Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nasi Lemak


This Malaysian national dish has a very special place in my heart, because not only is it utterly delicious, but it was also the first dish my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I shared on our first overseas trip together - the trip where we got engaged!

This is the closest version that I could re-create with limited access to Malaysian ingredients - and it was delicious! The sweet creamy rice balances perfectly against the spicy salty sambal, and with refreshing bites of fresh cucumber and the crunchiness of the peanuts and dried fish between bites, this dish is pretty darn close to perfect.

It's a little bit of effort, but absolutely worth it! Go ahead, try it ;)

PS Nasi lemak was recently voted one of the top 10 healthiest breakfasts by Time Magazine, all the more reason to try it. Read the full article here. It's not just a breakfast dish, it's great any time of the day.

Nasi Lemak
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the rice:
3/4 cup Jasmine rice
400 ml (1 tin) coconut milk
1-2 (about 60 ml) lemongrass stalk (white part only), sliced very finely
Pinch of salt

For the Sambal:
1 T garlic, chopped
10 whole dried chillies, torn (seeds in)
1 1/2 T prawn paste
2 red onions, sliced
1 T peanut oil
2 T tamarind paste
500 ml good chicken stock

1 tsp salt
Pinch of sugar

For serving:
Grilled or fried chicken pieces (one or two per person, depending on the size)
4 hard boiled eggs
Cucumber, sliced thickly
½ cup (or 4 serving packets) ikan bilis (small spicy dried fish with peanuts)

Method

For the rice:
In a steamer, combine the rice, coconut milk, lemon grass and a pinch of salt. Steam for about 40 minutes until rice is tender.

For the Sambal:
While the rice is steaming, combine garlic, chillies, prawn paste and salt in a pestle and mortar. Pound until well combined.
Heat peanut oil in a heavy based pan and fry the paste mixture for about 3 minutes.
Add the onions and fry for another 5 minutes over a low heat.
Add tamarind paste and fry for a minute or two.
Add chicken stock and cook until reduced to a thick sauce.
Season with a pinch of sugar and salt if needed.

For serving:
Use a banana leaf as a plate if you can.
Top hot rice with a dollop of the sambal.
Arrange the sliced cucumber, hard boiled egg, chicken and ikan bilis around the rice.
Traditionally eaten with the hands.



The first time we tasted nasi lemak was in a dodgy little restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.

This was the beginning of our passion for local street food. 

Weird and wonderful ingredients turned out to be one of the most memorable meals we have ever had.

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