We had this dish a lot when I lived back home in Malaysia. I have a vague recollection of my Mum referring to it as Ah Mah’s (‘Grandmother’s) recipe. It’s a chicken stir fry with sweet, sour, salty and chilli hot elements. I’m not sure how this dish derived its name, but it’s nothing like tempura, a Japanese dish of deep fried foods. I reproduce it here from memory. I’ll be seeing my Ah Mah at the end of March, and will ask her how she used to make it. She’s turning 90 and is getting fragile, but I have every faith that she’ll remember how to cook this. I hope so, anyway.

This version is quite easy to make and kid friendly with an adjustment. The Little Miss (she’s 4 AND A HALF) had 2 helpings! Enjoy.


Chicken Tempra

Serves 2-3


500g chicken thigh fillets

1 Tahitian lime

30g deep fried shallots (available at the Asian section of supermarkets)

1 tbs sugar

2 tbs sweet soy sauce

2 tbs light soy sauce

3-4 chillies, optional

1/2 cup water

1 tbs corn flour mixed in 1/4 water

Oil for stir frying


Zest and juice the lime

Dice chicken into bite size pieces

Slice chillies, if using. If you’d like it less hot, just use whole chillies

Heat oil in a large pan or a wok, to very hot, then add chicken

Once the chicken is mostly cooked, add onions, sugar, soy sauces, lime juice, zest and water.

Allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes to soften the onions and for the chicken to cook through **

 Stir the chillies in with the chicken, if you are using them, and then add the cornflour and water mix. Stir until the sauce thickens.

Serve with rice and a side dish of stir fried greens.

**At this stage, when the chicken is cooked through, I remove a small serve of the chicken to aside for the Little Miss. I also add frozen peas straight into her serve, which she likes. The peas quickly thaw in the stir fry, and stir fry also cools down and is easier for her to manage. I  stir rice through before serving.