Nasi Lemak (pronounced as ‘naah see ler mark’) is one of the top most popular hawker food that is widely sold in morning markets, night markets, eating shops, hotel restaurants, Malay or Indian restaurants and even served on Malaysian or Singapore airlines. This is every Malaysian’s favourite. If you like spicy, exotic food, this one is for you.
Nasi lemak can be simple or elaborate. The simplest is usually made up of coconut rice, sambal, peanuts, cucumber and boiled eggs. For a more elaborate one, fried chicken, curried chicken, fried anchovies or salted fish is also added.
In Malaysia, most people will just eat out or buy home to eat. However, this may not be that easy when you stay overseas like me and my family and other Malaysian friends. Here in Aberdeen, Scotland, there isn’t any Malaysian restaurant where you can go and enjoy a plate of nasi lemak, not that I know of. For a whole family to go out and enjoy this will be costly, too, if there is any, like in other cities in UK. Worse, you may be paying for what is not authentic. So, the best is to cook it at home.
I have made it the simplest that I can think of where everyone can cook at home if you are staying overseas or has little cooking utensils. It may not be as authentic as back home but it’s still very delicious, quick to cook and the house doesn’t smell that bad. I could cook the real authentic one outside when it’s summer but I’m not too sure if my neighbours will be happy because of the strong smell of the sambal.
I found that the Lingham ginger garlic chilli sauce is very convenient here, not only for its nice red colour but also for it’s spiciness and mild sweetness. It’s very convenient to use if you want to make marinades, a dip, or in this case sambal, if you like something hotter than the Thai sweet chilli sauce. You can buy this from Costco which comes in a twin pack. It’s a lot cheaper than shops outside.
Here is my Easy Nasi Lemak recipe. It should be enough for 4 people. This really depends on how much each person eats.
Ingredients A (coconut rice)
2 & 1/2C rice (washed and drain)
6T coconut powder
3/4t turmeric powder (Optional)
Put all of Ingredients A into a pot. You can cook your rice a rice cooker but you have to be careful to take care of it as it because the cooking button to trip very quickly to ‘keep warm’ mode. If I ever cook in a rice cooker (very seldom), I have to stand and watch with the cover open until it boils. Give a good stir and let it boil until the water is almost dry. Then cover. If you see steam coming through the steam outlet, then you are fine. Otherwise, just press the cook button again. You must see steam coming through the outlet. Then you can leave it to cook further. Otherwise you will end up with uncooked rice.
You can also steam the rice if you like but I find that too troublesome. I always cook it in a pot over the fire. To learn how to cook it that way, click How To Cook Rice In A Pot. I find this easy and convenient. I can cook other dishes while cooking rice, and when timed properly, everything will be cooked at the same time.
Usually we have plain white coconut rice. But I like something more colourful so I added some turmeric powder to the rice while cooking. You can omit it.
You can use the canned coconut milk if you like. I usually use the canned ones. But if you are cooking a little rice, then using this coconut powder is more convenient. You don’t have to worry about what to do with the rest of the coconut milk.
Ingredients B (chicken)
700g diced chicken
2T curry paste
1t turmeric powder
2T Lingham chili sauce
1T light soya sauce
1T corn flour
Mix all of Ingredients B together. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.
Heat up some oil in a frying pan and pan fry the chicken. The chicken pieces were of different sizes and I didn’t use a non-stick pan for frying. Hence you see the rough look which I like because it looks more like country cooking. I used chicken thigh meat here because I like the tenderness and juiciness of the meat. My children like this chicken dish very much. They were eating away while I was cooking!
This chicken is really delicious to go with the coconut rice. However, if you like curry, you can use either my Fast And Easy Malaysian Chicken Curry or Baked Chicken Curry. They are both my favourite and easy to cook.
Ingredients C (sambal)
1 big red onion (peeled and finely chopped)
1/2 whole garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
4T Lingham chili sauce
2t tamarind puree
The important ingredient in making this sambal is the ‘belacan’, also spelt as ‘belachan’. It is made from tiny shrimps, salted, dried in the sun and pounded until it becomes a paste. It isn’t nice to smell but gives the sambal a unique, lovely flavour and taste. I prefer the wet sambal which gives a much better flavour. This powder type is very easy to use but not as fragrant. So, choose one that you like.
If you use the wet belacan which usually comes in a block or a tube, fry it together with the onions and garlic until it is very fragrant. That’s when your whole house smells, but nice smell. Here I used the powder type where I just add in later together with the other ingredients.
Heat up some oil in a frying pan or small pot and fry the chopped onions and garlic until fragrant. In Malaysia, we used the small purple shallots which are more delicious for sambal. On top of that, we grind or pound the garlic, shallots and dried chillies together before frying. That gives a stronger and tastier sambal. But here, if you don’t have a grinder or pounder, just chop it up finely like me. You have less washing to do.
Add the rest of the other ingredients in Ingredients C. Stir until well combined. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Add chilli powder if you want it more spicy.
Dish up and set aside.See the beautiful colour of the sambal. I don’t like to blend the ingredients because I like the onion bits in it to give it some bite.
To serve, scoop some coconut rice into a small bowl and overturn it onto a plate as in the top picture above. Scoop some sambal on top or at the side. Then spoon some roasted peanuts and fried anchovies (ikan bilis) on to the side, too. I didn’t use them because I ran out of these 2 items in my house. Cut up a hard boiled egg and to it. You can use a fried egg, sunny side up, if you prefer. Add a few pieces of the fried chicken and enjoy a very delicious, exotic meal on a plate.
You can get the dried anchovies (ikan bilis) from Asian market. They are very delicious in a lot of other dishes. I liked them in Okra (Lady’s Fingers) And Anchovies Stir Fry and Malaysian Country Fried Rice. You can try that, too.
I had some left over coconut rice which I steamed up again the next day for dinner. I baked a ready marinated spring chicken to go with it and some raw spinach at the side. It was a very delicious meal, too. You can get this ready marinated spring chicken from Sainsbury at 2 for £6. My family likes this spring chicken very much. It’s very easy to cook it…just bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes. I bought once from Waitrose. It was marinated with different seasonings. My children didn’t like it as much.
You can be creative with this dish. Have fun cooking and don’t miss out this special dish.
Other exotic Malaysian dish that you may be interested in:
Malaysian Prawn Soup Noodles
Quote of the day…….
“Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero