Having lived in Malaysia for more than 10 years, it is no wonder why my family loves this dish. In Malaysia, Nasi Lemak is considered a national dish and this is usually consumed in the morning; Nasi Lemak hawkers can be seen anywhere nearby schools or offices. Traditionally, Nasi Lemak is served with a hot spicy sauce (sambal), and usually include various garnishes, including fresh cucumber slices, small fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, and hard-boiled or fried egg. You will also see some additional dishes which you can add to make a more substantial meal. These dishes are ayam goreng (fried chicken), sambal sotong (cuttlefish in chili), small fried fish, cockles and rendang daging (beef/chicken).
Interestingly, when we returned to Singapore, we saw a different variation of how this nasi lemak is being consumed. Nasi Lemak usually comes with a deep fried chicken wing/drumstick, boiled eggs/fried eggs, fried anchovies, and a sweeter version of sambal. The additional dishes which you can choose from is fish cake, curried vegetables and luncheon meat.
I have been trying to perfect this rice for a long, long time. To me the rice needs to be not only fragrant but not soggy. I hope what I am sharing will help those who wants a good Nasi Lemak to begin with before I start sharing the dishes in my following posts.
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Serves 3 to 4 person
For the rice:
2 cups rice
2 cups of coconut milk
3 screwpine (or pandan) leaves (knotted)
1 stalk of lemongrass (cut only the white part into 3 slices and crush)
½-inch of ginger (thinly sliced)
Salt to taste
For the Sambal:
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
15 dried chillies (deseed)
1½ teaspoon of belacan (prawn paste)
½ teaspoon of salt (+/-)
1 tablespoon of sugar (+/-)
1 cup of water
Tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)
3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil
150g of anchovies
1 small cucumber (cut into thin slices)
50g Roasted Peanuts
1 or 2 pcs of banana leaves (optional)
Cooking the Rice:
- Wash, rinse and drain the rice.
- Add coconut milk, sliced ginger, crushed lemongrass and a pinch of salt into the rice and mix well.
- Lastly add the knotted screwpine leaves (if available).
- Cook the rice in the rice cooker.
Cooking the Sambal: (This step can be prepared the day before)
- Pound the prawn paste together with onions, shallots, garlic, and deseeded dried chilies with a mortar and pestle. You can also grind them with a food processor.
- Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes.
- Squeeze the tamarind to extract the flavor into the water.
- Sieve the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
- Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry the grinded spice paste until fragrant.
- Add tamarind juice, salt, and sugar.
- Continue to simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens and then set aside.
Cooking of Anchovies:
- Wash the dried anchovies and drain the water.
- Sauté the anchovies until they turn light brown and crispy and set aside.
Preparation of the Eggs:
- Boiled the eggs for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Deshell the hard boiled eggs and then cut them into half and set aside.
- Beat the egg
- Heat up a frying pan with a little oil and pour in the beaten eggs.
- Remove the eggs from the pan when it is nicely fried.
- Cut them into strips or divide into 3 to 4 portions and set aside.
- Place a piece of cleaned banana leaf on a plate and spoon the coconut milk rice on it.
- Garnish the rice with cucumber slices and hard-boiled eggs/fried eggs, fried anchovies, sambal and roasted peanuts.