If you go into any warung, restaurant or kitchen in Indonesia, you will find a version of fried rice, Nasi Goreng. Each area has subtle differences in the way they make the dish and families hand down their special tweaks to their Nasi Goreng. In Indonesian “nasi” means rice and “goreng” means fried.
The dish probably had its origins in China, where any leftover rice was fried together with leftover vegetables or meat and seasoned with soy sauce, so that nothing was wasted.
I first made Nasi Goreng in Lovina in Bali at a cooking class with Wayan from Warung Wayan w.w. After going to the local market early in the morning we went back to the Warung to cook.
Wayan taught me the difference between Nasi Goreng – fried rice – and Mei Goreng – friend noodles, quite similar bases, but different tastes. Also it is a lighter Nasi Goreng full of vegetable and packed with flavour.
Nasi goreng is quick to make and finished off with a fried egg on top, so the yolk oozes into the rice. A vegetable nasi goreng is a perfect vegetarian dish or if you omit the egg, a vegan one.
Unfamiliar Ingredients in Nasi Goreng
Like a lot of recipes from foreign countries, there are ingredients you may not have used before.
Kachup Manis – sweet soy sauce
To give the rice a rich brown colour and a depth of flavour you add kacup manis which is sweet soy sauce. It has a thicker consistency to normal soy sauce.
Most supermarkets now stock kecap manis, but if you can make your own by combining equal measures of brown sugar and soy sauce and simmer it down until it has thickened.
Sesame oil adds a lovely nuttiness to any dish taste, and is generally available in supermarkets.
Cold Cooked Rice
Okay, this is not an unfamiliar ingredient, but the nasi goreng taste so much better if the rice is not freshly cooked but cold. For me, I find that the soy sauces coat is better and get right into the grain but when I have used freshly cooked rice, it just doesn’t taste as good and it can be a bit “wet”.
To get perfect carrot batons, cut the carrots at a 45-degree angle, then stack the slices and cut them into strips and hey presto, carrot matchsticks!
Nasi Goreng – Indonesian Fried Rice
- Chopping Board
- Wok or large frying pan
- Small frying pan
- 1 ½ tbsp Sesame Oil
- 2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 1 – 2 small Red Chillies (optional) finely chopped – add more or less to your taste
- 2 medium Carrots sliced and made into battons – see instructions
- 100 grams Cabbage chopped
- 3 – 4 Spring Onions (scallions/green onions) finely chopped
- 100 grams Basmati Rice pre-cooked
- 2 tbsp Kecap Manis note 1 sweet soy sauce
- 2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
Optional Extras – Chicken
- 150 grams chicken breast note 2 chopped into bites-sized pieces
Optional Extras – Prawns
- 150 grams prawns note 2 shelled and with heads removed
Optional Extras – choose some or none
- 100 grams broccolli note 3 split into small florets
- 100 grams cauliflower split into small florets
- 50 grams fine green beans cut into bite-sized pieces
Garnish (optional – choose one, some or none)
- 4 Eggs fried and sunnyside up
- 1 tomato cut into chunks
- ⅓ cucumber sliced
- ½ white onion sliced and fried until golden
- Heat the oil in the wok on high and add the garlic and chillies (if using) until softened, about 30 seconds.
- Add the carrots note 4 , cabbage, spring onions, any other vegetables and soy sauces and mix well.You can add in uncooked chicken pieces if you are using it. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice, kecap manis and mix well. At this point add uncooked prawns if you are using them.Keep stirring until the rice, vegetables and any additions are coated in the kecap manis.
- While the rice is finishing its final stages, fry the eggs in a separate pan so that the yokes are still runny and the edges are just beggining to crisp.
- Put a mound of the nasi goreng on your plate, garnish with a selection of the above garnishes and top with a fried egg and serve.
- Kecap Manis is sweet soy sauce which is thicker than usual. You should be able to buy it at your local supermarket, a Chinese specialist shop or on Amazon.
- You can add meat or seafood to the dish, or both
- Feel free to add in any leftover vegetables that you have, maybe mangetout, baby corn or pak choi. I find that root vegetables like potato don’t work quite as well.
- When chopping my carrots, I cut them at a light angle, then stack them and cut them into batons.
- If you omit the chicken/seafood and egg, this is a great vegan dish.
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Larch has had wanderlust all her life, travelling as much as she can whenever she can. Now in her 50’s, she writes about her adventures on her travel blog The Silver Nomad to encourage travellers of all ages to look at different destinations. In early 2019, she qualified as a CAA PfCO Drone Pilot and now travels with her DJI Mavic Pro and Mavic Mini to capture aerial videos and photos to enhance her work.