Bookmarked Recipes #35: Nasi Goreng
T is sick of hearing me grouse about SAVEUR magazine’s shorter and shorter articles. Of course, I expected it of January’s SAVEUR 100, No. 162. But I didn’t expect it of the recent Special Issue “A Day of Cooking” No. 165.
Normally I read each magazine cover to cover. But with No. 165, I just can’t do it. I’ve skimmed through almost all of the single paragraph entries, stopping momentarily to scoff at Pete Wells’ entry (remember his cheese sandwich diatribe?) Well, Pete, just as you didn’t really care to hear about bloggers’ cheese sandwiches, I really don’t care whether or not and why you add marmalade or jam to your breakfast oatmeal….
My go-to breakfast is steel-cut oatmeal. I think it will magically eat up and spit out all the cholesterol I ingest every night. I make it with lowfat buttermilk. When I don’t have buttermilk I use yogurt, but it makes me angry with myself. I add marmalade or jam if I’m feeling like the world owes me something.
– Pete Wells, SAVEUR Magazine No. 165, Special Issue: A Day of Cooking, May 2014
But silly me. I’m getting distracted from what we had for breakfast the other day. Naturally, everything is about me, me, me, so while what various people featured in SAVEUR Magazine had for breakfast might be dull as dishwater, what WE had for breakfast is entirely fascinating.
As it happens, we didn’t find the idea in SAVEUR’s special issue No. 165, but in an earlier special issue from October 2012, SAVEUR No. 150: 101 Classic Recipes.
In every part of the world where rice is a staple food, one finds fried rice: the leftovers of the previous night’s meal transformed. Of the many we’ve tasted, from those of China to Southeast Asia, our favorite is this Indonesian version—a simple breakfast dish, not at all like the too-much-of-a-good-thing fried rice so common in the United States, with its confetti of chopped ham and peas. For nasi goreng, leftover rice is stir-fried with a seasoning paste made from chiles, shrimp paste, and palm sugar, yielding a richly flavored dish that’s ridiculously delicious. With a fried egg on top, it becomes a meal.
– 100 Classic Recipes, Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice), SAVEUR No. 150
We didn’t think it would be too hard. In fact, we were sure we could get it at our local supermarket.
We jumped on our bicycles to get red chiles, shrimp paste and to go in search of kecap manis. T suddenly remembered that that’s what his brother A uses all the time when barbecuing. We’d have barbecued pork with rice that evening and the next morning, we’d try Nasi Goreng.
There were many many bottles of various Asian sauces at the supermarket. But zero bottles of kecap manis. We forged ahead towards ChinaTown. We finally managed to find a box of bottles of ABC brand but they were pretty dusty. It was a such a lovely day; we decided to head across the city to the big Asian Grocery store, T&T on the water front.
Total riding distance: 21.93km Aggravation rate: 8/10 – for much of the circuitous ride from road closure to road closure, I heard a chorus of “you can’t get there from here” echoing in what’s left of my mind.
But. When we got home, our spirits soared. We had shrimp paste; we had kecap manis!
Kecap manis is made from fermented black bean or soybean, flavoured with shallot, garlic, star anise, galangal, Indonesia bay leaves (salam leaves), lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and sweetened with coconut or palm sugar. Each kecap manis producer has its own secret recipe. Through my searching, some recipes call for lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, some don’t.
– Pepy Nasution, Kecap Manis, Indonesia Eats, September 2010
KECAP MANIS (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce) Made of soy sauce brewed with palm sugar, kecap manis (pronounced keh-CHOP mah-NEESE) possesses an enticing, sweet-salty taste. Banda’s cooks use it as a dipping sauce, a marinade, and, perhaps best of all, a flavoring in stews such as Ikan Bumbu Rujak. Of the numerous brands available in Southeast Asian markets, the finest is Cap Bango, from the Indonesian island of Java; its taste is exquisitely smoky.
– James Oseland, The Spice Islands Pantry SAVEUR No. 94, June/July 2006
Looking at the ingredients list on the bottle of Bango kecap manis we found at T&T: “Sugar, Water, salt, Black Soybean extract” – no shallots, garlic, star anise, galangal, bay leaves, lemon grass or kaffir lime leaves for them!
