Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Nasi Goreng

Brainstorming what lunch should be with a Dutch man and three Brits who have spent a large chunk of their lives in the Far East is going to land you somewhere delicious, inevitably. I should really have seen nasi goreng coming. 

Hugely popular in the Netherlands due to it's historical colonial ties with Indonesia, nasi goreng literally translates as 'fried rice' in Indonesian and Malay. Fried rice with soy sauce and a mixture of other delicious ingredients that turns it from a side dish into an utterly delicious entire meal. Most Indonesian households actually eat nasi goreng for breakfast as a way to use up the left over rice from the night before. Fried rice for breakfast? Genius.

I based my recipe on one found in a fantastic vintage copy of Charmaine Solomon's Asian Cookbook, with a couple of small tweaks to make it my own. Truly authentic, even using dried shrimp paste (don't leave it out, wimp), this recipe is to die for and will knock your socks off, Asian food lover or not. What a classic. 

Nasi Goreng

I've gone for a combination of prawns and chicken and topped with a crispy fried egg, which I think makes it absolutely divine. There is already a bit of egg in there so if you want to pass on the crispy fried egg, you may, but just know you'll be missing out.

Quantities: feeds 6

Timings: Including rice cooking & cooling: 1 hour 15 mins
Using left-over / pre-cooled rice: 30 minutes

Kitchen stuff: large non-stick wok, large non-stick frying pan

3 eggs (for omelette)
one egg per person (for frying)
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying
250g raw prawns (I used frozen)
500g chicken breast
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (trasi)
6 cups cold cooked basmati long grain rice (or 2 cups uncooked, see method below)
6 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp onion flakes (buy these pre-crispified)
2 tbsp light soy sauce (plus an extra splosh for the chicken)
1 cucumber, halved lengthways then thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 red chilli plus extra for garnish
a few sprigs of coriander, leaves picked



Ideally you have some leftover rice you're using, but if, like me, you want nasi goreng as a spur of the moment dish, you'll have to cook some rice on the spot and let it cool before stir frying. If the rice is too soft and hot, it won't give you the right results. Follow these instructions to cook the perfect, white fluffy rice. 

2 cups long grain basmati rice (serves about 6 people)
about 2.5 cups cold water (around 1 1/4 cup water to 1 cup rice)**

Use: Heavy based medium pan with a lid

**WATER LEVELS: Choose your pan size so the rice comes up to the first knuckle of your index finger. When it comes to cooking the rice, you want the water level to reach the second knuckle. 

1. WASH THE RICE: Add your rice to the pan. Pour in lots of cold water and swirl the rice with your hands. Carefully drain the water and repeat once or twice more. The water won't run clear but it will be less murky. This removes starchiness and helps the rice stay fluffy.

2. COOK: Add your water and turn the heat up high. Bring the rice to a boil, then lower the heat to medium so it simmers vigorously for about 7 minutes. Keep and eye on it so it doesn't burn on the bottom. Once the rice has small holes in the top and there is no water left (tilt the pan to check if there is still water at the bottom), cover with the lid and turn down the heat to low. Cook for a further 10 minutes. 
3. FLUFF: Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for a further 10 minutes. Remove the lid and use a fork to test the rice. It should be delightfully fluffy. Using your fork, separate the rice and carefully transfer to a wide plate to cool before cooking your nasi goreng. Cool for about 30-40 minutes whilst preparing your other ingredients.




1. OMELETTE: Beat your eggs with some salt and pepper to taste. Heat a tiny bit of oil in a large frying pan until hot (or your wok) and pour in half the beaten eggs. Swirl the egg around the pan to make a thin omelette. Carefully flip to cook the other side but do not fold it. Repeat with the remaining beaten eggs. 

When cool, put one omelette on top of the other, roll it up and slice into thin strips. Drag a knife down the middle of your slices to cut the strips into smaller pieces. 

2. CHICKEN AND PRAWNS: Defrost your prawns if using frozen by putting them in a sieve and running under cold water for a minute or two. Cut your chicken into small pieces. Put the chicken pieces into a small bowl and add a dash of light soy sauce.

3. PASTE: Roughly chop your onions and red chilli and put in blender with the garlic and shrimp paste (trasi). Blend to a paste.

If you don't have a blender, finely chop the onions, crush the garlic and dissolve the shrimp paste in a little hot water. Combine these ingredients well in a small bowl. 

4. NASI GORENG: Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a large wok or a frying pan. When hot, fry the paste until cooked, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly. After 2-3 minutes when the chicken is nearly cooked, add the prawns and continue stirring until all cooked through. 

Add two tablespoons more oil, when hot stir in the rice and the sliced spring onions. Continue tossing and mixing together until all combined and very hot. Sprinkle over the 2 tbsp soy sauce and mix evenly. Stir in the omelette strips and top with sliced red chili and coriander leaves. 

5. CRISPY FRIED EGGS: Remove the rice from the heat and replace with a large non-stick frying pan with a good amount of oil in the bottom (about 4-5 tablespoons). Heat the oil until hot but not smoking and crack in the fried eggs, one per person. The whites will bubble beautifully, but be careful as the oil may spit. Spoon a little of the hot oil onto the whites of the egg, avoiding the yolk.

Cook the eggs in batches until the whites are crispy at the edge and just cooked through, with a runny yolk. Transfer to a plate. 

6: PRESENTATION: Serve each bowl of rice topped with coriander leaves, sliced red chili (if desired), onion flakes and a crispy fried egg with some cucumber strips. Utterly delicious.