Hello everyone! Oh where did the days go; how is it that we’re already into the fifth month of 2021? Well, as you all know, a new month means we’re packing up and saying goodbye (for now) to the Philippines to venture on to our next country on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey.
Last year, I was looking forward to travelling to Indonesia, Bali to be exact, for the very first time. I had my itinerary all planned out, jam-packed with activities down to the last minute. I signed up for an authentic cooking class that included a market and Balinese rice terrace tour. All of that was unfortunately cancelled due to the global pandemic. Our family trip was supposed to be in early April of 2020, and by mid-March our country had already gone into a national enhanced community quarantine that is still being implemented to this present day. Yes, since the later part of 2020 did quarantine restrictions ease, but we’re nevertheless, still in quarantine.
Even if I haven’t had the chance to travel to Indonesia just yet, I’ve experienced authentic Indonesian cuisine almost on a weekly basis when I was living in Brunei. Every Saturday evening after attending anticipated mass, we (my Mom, my sister, and myself) would go to our favourite Indonesian restaurant and order our favourite dishes such as nasi goreng, ayam penyet, satay, and tahu telur to name a few. I even had Indonesian food regularly when I was living in Australia; one place in particular on Kensington street, near UNSW’s main campus, that I would line up for their delicious ayam or ikan bakar (grilled chicken/fish).
Tonight, I will be sharing a classic favourite, nasi goreng. Nasi Goreng is considered the national dish of Indonesia, and literally translates to fried rice . It is a rice dish cooked with meat or seafood, and vegetables, however, there is no single defined recipe for it. Its composition and preparation varies greatly from household to household in all regions where the dish is native to. The key distinction though to nasi goreng is its smoky aroma, from the wok hay* as it’s fried, and the caramelised yet savoury undertones of flavour from the kecap manis**.
The version of nasi goreng that I will be sharing tonight is actually called Nasi Goreng Santri, which is vegetarian fried rice. While there are no specific vegetables that you can use to make up an authentic Indonesian vegetarian fried rice, I decided to make mine with tofu and bean sprouts. Feel free to bulk it up with your choice of vegetables to your liking. You can’t skip the fried sunny side up egg as nasi goreng is traditionally served with it to make it a complete meal.
You also cannot serve nasi goreng without a sambal of some sort on the side. I decided to make a simple sambal oelek which is a raw Indonesian chilli paste made of red chillies, vinegar, and salt. The word sambal is an Indonesian word referring to a sauce made primarily with chili peppers, while oelek refers to a mortar and pestle. Therefore, sambal oelek is Indonesian for a chilli sauce ground with a mortar and pestle.
PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 4
For the nasi goreng
- 1 & 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
- 1 red onion, finely minced
- 1 stalk scallion (white part only), chopped
- 3 pcs firm tofu, fried and cut into cubes
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- Salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups cooked white rice, day old and cold
- 2 tbsp kecap manis
If you can’t find kecap manis at your local grocers, or don’t have any readily available in your pantry, you can simply make your own! Just combine 1/4 cup ordinary soy sauce and 1/4 cup brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it becomes maple syrup-like in consistency. As it cools, the mixture will thicken more.
For the sambal oelek
- 10 pcs red bird’s eye chillies, stems removed
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 & 1/2 tsp salt
To serve with
- Bok choy, blanched
- Crispy fried shallots/onions
- Sambal oelek
- Scallion (green parts), chopped
- Sunny side up egg
- Sambal Oelek: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the red chillies they start to break down. Make sure not to pound too much; leave the chillies a bit coarse, not a fine paste.
- Add the vinegar and salt, and using a spoon, mix together until the salt has dissolved. Transfer to a small serving bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
- Nasi Goreng: Add oil to a large pan over high heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and red chillies to the pan and sauté until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and scallions, continuing to sauté for a further 30 seconds.
- Add the fried tofu and sauté for about a minute or two before adding the bean sprouts. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Cook for a further minute or two.
- Add the cooked rice and mix well, breaking up any remaining clumps of rice. Add the kecap manis and cook, stirring constantly to ensure that every single grain of rice is coated with the sweet soy sauce and start to caramelise. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Once the rice is done, plate up and top with garnishes of choice, I went with crispy fried shallots/onions, and green scallions. Serve with the sambal oelek, blanched bok choy, and sunny side up egg***. Enjoy!
- *‘Wok hay’ is Cantonese phrase used to describe a particular essence and aroma that is created in a dish when authentic stir-frying is performed. ‘Hay’ means energy or breath; therefore, ‘wok hay’ means “the energy or breath of a wok”.
- **Kecap manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Compared to mildly salty regular soy sauce, the sweet soy sauce has a slightly thicker consistency, and tastes much sweeter.
- ***Omit the egg if you want to make this dish vegan-friendly.
– Ally xx