We tasted it and realized that we can probably make it ourselves. It’s essentially molasses and soy sauce (probably 2 parts molasses 1 part soy).
And smoky? Not really….
ABC brand (we chose to buy Bango because we liked picture on the label) had virtually the same ingredients as Bango. As I recall the only difference was that ABC had some added preservatives.
The weather is finally perfect for barbecuing. We combined the kecap manis with ginger, garlic and ground fennel seeds (to mimic star anise) to use as a marinade for pork shoulder. We made sure to make plenty of rice so there would be leftovers…. Dinner was delicious!
There are probably at least as many recipes for Nasi Goreng as there are Indonesian people. Some recipes call for chicken and shrimps. We decided to use shallots, garlic, ginger, red pepper, red chili peppers, green onions and egg. 50% of the people in our house planned to add soy sauce once the dish was done.
It takes very little time to prepare Nasi Goreng. Most of it is taken up by chopping the vegetables. Here’s what we did:
Nasi Goreng for Two
based on a recipe in SAVEUR No. 150
- good shot sunflower oil
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- 1 inch fresh ginger, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 Tbsp (or so) dried shrimp paste
- sweet red pepper, sliced thinly, to taste
- 2 eggs
- seasalt, to taste
- good shot cooked long grain white rice
- kecap manis, to taste
- 2 green onions, cut in coins, for garnish
- 4 red chiles, stemmed and cut in coins, for garnish
- soy sauce, for garnish (optional)
- Heat sunflower oil (SAVEUR Magazine calls for peanut oil) and begin cooking the vegetables, starting with the shallots, then adding ginger (another deviation from SAVEUR’s recipe) and garlic when the shallots are beginning to soften.
- Once the garlic is just starting to colour, quickly stir in shrimp paste – don’t freak out that the shrimp paste smells funky – and allow to cook for 2 or 3 minutes. (SAVEUR calls for an addition of brown sugar as well. We decided that kecap manis is already plenty sweet enough and chose to omit the brown sugar.)
- Stir in the red pepper – we used a quarter of a medium sized pepper (yet another deviation from SAVEUR’s recipe). Cook until al dente.
- After making a hole in the middle of the shallot mixture, crack an egg in to make an omelette. (We just couldn’t stop deviating from the SAVEUR recipe….) Once the omelette is cooked, stir in the cooked rice, coarsely chopping the omelette as you stir.
- Drizzle some kecap manis overtop and stir. Taste and add more kecap manis, if you like.
- Make a sunny-side-up egg in a small frying pan. (Note that 50% of our household is horrified by soft runny yolks and wants to run away squealing, face squinched up, whenever cooked eggs with runny yolks are presented.)
- Spoon the rice into heated bowls. Place the still shuddering sunny-side-up egg on top. Garnish both bowls with green onion and red chiles. Offer soy sauce to the freak who thinks there isn’t already plenty of soy sauce in the dish.
I love Nasi Goreng! We’ll definitely have it again. Hmmmm… maybe tomorrow?
After breakfast, when we looked at the photos, we realized that we had made an error with the garnishes. We had simply dumped the green onions and red chile coins all over each dish, effectively hiding the stunning (interpret that word as you like….) sunny-side-up egg from view. So we went to town with various image editors to majorly shop the images.
Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?!
Some time ago, Ruth (Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments) created this event to urge herself (and everyone else) to actually make the several recipes they have bookmarked in various books, magazines and internet pages. Jacqueline (Tinned Tomatoes) has taken over Bookmarked Recipes.
Please note that Jacqueline has requested that recipe submissions must be suitable for vegetarians.
I was going to enter Nasi Goreng this month. Alas, I cannot. I suddenly remembered that because it contains shrimp paste, it is not suitable for vegetarians.
For complete details on how to participate in Bookmarked Recipes, please read the following:
» we were craving rice
» fried rice (WTSIM…#15)
» nothing says “Happy New Year!” like paella
» mmmm, Red Rice! (WHB#344: annatto)
» Wild Rice Casserole
» Persian Rice (Tah Dig, “bottom of the rice”) – revisited (WHB#345: saffron)