Nasi Goreng or "fried rice" in Indonesian is one of those classic rice dishes that inevitably reminds me of growing up and of being on holidays. A breakfast, lunch or dinner dish, it is an all in one dish delivering flavour in spades. This is my mother's version, full of flavour and perfect for pleasing fussy eaters!
Last month I was fortunate enough to take delivery of 60 Easter Buns. Sonoma Bakery had overbaked by 360 buns and cleverly, instead of wasting them, sought to distribute them. I suppose they bake in such large quantities that an overbake isn't a dozen, it's thirty dozen. I was happy to receive them as it was a Friday and I had a weekend ahead of seeing many people. I could divide them up for my family and friends and I warned friends that if I was seeing them they needn't buy any that week as they would be getting a packet.
We stored many of the buns for the time being in my parent's freezer. They have a fridge/freezer but I think a feature to many Chinese (and even Greek or Italian) households is the extra freezer - and please correct me if I am wrong on that. Although we don't have room in our apartment for a separate freezer, I often store random things in my parent's freezer - usually bread as Mr NQN goes on periodic gluten free strikes.
It's a freezer that while I was growing up held all of the necessary provisions. There was always several types of seafood, beef in several forms, chicken in several forms and bread. On weekends, my mother would buy meat in bulk and then package them up into several small freezer bags in meal sized portions. She would write the item, date and quantity on a fingernail sized piece of masking tape, stick it on the bag, tie it with a twister and it would all go in the freezer.
This meant that dishes like noodles and rice dishes like Nasi Goreng were always easy to make with ingredients to hand. Nasi Goreng was actually a request from Dear Reader @Kara_Mia on Instagram. She asked me if I had a good Nasi Goreng recipe. I knew my mother did - it's an Indonesian/Singaporean/ Malaysian rice dish and my dad luuurves rice. It's also one of those dishes that many familys have their own personal twist or flavours on.
The universal thing is that it is simple and easy to make taking about 30 minutes from beginning to end. It can actually be eaten at breakfast or any time of the day and my favourite is with a sunny faced egg on top. This version has both chicken and prawns/shrimp in it but you can add tofu or make it as simple or complicated as you want. As with all of my mother's recipes, don't let the long list of ingredients put you off. Put aside 15 minutes to gather all these bits and then the cooking is easy. And I promise all of these little bits add so much flavour to this classic dish that it is worth the effort.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have a standalone freezer? Is it because your family had one? Do you buy meat fresh or do you buy it in bulk and freeze it? And would you ever eat this for breakfast like they do in Indonesia?
My Mother's Nasi Goreng
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes four serves
- Oil for frying
- 200g/7ozs chicken breast, sliced thinly and cut into small pieces
- 100g/3.5ozs shelled prawns/shrimp, chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to season
- 1/2 teaspoon palm or regular sugar
- 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup finely chopped onion or golden shallots
- 2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 40g/1.41ozs. preserved shrimp reconstituted in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained
- 8 cups cold long grain rice (cooked from the day before, my dad cooked the wrong rice, oops! You want longer grain)
- 4-6 tablespoons kecap manis
- 1-2 large red chillies, thinly sliced
- Finely sliced green onions to serve
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced diagonally
*Preserved shrimp adds a distinctive seafood taste to this dish. It can be found at Indonesian grocery stores.
Step 1 - Season the chicken and prawns by mixing both with the 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch and mix until coated all over. Set aside. Heat the oil in the wok or frypan and cook the eggs sunny side up. Set aside.
Step 2 - Heat more oil and on medium to high heat fry the chicken and prawn mixture. Remove from the pan and put aside.
Step 3 - Add the onion, lemongrass, garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant. Add the rice breaking up any lumps. Drizzle the kecap manis on top to ensure an even distribution. Add more oil if necessary. Once the colour is consistent, return the chicken and prawn mixture to the wok and add some salt to taste. Add red chillies and green onions. Serve with the slices of cucumber on the side and the egg on top.