I have a new food obsession. Like I need another…really. It is a dish called Nasi Lemak.
Nasi is traditionally a Malaysian dish, but you can also find it in other parts of Southeastern Asia. There are several versions of Nasi, but they are all mostly composed of rice soaked in coconut cream and then steamed. The name ‘Nasi Lemak’ means “cooked in cream” in Malay. Sometimes the rice is flavored with Pandan leaves to make the rice more aromatic. The rice is then accompanied by vegetables cooked with chili paste, garlic, shallots, fresh ginger and sometimes anchovies, as well as hard boiled egg, slices of cucumber, roasted peanuts, pickled vegetables and hot chili sauce.
So I don’t know if you have figured out the pattern here, but basically this dish is spicy. Very spicy. And that is why I dig it. But it is also very flavorful, and you can control the heat to meet your needs…or weakness. This version has the addition of yogurt, which helps cool off the heat. I first tasted the deliciousness here in Amsterdam at a friend’s house. He made it with a packet of ‘Nasi’ spices, and a pre-cut package of ‘Nasi’ vegatables from Aha. Quite convenient. However I wanted to take it a step further as usual. So here is my take on Nasi Lemak using ingredients you can find in your supermarket, and it takes very little effort for something so tasty.
Sara’s Nasi Lemak Recipe
(for 4 starving persons)
2 c Jasmine Rice (get Pandan rice if you can find it)
1 c coconut milk
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
Smallest dash of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, big dice
1 large onion, sliced
2 inches fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c to 1/2 c (or more!) nasi gorenge chili paste
1/4 tsp cumin
Squeeze of lime
Rinse the rice and drain. Then combine all RICE ingredients into a pot, cover and bring to boil. Once it reaches a boil, lower temp to simmer. Be sure to stir every few minutes as it has a tendency to stick easily because of the high starch content of the rice. Cook until liquid is gone, approximately 10 minutes. Check it!
While rice is cooking, heat the EVOO in your saute pan, or wok, or skillet over low to medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, salt, ginger and garlic. Sweat the vegetables until soft, and onions are translucent. Sweating means to cook the vegetables until they are soft, without browning or caramelizing them.
Once the vegetables are soft, add the chili paste and cumin. Stir to heat through. If you want more of a saucy consistency, add 1/4 c. of chicken or veggie stock and cook til you find your desired texture.
To serve, make a big pile of the rice. Pile the Nasi mixture on top of the rice. Spoon the yogurt around the rice. Sprinkle cumin, or curry, on top of the yogurt. Squeeze 1/2 a lime over the dish. Eat!