Nasi Lemak is a must-try dish when travelling to Malaysia. For local Malaysians that leave their home country, nasi lemak is the meal they crave, the comfort food they long for most.
The name itself ” rice in cream” is derived from the cooking process where regular white rice is literally soaked in coconut cream and then steamed to give a gorgeous, aroma of coconut-perfumed white rice that is then wrapped in banana leaf or served on a plate and eaten with the other side dishes mentioned above. Sometimes a knotted pandan leaf, or ginger or a stalk of lemongrass is thrown it to make the rice all the more fragrant.
The Malaysian nasi lemak consists of a hot spicy sauce (sambal), hard boiled egg, cucumber slices, small dried anchovies (ikan bilis) and roasted peanuts at its core and to this you may add sambal cuttlefish, fried chicken, cockle, stir fried water convolvulus (kangkong), pickled vegetables (achar) or beef rendang (beef stewed in coconut milk and spices).
Sinful and bad for the heart but incredibly delicious.. If you eat this once in a while, it’s not so bad!
How to make this dish
- 1 Kilogram rice
- 6 Cups water
- 200 Grams thick coconut milk
- 3 screw pine leaves
- 1 Teaspoon sugar, to taste
- 2 Teaspoons salt, to taste
- 2 lemongrass, crushed
- 1 ginger, crushed
- 3 Cups dried anchovies
- 1 Cup oil
- 3 garlic
- 12 shallots
- 150 Grams Chillie paste
- 3 Teaspoons prawn paste
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 3 red onions
- 1 tamarind pulp
- 3 Cups water, soak tamarind pulp
- 6 eggs, hard-boiled
- 1 cucumber, cut into slices
- 2 Cups raw peanuts
- Wash the rice then soak overnight in plenty of water. Drain for 10 minutes in a sieve.
- Line a bamboo steamer or steaming pot with pandan leaves. Sprinkle the lemongrass, eschallot and ginger over the pandan leaves and position steaming vessel snuggly over a pot or wok. Combine the rice with the salt, sugar and coconut cream and pour over the aromatics. Cover and steam for 15-30 minutes or until the rice is tender. If you are using a bamboo steamer lid, place a piece of foil over the rice to help keep more steam in. An alternative to steaming is the normal absorption method (do not soak the rice for this method. Simply rinse and drain just before cooking). The grains won’t be as nicely separated but you will get a more intense coconut flavour.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 170°C fan-forced.
- To fry the ikan bilis, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. To check if the oil is ready, drop in a few ikan bilis and if they turn golden in about 10 seconds, the oil is good to go. Fry all the ikan bilis at once until crispy and golden. Scoop out with a slotted spoon, then transfer to a sieve lined with plenty of paper towel to drain. Set aside.
- For an authentic Malaysian touch, line dinner plates with banana leaves basted with vegetable oil for gloss. Divide all the ingredients into individual portions or sharing plates to have at the centre of the table.
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