In 2011, CNN Travel readers voted for their 50 world’s most delicious foods. The first two dishes were two iconic Indonesian recipes. The most preferred food was a dish made with beef and ginger from Sumatra called rendang. The second favorite dish for the 35,000 people who voted was nasi goreng.
Satay, another Indonesian dish that we introduced you to, finished at #10. Other dishes on the list that we featured on 196 flavors include Vietnamese phô, “egg tart” attributed to Hong Kong but with the same origins as Portuguese pasteis de nata, Neapolitan pizza, brownie, or Korean bibimbap.
What is nasi goreng?
Nasi goreng can be considered the national dish, or at least one of Indonesian national dishes. Like many national dishes, there are as many versions of nasi goreng recipes as families in Indonesia. An authentic nasi goreng recipe (fried rice in Indonesian) should at the minimum include key ingredients like kecap manis, belacan or terasi (shrimp paste), shallots and garlic.
What is kecap manis?
Kecap manis is a typical Indonesian sweetened soy sauce. It can be prepared by reducing soy sauce and brown sugar until reaching a thick syrupy texture.
What is terasi?
Shrimp paste, also called terasi in Indonesian or belacan in Malay, is another emblematic ingredient of Indonesian cuisine. This paste is obtained by fermenting chopped sun-dried shrimp. It is never eaten raw but only used as a condiment in cooked preparations like nasi goreng.
For people who do not eat shrimp or shellfish, just know that this ingredient is mainly used to give the dish its reddish color, fishy taste but also its umami savory taste. Umami (pleasant savory taste in Japanese) is one of the 5 main flavors along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty flavors. You can replace the shrimp paste with red bell pepper, nuoc mam (fish sauce made with fermented anchovies) and monosodium glutamate or MSG.
What are the most popular versions of nasi goreng?
Nasi goreng kampung or countryside nasi goreng (fried with anchovies and leftover fried fish) is one of the most popular. However, there are a number of variants for this Indonesian fried rice, including:
– Nasi goreng ayam (fried rice served with crispy fried chicken with sweet chili sauce)
– Nasi goreng belacan (fried rice with leftover sambal belacan and fish or other meats)
– Nasi goreng black pepper (fried rice with chicken or beef in black pepper sauce)
– Nasi goreng cendawan (fried rice cooked with mushrooms)
– Nasi goreng cili api or masak pedas (spicy fried rice served with chicken/beef)
– Nasi goreng dabai (a Sarawak specialty where the rice is fried with buah dabai, a seasonal native fruit)
– Nasi goreng daging or kambing (fried rice with beef or goat)
– Nasi goreng ikan masin (fried with salted fish)
– Nasi goreng kampung (fried rice with anchovies/leftover fried fish, kangkong)
– Nasi goreng kerabu (fried rice with vegetables, herbs and salads)
– Nasi goreng kunyit (fried rice served with turmeric and meat with onions, long beans and carrots)
– Nasi goreng kari (fried rice cooked with curry)
– Nasi goreng ladna (fried rice cooked with seafood and vegetables in a white gravy)
– Nasi goreng masak merah (fried rice with chicken or beef in chili gravy)
– Nasi goreng mamak (Indian Muslim style nasi goreng)
– Nasi goreng nenas (fried rice cooked with pineapples)
– Nasi goreng paprik (fried rice served with paprik dish, usually chicken)
– Nasi goreng pattaya (fried rice wrapped in an omelette, that may include chicken)
– Nasi goreng petai (fried rice cooked with parkia speciosa, or stinky bean)
– Nasi goreng seafood (fried rice with prawn, calamari slices and crab sticks)
– Nasi goreng sotong (fried rice cooked with calamari)
– Nasi goreng telur (fried rice served with sunny-side up eggs)
– Nasi goreng tomyam (fried rice cooked in tom yum soup paste)
– Nasi goreng udang (fried rice cooked with prawn)
– Nasi goreng USA (fried rice with udang (prawn), sotong (squid) and ayam (chicken), which define the initials USA)
How to make nasi goreng?
A nasi goreng recipe is often prepared with chicken but can just as easily be made as a vegetarian dish. It is usually served with a fried or scrambled egg and accompanied by cucumber, tomato or lettuce. The fried shallots give a crispy texture to the dish, just like the prawn crackers (krupuk udang in Indonesian) it is usually served with. Yes, Indonesians love shrimps.
This nasi goreng recipe was quite a huge success at home, and it will surely become one of our favorite rice dishes. My friend Gaby came the next day to help us finish the leftovers and he seemed to love it too. You can take my word for it: make nasi goreng as soon as possible without any hesitation!
- 3 cups cooked long grain rice
- 10 shallots , divided
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (belacan or terasi)
- 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- 1 scallion , chopped
- ½ lb cabbage , shredded (or ½ lb chicken breast, fried and shredded)
- 1 red chili pepper
- 4 eggs (fried or scrambled)
- 1 tomato , sliced
- 1 cucumber , sliced
- Prawn crackers (krupuk udang)
- Deep fry 4 shallots, cut into very thin slices until slightly crisp, about 5-6 minutes.
- Set aside.
- Meanwhile, mix the 6 shallots, garlic, shrimp paste and chili in a food processor.
- Heat cooking oil over medium heat in a wok or large frying pan and fry the paste mixture for 2 minutes.
- Add the rice, kecap manis, soy sauce and palm sugar. Sauté everything over high heat for 6-7 minutes.
- Add scallion and cabbage or chicken. Mix well and continue to sauté for 2 minutes.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with fried shallots and accompanied with condiments such as sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, a fried or scrambled egg and prawn crackers.