and this is double that. It comes up to about RM 1 per (small) fish. However, what bulus (silver whiting) has in its favor is that most of its weight is fish meat – there’s no large head or bones to take up excess weight.

silver whiting

The flesh of ikan bulus is also sweet and has an almost silky texture so it’s worth the price premium. 🙂


Silver whiting is best served marinated and deep fried with corn flour. It’s also wise to ask the hypermarket people to descale and gut the fish so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Our marinate sauce:
Light soy sauce
McCormick Season-All salt
Heinz brown sauce

bulus marinate

Just marinate the bulus using the ingredients above (or change it depending on what you have in your kitchen cabinet) and sprinkle some finely chopped raw garlic on top. Leave this for about 30 minutes.

Anyway, have you noticed that all the garlic has disappeared in the photo below? No, we didn’t discard it, there’s a trick here that we use to make it taste better.

bulus corn flour

Stuff the raw chopped garlic into the (gutted) fish’s stomach right before you spoon the corn flour over the silver whiting. It’s a simple but neat touch that gives you a tasty surprise when you bite into it. 🙂

We use Brown & Polson corn flour (the ones that come in a rusty hued can) to coat the bulus. This is a product that goes back ages. I remember seeing cans of this in my grandma’s kitchen. Heh!

frying fish

Slide the garlic stuffed fish into hot boiling oil and flip it once in a while. It only takes 3 minutes to cook due to the size and with that amount of cooking time, it’ll be crunchy enough to eat whole – bones, head and tail.

garlic stuffed ikan bulus

It’s delicious!

The art of garlic

garlic main

Finely chopped garlic is usually a mainstay in banquet style Chinese
restaurants. I’ve recently been introduced to an unorthodox but
delectable method of extreme garlic consumption from a dining
companion. He is truly the undisputed sifu of garlic consumption – the
man eats bowlfuls of garlic and I don’t mean the sauce sized ones…I mean the soup sized ones.

garlic peanuts

The art of garlic consumption applies to the peanuts Chinese
restaurants serve when everyone is seated. Before I was enlightened by
the ways of the garlic, I used to eat the salted peanuts as is…just
like everyone else. I have discovered a innovative method of peanut
enjoyment via excessive garlic consumption and I’ve never looked back.
I feel that it’s my duty to pass on the gastronomic garlic kung fu
before all knowledge of this art is lost. 😉

garlic prep

The first thing to do is to fill the sauce bowl with garlic. The key
to a successful mixture is to pile the finely chopped garlic into the
sauce bowl. As a reference, please crosscheck the first picture with
this one. I took all that garlic. It should look like a mountain (or at
least a small hill) by the time you’re done.

garlic vinegar

The garlic mound should then be doused with vinegar. It’s the one of
the far right. Garlic mountains are always made with vinegar. Soy sauce
is a big no-no. Go with the vinegar love.

garlic soak

The next step is to soak (marinate) several peanuts in the garlic-vinegar concoction for at least several minutes.

garlic eat

The peanuts in garlic are ready to eat after that. It is extremely
essential that chopsticks are used. Each peanut should be scooped up
with an excessive amount of garlic and the whole portion should be
chewed thoroughly to allow the garlic flavors to propagate through the

Trust me, it’s good. I’m an extreme garlic convert now. 😉

garlic main course

It also helps to pass the time before the main courses arrive…

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