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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Nasi Goreng

Hi guys, sorry about the recent radio silence - my mum and sister came to Manchester for a visit and I cooked roast lamb and about 6 different types of vegetables for them, with apple and blackberry crumble for pudding. I meant to write a post about the roast (hehe, I rhyme) but by the time I remembered that I was meant to take photos the lamb was carved and the potatoes were on their way to our mouths! Other than that one meal and a cold lunch earlier in the day we ate out whilst they were here. For lunch we went to Carluccio at the amazingly OTT Trafford Centre and ordered their delicious arancini (deep-fried and breadcrumbed balls of risotto), followed by the classic spaghetti carbonara (why can I never make it so well?). Supper was a tasty extravaganza of flying potato chips and juggling eggs - we went to a teppanyaki restaurant (Sapporo Tappanyaki on Liverpool Road) - where the chefs cook in front of the diners and throw food, real and pretend, at their customers. It was a great evening and somewhere I really recommend for a fun meal with friends.

The prepared veg for our roast dinner 

Now, back to the title of this post. Nasi Goring is an Indonesian fried rice dish, which you get variations of all over South East Asia. The best one I've ever had has to be from Miss Ly's cafeteria in Hoi An, Vietnam. There was just something so moreish about the mildly spicy dish and it was so incredibly delicious that we went there twice during our five day trip to the city. I've also eaten excellent versions of the meal on my two trips to see the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. It was so simple and so good that it was my lunch every day. On the last day I plucked up the courage to ask the waitress what went into the rice to make it spicy and she said sweet chilli. Delighted, I returned to Manchester and poured a good half bottle of sweet chilli sauce into my cooking rice to recreate the taste. Alas! It was not to be and I scoured the internet for recipes that also just missed the mark. It was not until I watched the chef of the villa we stayed at in Central Java (Villa Borobudur) prepare nasi goring for our lunch that I learnt the secret ingredient - kecap manis or sweet dark soy. It's a treacle-like sweet soy sauce that is also used in Thai chicken with cashew nuts and many other asian dishes. I bought my bottle from and it's the same make I had at home in Singapore. The Asian Cookshop has a great range of ingredients for sale and speedy delivery.

My huge bottle of Kecap Manis
Nasi Goring can be made with many different vegetables. The chefs at Borobudur used cabbage leaf, onion leaf and mustard leaf as well as carrot. I have used vegetables that are staples in my kitchen and, I suspect, many others - red pepper, onion and carrot. You can use what vegetables you like as long as you can dice them into cubes of about three millimetres square. At Borobudur they also used fresh chillies but I found that you'd get one mouthful that was fiery hot and many others that were so mild there was no spice: you just didn't get the gentle heat in your mouth that I so loved with the other fried rices. To remedy this I used dried chilli powder (mine is from Cambodia), which imparted its depth of flavour to the entire dish.

Cambodian dried chilli (chili?) powder
Nasi Goreng Recipe
Serves 2
Make sure you precook and cool the rice before you use it in the recipe. Maybe make a double quantity of rice if you're eating it the night before.
Remember that you can always add more chilli powder but you can't take it away.

Finely diced carrot, onion and pepper

½ cup of dried white rice, cooked to the instructions on the packet and then refrigerated
2 rashers of bacon or ½ chicken breast or equivalent of tofu, all finely diced
1 crushed garlic clove
2 eggs
1 small carrot, diced to 3mm cube
½ white onion, diced to 3mm cube
½ red pepper, diced to 3mm cube
1½ tbsp kecap manis (sweet dark soy)
¼ to ½ tsp dried chilli powder, or more
Pinch of salt

Fry the meat or tofu, on a high heat, in a little butter in a large wok/frying pan until cooked through.
Add the garlic and the eggs. Scramble the eggs until cooked through.
Add the carrot, pepper and onion and sweat for 3 minutes.
Season with a little salt.
Put in the rice and stir constantly until it is hot through.
Pour in the keycap manis and the chilli powder and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
Check the spice and add more chilli if needs be, stirring continually.
Plate up and eat with chopsticks.

Stir, stir and stir again!

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