Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng IMG_4512

This is Irene’s recipe for Indonesian Fried Rice, learnt from her mother, who grew up in the Dutch East Indies. In Indonesia it was eaten for breakfast, but it is great comfort food at any time of day. Apparently, the Dutch started using bacon to provide fat to fry the onions after the war when it was hard to get oil. In colonial days pork was more regularly eaten in Indonesia, which is no longer the case, as it is now a more strictly Muslim country. Nasi Goreng turns leftover rice into a delicious new meal, and is an economical way to feed a crowd. We recently served it for brunch with Begedel Djagung (sweetcorn patties), crunchy Thai Cashew Salad and steamed tenderstem broccoli and sugar snaps – a great success.

Nasi Goreng can largely be  prepared in advance, making it very convenient for entertaining. To turn it into a more substantial meal you can add prawns, shredded omelette, or cooked chicken or pork to it, or serve it with Tomato and Prawn Curry or Babi Ketjap (pork with sweet soy sauce). If you haven’t got any leftover rice, cook the basmati rice in advance (see How to Cook Perfect Rice). These quantities are for 3 to 4 (depending on what you’re serving it with).

120g smoked bacon lardons or pancetta
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 ‘thumbs’ of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
scant ¼ tsp ground cumin
rounded ½ tsp ground coriander
Knife point of fish paste
½ tsp Sambal Badjak Extra Heet (optional)
1 egg
salt and pepper
240g basmati rice, cooked

Optional toppings:
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 cm cumcumber diced or chopped into logs
thin omelette, made from 1 egg, rolled and sliced
cooked and shredded chicken or pork

Heat a large frying pan (preferably non-stick) over fairly high heat (7 on my cooker). When pan is hot add the bacon, turn heat down to 6 and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is starting to colour and any moisture has evaporated. Meanwhile prepare the garlic (here I’ve used this handy little dish with sharp ridges which quickly reduce the garlic to a paste), chilli and ginger.
Add the chopped onion, turn the heat down a bit more (to 5 or 4) and let it cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft and golden – about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chilli, fish paste, cumin and coriander, and cook gently for about 5 minutes – it is important that these ingredients are cooked properly before you go on to the next step. If using, add the Sambal Badjak at this stage – it is not essential, but adds a deeper chilli note and a bit of colour. Break the egg into the pan and stir it in, as if you were scrambling it, so that you get strands of cooked white and cooked yolk through the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. You can prepare this in advance and set it aside at this point.


When you are ready to eat, heat the bacon mixture over medium heat, add the cooked rice, stir together thoroughly and garnish with chopped spring onion and other toppings as required.




Today we served the nasi goreng for lunch with Tomato and Prawn Curry, sugar snaps, and a garnish of chopped cucumber and a bit of coriander (though the latter is most unorthodox, I’m told).

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