Nasi Goreng literally translates as ‘fried rice’ in Indonesian and Malay. It is different to other fried rice dishes due to the aromatic flavour of kecap manis, shrimp paste and chillies. The combination of these ingredients makes it more stronger and spicier than Chinese fried rice. Most of all I love that it is garnished with cucumber, tomatoes, crispy fried shallots and the occasional fried egg.
Which is probably why Nasi Goreng is popular not only just in Indonesia but all over the world. As in 2011, CNN reader’s choice voted it their 2nd most favourite dish.
Kecap manis is an Indonesian/Malaysian sweet soy sauce. It is widely available in the UK and can be bought in most of the major supermarkets like Waitrose and Tesco.
Shrimp paste is known as belacan in Indonesian. It is made from fermented ground shrimps with salt. The smell can be quite overbearing and will make you run a mile. However, when you add a little bit to a dish it makes the dish quite savoury.
Between the 10th – 15th century many Chinese merchants decided to settle in Java and Sumatra and marry the native women. It was the Chinese that introduced the Indonesian to the fried rice as previously they would use the leftover rice to make rice crackers. It is not clear when the Indonesian adopted the fried rice and created their own version. The Chinese influence on Indonesian cuisine can be seen in many dishes such as cap cai and mee goring.
There is no single recipe for Nasi Goreng. It seems to be quite an adaptable dish as you can add any meat or vegetables that you like. Also, it depends on which region of Indonesia you are from as each one has their own version. I have seen this dish being made with oyster sauce and sometimes fish sauce.
Many people may get the impression that making fried rice can be a bit of a pain. As you usually have to use rice that is a day old. But you can cook the rice on the same day and let it cool for 2 hours before you make it.
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- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 shallots
- 1 Thai red chilli
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
- 10 jumbo prawns/shrimp
- 1 chicken breast (bite-sized)
- 2 cups of cooked rice
- 2 spring onions (sliced) (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg (optional)
- crispy fried shallot (optional)
- Add the garlic cloves, shallots, chilli and shrimp paste to a mortar and pound the ingredients together until it forms a paste.
- Add the oil to the Wok and fry the paste for a minute
- Add the bite-sized chicken pieces and prawns and stir-fry until the meat is cooked.
- Add the cooked rice and stir for a few more minutes
- Add the Kecap Manis and pinch of salt and mix it all in.
- Add the spring onions (optional)
- Add the fried egg on top (optional)
02. The cooked rice doesn't need to be a day old. You can use rice that you cooked on the day as long as it is left to cool down for at least 2 hours.
03. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces of around 1.5 cm so that it cooks quicker.
04. Make sure you have everything ready before you start to stir-fy the ingredients
05. You can use a food processor to made the paste if you don't have a pestle and mortar.
The recipe is:
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