This week in the series Dutch Indonesian food: nasi goreng, the most famous Indonesian dish of them all. First of all, what exactly is nasi goreng? Nasi means rice in Bahasa Indonesia, goreng means fried, so there you go, fried rice. But really, what is it?
As always it depends on who’s making it. There seem to be a lot of variations. Traditionally it’s a leftover meal: you avoid wasting your precious boiled rice, and you can chuck in whatever other ingredients you have left or lying around. Your aim is to use up rice from the previous day’s dinner as soon as possible, which means that nasi goreng is actually usually eaten as a breakfast dish. Best breakfast ever, if you ask me.
Story time! So at some point in the past, the Dutch embassy in Indonesia has a party, or a reception, or something or other that’s pretty official and to which a lot of pretty high-ranking individuals are invited. In order to make a good impression on their autoctonous counterparts, the Dutch officials decide to serve some typical Indonesian dishes – including nasi goreng, a breakfast dish. Imagine going to an embassy as a diplomat and being served rice krispies in milk. Unfortunately I can’t find any sources for this, other than my mother, who remembers reading this story in some newspaper or other in the 70s or something, but never mind that. Se non è vero, è ben trovato.
As for the nasi goreng my mum made, at home we always just called it ‘nasi’, because unlike for native speakers of bahasa indonesia, for us there was no need to differentiate it from any other rice, which we just called ‘rice’. My mum has a very specific preparation method, from which she rarely (if ever) diverts. Let’s have a shot at that one, and then we’ll compare it to what we’ll find in Indonesia.
For 4 people, use:
- 4 cups of rice, washed and boiled or steamed
- 250 gr of pork meat, cubed (I can’t tell you which cut – this has always been a source of great confusion for me – anything you choose will be fine! I hope)
- one large onion
- 300 gr of white cabbage
- one large carrot
- one leek
- some Chinese celery (that’s the leafy type, not the stalky type)
- 8 eggs (4 for frying, 4 for omelette making)
- some kecap manis (that soy sauve from last week)
- some sambal ulek (like the chili paste from last week, but a slightly different kind)
- 1 tsp of the following spices: spicy paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin
- ½ stp of the following spices: chili powder, laos (dried and ground galanga), turmeric
- some goreng bawang (crispy fried onions)
- some acar (a kind of pickled vegetables)
- some serundeng (sautéd, grated coconut)
Before anything else, make an omelette using 4 out of your 8 eggs. When it’s done, cut it into small strips.
Next, finely chop your onion and fry it in a wok in some oil along with the sambal ulek and the spices. After a minute or so, add the meat and make sure it cooks properly all the way through.
In the meantime, thinly slice your white cabbage, cut rings out of your leek, and make tiny cubes out of your carrot. Add them to the wok, leave to fry for a while, then add a bunch of kecap manis, the rice, and the omelette strips. Quickly chop the celery and add that, too. Mix properly, then serve with the other 4 eggs which you’ve fried in the meantime, the acar, the serundeng and the goreng bawang.