Nasi Goreng is Indonesia’s take on fried rice. It’s very slightly sweetened due to a little kecap manis, with a hit of spice from sambal oelek. If a lot of those words don’t mean anything to you, don’t worry. I’ll walk you through this. We’re going to make this delicious and versatile fried recipe, and then we’re going to top it off with a perfectly fried egg.
I’ve loved nasi goreng since I was a child (I used to ask my Indonesian babysitter to make it for me all the time).
Traditional recipes like fried rice vary from home to home. In a country as large as Indonesia, you can imagine, there will be a lot of variety to how this recipe is tackled. And even concerning the history of the recipe!
I order the nasi goreng whenever I’ve seen it on a restaurant menu, but it’s strange that almost every version of it has been completely different from the others – I’ve had vegetarian versions, versions made with hot dog pieces, and this version – which is my take on it, and my personal favourite. (I’m a little biased towards myself, bestie!)
What is Nasi Goreng
Simply put, Nasi Goreng is Indonesian fried rice. It is typically flavoured with kecap manis (a sweet soy sauce), sambal oelek (a chili paste), and served with a fried egg on top. It is not uncommon to find recipes that use belacan (dried shrimp) or terasi (shrimp paste) in their recipe too (although, I don’t require it in my take on this classic fried rice dish).
Where is it from
Nasi goreng is from Indonesia, however its origins are not clear. Some sources trace the recipe’s roots back to Chinese fried rice, other sources refute this and say that the Indonesian fried rice was developed entirely separately. Other sources suggest that the recipe is actually derived from some Middle Eastern recipes.
Regardless of where it originated, nasi goreng is a household favourite (especially as a way to use up day old rice) in Indonesia, and its neighbours, Malaysia and Singapore.
What does it mean
Nasi goreng is Indonesian for “fried rice”.
Do you eat nasi goreng with chopsticks
Generally speaking, chopsticks aren’t used much in Indonesia – in terms of utensils, most food is eaten with a spoon and fork. That said, there are pockets that use chopsticks a lot more. So…the answer is no. But sometimes yes.
I included chopsticks in my photos because…well, I just thought they looked pretty.
Nasi Goreng Tips
One of the best things about nasi goreng is that there really isn’t much to it. No secret techniques or fancy equipment required, just standard fried rice etiquette:
- Opt for day-old cooked rice for this recipe. Day old rice is drier than freshly cooked rice, so it’s better for stir frying. Any sort of long-grain rice will work fine. I typically use basmati, but jasmine rice is a favourite of many.
- Kecap manis is delicious. But don’t go crazy with it. I know, I know…umami and all that. But don’t go overboard, and drown your rice in soy sauce. I’ve tried it. It’s not a good result!
- A crispy fried egg makes an excellent companion to this fried rice recipe. Baste your egg with a little oil/butter to crisp up its edges for a little added texture to your meal.
Kecap manis is a sweet Indonesian soy sauce. It is thicker than most soy sauces, with a consistency closer to maple syrup. You can generally find it in most large supermarkets.
Note: Occasionally, it is called ketjap manis – this is the same thing.
How to make Kecap manis at home
It’s actually quite easy to make kecap manis at home. Of course, it’s not a perfect substitute, but it’s pretty good. All you need to do is stir ¼ cup of soy sauce (just regular soy sauce…not a special variation) with a ¼ cup of brown sugar over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and allow it to reduce until it thickens. You’re looking for that maple syrup consistency.
Keep in mind that as the mixture cools (even once it’s off the heat), it will continue to thicken slightly.
Sambal oelek is an Indonesian chili paste, you can swap it out with half a teaspoon of red chili powder, or omit it entirely (if you have trouble with spice). It is available in the Asian food aisle of most large grocery stores. Some people prefer to omit this, and instead garnish with a chopped red chili for extra spice and a pop of colour.
Belecan (Indonesian dried shrimp) is a popular addition (some recipes use terasi, which is a shrimp paste) to nasi goreng recipes. I don’t use it in this recipe, and it’s certainly not an essential item, but you can add it for a little extra hit of flavour.
Like most fried rice recipes, nasi goreng can be mixed up quite easily. Here are a few quick suggestions:
- Make a vegetarian version without chicken. Of course, you can swap the chicken for any protein you prefer – beef, shrimp, and tofu variations are all popular!
- Add in belacan (dried shrimp) and see what you think! Add it in or use 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste. (You’d mix it in at the same time as the cold rice).
- Swap out the chicken for pieces of chopped up hot dogs. This is actually something my babysitter used to do for me as a child!
- If you don’t like fried eggs, you can also cook an omelette – chop it up and mix it into the cooked nasi goreng. (If you want to eat this the way it was made for me as a child, add a squirt of ketchup on the side.)
Nasi goreng is NOT a side dish!
You’re probably wondering what this section is all about. Well, while researching this post, I came across a lot of blog posts or articles suggesting that nasi goreng is a common side dish. It is not. If you’ve grown up anywhere in Asia, you know that fried rice is never a side dish! Let’s do a thought exercise:
Imagine an eight-year-old Riz. Hungry. Cute. Impeccable table manners. And then imagine him looking up at his mother saying, “Hey, thanks for taking the time to make this Indonesian fried rice. But what are we having for the main dish?”
(The answer is shoes, bestie. Eight-year-old Riz would be eating shoes. And not willingly.)
Unless you’re at a party with multiple main courses…nasi goreng is the main course. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Think about it…have you ever had a side order of fried rice? Fries? Sure. Brussel sprouts? Works. Fried rice? Sacrilege.
(I’m kidding. My mummy is lovely. She never threw shoes at me. This message is not written under duress.)
Generally speaking, fried rice can be refrigerated for two to three days after which it starts to get dry. If you’re on day five, I find that you can sometimes salvage it by sprinkling a little water on top before microwaving it.
Can nasi goreng be frozen
Nasi goreng (minus the egg) can be frozen for up to two months. Personally, I find that the texture isn’t quite as nice after it’s been frozen though.
More dinner recipes
Here are a few other dinner ideas, inspired by international cuisine:
- Easy Filipino Chicken Adobo
- Al Baik Chicken (Saudi Arabian fried chicken)
- Swedish Toast Skagen
- Chaliapin Steak (from Japan)
- Pastilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie)
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There’s very little you need to make Indonesian fried recipe, however this Kecap manis, is certainly worth picking up.
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And that’s a wrap! Have you ever had nasi goreng? What did you think of it? If you made my recipe, please do comment below and let me know what you thought of it!Print