Citizens, as promised we shall today take a final look at how a single dish of Indonesian fried rice, known as nasi goreng, has evolved and adapted across 1 archipelago (Indonesia), 1 Asian country (Malaysia) and 1 South American country (Suriname).
As previously noted, my recipe for Indonesian fried rice is the most shared recipe EVER here on TFD, with an earth-shattering 11,000+ shares across social media! The Malaysian version is a different take on the Indonesian original, as you shall note shortly! Of course, it is quite likely that nasi goreng’s origins are either Chinese (probable) or possibly Persian (less likely, but not to be eliminated!), both probably adapted from early medieval spice traders.
As noted by a Malaysian chef on egullet.org:
Nasi means ‘rice’ and goreng means ‘fried’ in both Indonesian and Malay language. I work in a restaurant in Malaysia and would like to share with you what ingredients we use here.
The influence of Chinese cooking method is quite significant here. Therefore, soy sauce, white pepper powder, oyster sauce are the primary seasoning. However, we add sambal (chili paste) during frying in order to give the signature flavor of nasi goreng. We also use the local vegetable called kangkong (water spinach) and ikan bilis (anchovy), which is indispensable in the recipe. Finally, cut two cili padi (bird’s eye chili) to fry the rice to enhance the spiciness.
So the key difference of nasi goreng versus Chinese fried rice is:
2. Bird’s eye chili
Malaysian nasi goreng had the same beginnings as other versions of fried rice; as a way to avoid wasting rice. Frying the rice could prevent the propagation of dangerous microbes, especially in pre-refrigeration technology Indonesia and also avoid the need to throw out precious food. Nasi goreng is traditionally served at home for breakfast and it is best made out of leftover rice from the night before.
Nasi goreng is a commonly popular household dish in Malaysia – it is also can be found in restaurants and food courts throughout the country.
There are an incredibly diverse number of variations of Malaysian nasi goreng, as noted below:
Nasi goreng ayam (fried rice usually served with crispy fried chicken with sweet chilli sauce)
Nasi goreng belacan (fried with leftover sambal belacan and fish or other meats)
Nasi goreng blackpepper (fried rice with chicken or beef in blackpepper sauce)
Nasi goreng cendawan (fried rice cooked with mushrooms)
Nasi goreng cili api/masak pedas (spicy fried rice served with chicken/beef)
Nasi goreng dabai (a Sarawak speciality which the rice is fried with a seasonal native fruit called ‘buah dabai’).
Nasi goreng daging/kambing (fried rice with beef or mutton)
Nasi goreng ikan masin (fried with salted fish)
Nasi goreng kampung (fried with anchovies/leftover fried fish, kangkong)
Nasi goreng kerabu (fried rice with local 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 white gravy)
Nasi goreng masak merah (fried rice with chicken or beef in chilli 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 in an omelette envelope, sometimes includes chicken)
Nasi goreng petai (fried rice cooked with parkia speciosa)
Nasi goreng seafood (fried with prawn, calamari slices and crab sticks)
Nasi goreng sotong (fried rice cooked with calamari)
Nasi goreng telur (fried rice served with fried eggs)
Nasi goreng tomyam (fried rice cooked in tomyum paste)
Nasi goreng udang (fried rice cooked with prawn)
Nasi goreng Amerika (with fried egg and stirred fried beef in chili sauce)
Nasi goreng USA (fried rice with three luxury meat and seafood ingredients)
Now, you might think that nasi goreng USA would be a celebration of U.S. ideals and ingredients – but you would be very wrong indeed (not everything in the world revolves around America, though we like to think so). In fact, ‘USA’ refers to the 3 protein ingredients found in the dish – in the Malaysian language, these are shrimp (udang), squid (sotong) and chicken (ayam).
Citizens, your Autocrat of the Authoritative () practically never compromises – but for one ingredient in this recipe, I will make a rare exception. Kangkong is a required ingredient in this Malaysian recipe and is known as water spinach in English – it’s delicious when cooked, but potentially dangerous served raw.
As such, I will instead call for regular spinach in its place, to avoid accidentally hurting my loyal followers. If, however, you are experienced cooking this vegetable and can find it in your local Asian supermarket, by all means use it!
Traditional Malaysian Nasi Goreng USA would also use some dried anchovy in the rice, but this pungent flavor and crunchy texture may be too much for non-Asians to endure. As such, I call for top-quality fish sauce in its place, I prefer this brand above all others! Oyster sauce is also a necessity in this recipe, so only use the best – in my humble opinion, this is it!
You will also need the hot southeast Asian chili paste known as sambal oelek, as well as my favorite brand of ketchup, and lastly my favorite chili paste with garlic. Malaysian cuisine is truly exemplary in its blending of ingredients and flavors, so try and stick to my recommended brands and ingredients, please!
Citizens, this is a truly savory and delicious fried rice, one that I hope you and yours will enjoy for many years to come! Try it with some delicious Malaysian tamarind pork belly and know the TRUE tastes of Malaysia on your dinner table!
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