Ever heard of Nasi Goreng, the popular Indonesian fried rice? Indonesian food has been under the radar in America and is finally getting more attention. More Indonesian pop-ups and small eateries are opening up across the nation and more people are trying the cuisine that is known for it’s (complex) layers of flavors and exotic ingredients. The mission is to make Indonesian food more accessible in the U.S. and the best way to do that is to focus on a menu that many inquiring palates will recognize and come back to. Nasi Goreng is in the Top 5 Indonesian dishes.
Nasi Goreng, is the popular national dish of Indonesia and means fried rice. This one-pot meal originated from frying up the previous day’s leftovers. In Indonesian households, nasi goreng is often eaten for breakfast but can be enjoyed throughout the day as a main meal or for example as part of an elaborate buffet style dinner party. In the Netherlands nasi goreng is considered a culinary inheritance of the Dutch East Indies and often served for dinner. On top you often find a fried egg sunny side up, in Indonesian called ‘mata’ sapi’ – cow’s eye. Some call it ‘telor ceplok’ – and the word ceplok is considered an ‘onomatopoeia‘ [on-uh-ma-tuh-pee–uh] – a name given to mimic the sound made when the yolk and whites hit the pan.
The origin of the dish and the customs around it can be traced back to the Chinese immigrants who settled in the archipelago since the era of Majapahit around the 15th century. In their culture it is considered a taboo to throw away uneaten foodstuffs
I like my nasi goreng best stir fried long enough until it gets this light crispy textured coating, the way my dad taught me how to eat it. For that you need rice that had time to dry – leftovers refrigerated overnight. I advise not to use freshly cooked rice as it will not fry up right – it will be too moist and soft.
Compared to Asian counterparts the Indonesian version contains ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce) and is often preferred stronger and spicier. Served with krupuk udang (shrimp crackers), fried shallots and some sliced cucumbers and tomatoes on the side.
Let’s get cooking!
8 ounces beef OR 7 ounces canned corned beef OR leftover meat from a previous meal
2 medium onions, minced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed OR 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoons leek or spring onions, chopped
½ tablespoon celery leaves, chopped
2 teaspoon fried terasi (shrimp paste), diluted with 4 tablespoons hot water
½ beef stock cube
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
½ tablespoon ketjap manis
2 cups cooked rice
salt to taste (start with a pinch)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon bawang goreng (fried onions)
1 cucumber (run a fork along the length to score the peel, then slice thinly)
1 fried egg
1 tomato, sliced
- Cut the corned beef or other meat into small cubes and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok and sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent.
- Return the meat to the pan, along with the leek and celery leaves, and cook until the mixture looks somewhat dry. Add the diluted terasi, stock cube, sambal, ketjap.
- Add the dry, cooked rice (preferably from the day before), and continue scooping until everything is mixed together well.
- Stir-fry over medium-high heat for approximately 6 minutes. Add salt and sugar to taste to balance the flavors.
- Plating: fill a small sized bowl with fried rice and flip it upside down onto the center of the plate.
- Arrange the cucumber with the tomato along the side. Lay the fried egg (tjeplok) on top. Sprinkle fried onions over it.
Serve with krupuk udang (shrimp crackers) and sambal oelek (chili sauce).
TIP: Omit meat and schrimp paste and krupuk for a vegetarian version.