Hello hello, here we are in the second edition of the So-Called Indonesian series. I cooked up an Indonesian staple, called Nasi Goreng, which translates to fried rice. You can find this ubiquitous dish and its many variations in all kinds of eateries in Indonesia, starting from street food stalls to high-end restaurants, in urban metropolitans to whatever secluded tiny island kitchen in the Indonesian archipelago.
At its most basic, nasi goreng is almost always served with sliced cucumbers and/or tomatoes, kerupuk (prawn crackers) and sambal. Indonesians eat it any time of the day, including at breakfast and at the 3am post-clubbing Jakarta street food stall.
At my parents’, during our London days, we’d often have nasi goreng for Sunday brunch. Our Sunday nasi goreng ritual happened because usually on Saturdays my mother would make some kind of roast chicken, and we’d always have the leftover chicken and rice. This leftover chicken and rice would then be recycled into bubur ayam (a rice porridge with ginger and shredded chicken) by my mother, or into nasi goreng by my sister.
Nasi goreng is easier and faster to make than bubur ayam, so a new ritual was born! My sister’s version includes leftover roast chicken, shredded into the rice mix, and sliced Indonesian meatballs. I don’t know what else she puts in it, and she refuses to tell me, but really, it’s one of the best nasi goreng I’ve had! I worked on Saturday nights, so would wake up later than everyone else, crawl downstairs and this delicious nasi goreng would be waiting for me : )
This recipe we used from Saveur serves up one of the most basic fried rice recipes, which comprises of rice, plus the bumbu or base spices, a fried sunny-side up egg and cucumber slices. Popular variations include:
- Nasi Goreng Kambing: with tender pieces of marinated lamb.
- Nasi Goreng Pete: with the addition of stinkbean.
- Nasi Goreng Ikan Asin: with the addition of anchovies/salty dried fish, similar to the Portuguese bacalhau.
- Nasi Goreng Jawa: with the sambal mixed in
- Sometimes nasi goreng is served with telur dadar (omelette) instead of a fried egg
Today, on an F1 Grand Prix Sunday, as the handsome-and-talented husband is drinking beer and cheering on Max Verstappen, I carried on to make nasi goreng for our Sunday lunch. The handsome-and-talented one is a nasi goreng connoisseur, I have to admit, after being dragged all over Indonesia; it’s his go-to dish and he was looking forward to trying this out.
Here we go!
Indonesian Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng) by Saveur, first published on their site on September 6, 2012 and the original recipe is here: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Classic-Indonesian-Fried-Rice.
A couple of things:
- Make sure you have aluminium foil to toast the terasi (shrimp paste). When heated, terasi emits a really strong smell, more pungent than the Thai fish sauce smell. The Saveur way of toasting the terasi is brilliant, as it keeps the smell to a minimum.
- The Saveur recipe mentions palm sugar in the intro, but uses dark brown sugar in the actual recipe. Since I always have gula Jawa (palm sugar), I used that. They come in discs, so I used about half a disc and crushed it.
Ingredients you need for 4 people
1 tsp. terasi
1 tbsp. crushed gula Jawa, roughly half a disc
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red Holland chiles, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
1⁄4 cup peanut oil
Kosher salt, to taste
5 cups cooked white rice
4 1⁄2 tsp. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce): I used Ketjap Kaki Tiga brand, their Ketjap Manis Medja which falls in the middle of the Indonesian kecap manis spectrum for sweetness, so not too sweet
2 small cucumbers, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise diagonally, for serving
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
Make the flavouring paste
Wrap the terasi in the aluminium foil. Heat up a frying pan, no oil, on high. Once hot, place the wrapped terasi on the pan. Leave for 1 minute, then turn off fire. Then flip over using tongs or chopsticks. Let cool, then unwrap. If you unwrap while still hot, it’ll stink up your kitchen; most Indonesians love this, me not so much.
In a blender, add the palm sugar, garlic, shallots, chillies, cooled toasted terasi and 2 tablespoons water. Blitz on high till smooth. Set aside.
Make the eggs
I fry the eggs one by one, and I break my egg into a small bowl first, to avoid splashing hot oil. Heat up the oil in a frying pan. When the oil starts to smoke, pour in 1 unbroken egg. Take off the fire, but keep it on the still-hot stovetop. In 2 minutes, the egg will have cooked through and you can scoop this up with a spatula. Place on a plate, and do the other eggs.
Fry the rice
Use the leftover oil from the egg frying. Heat the oil over high fire with the flavouring paste until fragrant, then turn down the fire, and add the rice. Break up any clumps and stir to coat the rice evenly with the paste. Add the kecap manis. Stir fry till mixed.
Divide over four plates, serve with cucumber and tomato slices, and the fried egg. Maybe sprinkle slices of spring onions or the ubiquitous Indonesian fried onions on top.
Pretty good! Good start to the series, I’d say. The handsome-and-talented husband loved it! I’d say this one is delicious AND authentic : )
A yummy Sunday lunch! See you in the next one!