Nasi Goreng (often called simply "Nasi" by Dutch people ordering takeout food) is Indonesian fried rice. Nasi means rice, and goreng means fried (this long-time assumption of mine was confirmed by Billows in August 2002).

In Indonesia, Nasi Goreng is what is sometimes colloquially referred to as a "pajama dish"---i.e. something you might munge together in your pajamas using the leftovers from last night's rijsttafel, an elaborate assortment of dishes involving many fabulous dishes served over rice. You might even eat it for breakfast (hence the fried egg served on top?), but it would be terribly rude to serve it or any other pajama dish to a guest.

The only nasi goreng recipe I know is one of the least vegetarian dishes I can imagine, involving at least three different kinds of dead animal protein as well as egg. I would be very interested in hearing of vegetarian or vegan alternatives.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw rice, cooked and cooled, or the equivalent (think leftovers)
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 3/4 pound lean pork or chicken, cubed
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sambal, preferably sambal oelek
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon each laos, ketoembar (ground coriander seed), and trassi (shrimp paste). These Indonesian spices are optional if you're wussy about hot food.
  • 2 leeks, cut into rings
  • any veggies you have lying around that look good (optional but strongly recommended)
  • 1/2 cup baby shrimp, peeled (canned work, too)
  • 1 tablespoon ketjap or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery tips
  • 2 or 3 big handfuls of bean sprouts (optional)
  • eggs (at least as many as expected number of servings)
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 pickles, sliced, or atjar tjampoer
  • ham for garnish

Directions:

  1. If you don't have any cold leftover rice lying around, cook 2 cups of rice and let it cool.
  2. If you don't have any leftover cooked meat, heat oil and brown meat quickly over high heat.
  3. If you've got meat and rice ready to go, start here. Warm meat over high heat and add onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices. Sauté five minutes.
  4. Add leeks and veggies; sauté another five minutes
  5. Add cold rice and stirfry over high heat
  6. Add shrimp, ketjap/soy sauce, and celery greens. Heat through.
  7. If using bean sprouts, stir them into the mix at the last possible moment or serve on top, as with pad thai. The idea is for them to be crispy.
  8. Serve the nasi garnished with ham and with fried egg (sunny-side-up, over-easy, omelet, whatever you like), sliced pickles or atjar tjampoer on the side, and sambal to taste.

Notes:

  • This recipe makes around four servings, but it's really easy to expand into more by adding more veggies and rice.
  • Lots of people (including the authors of the cookbook I found the recipe this evolved from) recommend serving nasi with a cold beer. Personally, I can't stand beer, but don't let that spoil your enjoyment. Update, 21 April 2011: I have come around to this way of thinking, but it took me years, so I'll try not to be prescriptive and encourage you to take or leave this suggestion, whatever's best for you.
  • Another Indonesian delicacy that might enhance your nasi goreng experience is kroepoek. Try some today!
Well, just to remind people that with any dish you can find there will be multiple recipes, here's a couple more that I've got from different sources. In general, about the only constant you'll find with this dish is the rice - just about everything else will vary from one recipe to another.

It's interesting to note that while the name of the dish means fried rice, the rice is not always fried, just the other ingredients are, and then mixed in with the rice, depending on the exact recipe.

Also, notes on the rice. Use a long grain rice, and cook it either by the absorption method, or by steaming, to get the proper Indonesian rice for the dish. (For cooking long grain rice by the absorption method, standard is 4 cups water per 1 lb rice)

The first recipe is one I was just given by a friend from New Zealand, who grew up eating this dish. The recipe is exactly how it was given to her. She made it for me recently, and while I found it delicious, it seemed a bit bland - perhaps too much rice or something. I'm going to play around with it if I use this recipe, and I'll update what I have here with what I find.

Nasi Goreng (version 1)

2 lb long grain rice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cilantro (coriander)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp laos
3 oz shrimp
2 bay leaves
1 bunch green onions (spring onions), thinly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 medium onions, chopped
4 large eggs
1 lb pork, diced
3 large red chiles, chopped

Boil the rice, and leave to cool overnight. This is not totally necessary, but is highly recommended, as the rice will be less soft, and hold together btter for the dish.

Fry the pork and the shrimp (each seperately). If the shrimp is pre-cooked, just keep it aside.

Fry the onions mixed in with the garlic, chiles, cilantro, cumin, laos, brown sugar, bay leaves, and salt to taste, oil over medium heat. Fry until the onions are soft.

Add the port and shrimp, and fry the onions and meat for another 3 minutes.

Set heat to low, and mix the rice and meat/onion mix together. Stir until mixed well, and the rice is all brown in color from the seasonings, and it is all warmed well.

Lightly beat the eggs with a little water, pepper, and salt. Fry the mixture into a think omelette, and cut into small pieces, about 1 cm square.

When serving, garnish the nasi goreng with the omelette pieces and green onions. Serve with thinly sliced cucumber on the side, in a small dish.

The second recipe here comes from The Complete Asian Cookbook, and is similar, but with a few significant differences. (directions have been modified to avoid copyright issues)

Nasi Goreng (version 2)

3 eggs
salt and pepper
oil for frying
8 oz raw prawns
1 lb pork or lean beef steak
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried shrimp paste (trasi)
4 cups cold cooked rice
6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp onion flakes (Indonesian style)
1 green cucumber, thinly sliced

Beat the eggs, mixing salt and pepper to taste. Heat a little bit of oil in a frying pan, and using half of the eggs, make a thin omelette. Put on a plate to cool when finished (without folding), and use the other half to make a second omelette. When cooled, cut the omelettes into thin strips.

Shell and devein prawns, if necessary, and cut the beef or pork into thin strips or small cubes. Chop the onions up roughly, and put into a blender or food processor with the garlic and shrimp paste. Process into a paste. If you don't have a blender/processor, chop onions and garlic as fine as possible, dissolve the shrimp paste in a little hot water, and mix well.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan or wok, and fry up the blended ingredients. When cooked, add the meats, and fry until cooked through. Add a little more oil, about 2 tbsp, and then add in the rice and green onions, mixing well, until everything is thoroughly cooked and mixed. Add the soy sauce, and mix well.

Serve the rice the omelette strips, cucumber, and fried onion flakes on top.

Note that chicken can also be used without problem, and onions can always be replaced with shallots. Other vegetables can be added if desired.


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Nasi Goreng is readily available in almost all Indonesian and Malay restaurants, and most are probably quite appetizing. However, the best Nasi is often found not in a restaurant, but peddled by vendors on the street. These vendors push a cart up and down the street in search of hungry customers seeking a cheap and filling meal. The cart is armed with all necessary ingredients and hardware to prepare the simple rice dish. The vendor works his magic by tossing various spices, vegetables and meats into a wok, then mixing in the rice. After a few minutes dinner is served in the classic brown wax paper. For those with cast-iron stomachs, this is the only way to enjoy Nasi Goreng... but don't forget the sambal! Always with sambal.

Next street food writeup: Sate Ayam

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