Nasi goreng literally translates to fried rice in the Indonesian language. It’s darker and more boldly flavored that other Asian fried rice dishes. Why? The seasonings.
It’s as simple to cook as any fried rice dish but you simply have to have the right ingredients. Otherwise, you may have fried rice but not necessarily nasi goreng. See, instead of the usual salt and pepper, nasi goreng is seasoned with kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), sambal (chili paste) and tamarind paste.
And then, there’s shrimp (paste is more traditional but I used dried shrimps we bought in Japan as it is nearing its expiration date) which is sauteed with shallot, garlic and ginger until everything is soft and highly aromatic.
Chilies or chili paste is added and the sauteeing continues until the mixture acquires a lovely reddish color and the shallot bits are starting to turn a deep brown along the edges.
Only then is the rice added. And the kecap manis and tamarind paste go into the rice. Everything is tossed together until the rice is heated through.
Nasi goreng is also popular in Malaysia. If it were cooked in Malaysia, the onion, ginger, garlic and chilies would be ground to a paste, and sauteed until the solids separated from the oil before the rice is thrown in.
That’s as basic as it gets. But although the seasonings are what define nasi goreng, there is no singular recipe for it. Meat or seafood, vegetables and herbs, and more seasonings and spices can be added for variety.
What is served with nasi goreng varies too. Krupuk (or kerupuk) is popular; so is egg, fried sunny side up. The most common topping is bawang goreng (fried shallots).
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 shallots peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 half-inch piece ginger peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste or use finely chopped dried shrimps
- ½ teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sambal (chili paste)
- 2 cups cooked rice preferably cooked the day before
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis Indonesian sweet soy sauce (available in Asian groceries)
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste available in Asian groceries
- crispy fried shallots to garnish
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Saute the shallots, garlic and ginger until softened and aromatic.
- Add the shrimp paste and fish sauce. Continue sauteeing until the edges of the shallot bits are nicely browned.
- Turn up the heat and add the rice. Drizzle in the kecap manis and tamarind paste.
- Stir fry until the rice is heated through.
- Taste the nasi goreng and adjust the seasonings, if needed, before serving.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.