Nasi Goreng: Malaysian Fried Rice

nasi goreng

Every year, Stacie and I, in teams with our summer campers lead a fried rice cook-off and every year, I “somehow” seem to lose.  I always blame the judges and their “lame” palates and tastebuds, but maybe, just maybe Stacie is better at making fried rice. 🙂

This nasi goreng is a pretty simple, but quite a delicious and satisfying dish.  It takes a Chinese classic and spices it up a little bit.  The magic of this Malaysian-style fried rice lies in the flavorful base, a spice paste of chiles, garlic and shallots.  Leftover rice usually works best as it is drier and fries up better. This dish is a great vehicle for other leftovers as well – you can add leftover chicken, other cooked meats, leftover vegetables and tofu as well.  It is a bit of a spicier dish, but you can adjust the amount of chilli or use milder chillies.  Or frankly as your kids get older, have them try some spicy dishes (raising the spice level as time passes) – constant exposure will get them eating dishes with more spices/chilli in them.

You can add almost anything to your fried rice, but the steps to making almost any type of fried rice are pretty standard, Malaysian or otherwise.  Below are the basics for making fried rice (adapted from Fine Cooking) – learn them and then let your imagination run wild.  Some people like to cook the egg separately and then mix it in.  We are partial to topping our rice with a sunny side up egg.

Step 1: Cook the aromatics – think ginger, garlic, shallots, chilies, lemongrass etc.

Step 2: Add the raw proteins

Step 3: Add long cooking vegetables and condiments

Step 4: Add cooked rice

Step 5: Add seasonings and quick-cooking vegetables

Step 6: Top with garnishes of choice – fried egg, chopped scallions, crispy fried shallots, sliced cucumber, thinly sliced fresh chiles, sambal oelek, homemade Indonesian sambal

Nasi Goreng – as published in the San Jose Mercury

Serves 3- 4

  • 2-3 red chiles, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
  • 4 cups cooked rice

Garnishes: fried egg, chopped scallions, crispy fried shallots, sliced cucumber, thinly sliced fresh chiles, sambal oelek

1. Using a mini-chopper or blender, process the chiles, garlic and shallots with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to create a slightly chunky puree.

2. In a work or large saute pan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the spice paste; fry for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. If it sticks to the bottom or sides of pan (or begins to burn), add a tablespoon of water and scrape bottom and sides of pan with a wooden spoon to loosen.

3. Raise heat to high; add sambal oelek, chicken, peas, salt and pepper and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Again, add water a tablespoon at a time and scrape sides and bottom of pan if mixture begins to stick. Taste and adjust with additional salt, pepper or sambal oelek, as needed.

4. Add the cooked rice, breaking it up as you add it to the pan. Continue to stir-fry over high heat for another 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve hot with the garnishes of your choice.



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