Nasi Lemak has definitely made a name for itself as Malaysia’s most popular dish. As most Malaysians can attest, food is our passion and no doubt, we have plenty thanks to our multicultural citizens.
This dish is a proud Malaysian staple that brings us all together. You can easily find it in any stall or household across the nation. However, you shouldn’t take preparing a truly authentic recipe of the dish lightly, as the ingredients, flavour and texture have to just right.
Key Components of Nasi Lemak
The dish is mainly composed of coconut milk rice served with sambal, fried anchovies, hard-boiled egg, toasted peanuts and cucumber. The sambal is the essential ingredient that brings the whole dish together and must be fragrant. Depending on your preference, the sambal can be spicy, slightly tangy or not spicy.
Nasi Lemak RecipeDifficulty: Easy
Nasi Lemak – Steamed coconut milk rice served with sambal, fried anchovies, hard-boiled egg, toasted peanuts and cucumber. The dish is commonly served with fried fish, chicken or any other protein.
- Coconut Milk Steamed Rice
2 cups rice
3 pandan leaves
Salt, to taste
1 can coconut milk (5.6 oz)
- Tamarind Juice
1 cup water
Tamarind pulp, size of a small ping pong ball
- Sambal Ikan Bilis (Dried Anchovies Sambal)
1 cup ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
1/2 red onion
1 clove garlic
10 dried chillies
1 tsp belacan (prawn paste)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
- Other Ingredients
3 small sardines or smelt
2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1 small cucumber, cut into slices and then quartered
- Rinse and drain rice as usual. Add coconut milk, a pinch of salt and water. Proceed to add the pandan leaves into the rice and cook the rice.
- Rinse dried anchovies and drain the water. Next, fry the anchovies until they turn light brown and set aside.
- Mix and pound the prawn paste together with garlic, shallots and deseeded dried chillies using a mortar and pestle or food processor.
- Slice red onions into rings. Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes while constantly squeezing the tamarind the extract the juice flavour into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice for later.
- Heat some oil in a pan and fry the spice paste until it becomes fragrant. Add in the onion rings and ikan bilis then stir well. Next, add the tamarind juice, salt and sugar. Simmer the mixture on low heat until the gravy thickens and put aside.
- Clean the small fish, cut them into half lengthwise and season with salt. Deep fry the seasoned fish. Cut the cucumber into slices and quarter them. Serve the steamed coconut milk rice and pour some sambal ikan bilis over the rice (or at the side). Serve the dish with fried fish, cucumber slices and hard-boiled eggs.
Ways to Enjoy Nasi Lemak
This dish is an excellent meal by itself. In fact, most locals have it for breakfast, but its versatility has led us to indulge in the rice dish at any time of the day, including supper. It’s often served with other side dishes to balance the nutritional value and make the meal more filling, such as fried chicken or sotong.
The popular accompaniments to the dish include fried chicken, rendang chicken, sambal sotong (squid) and sambal udang (shrimp). Not to worry, as there is no wrong way to eat Nasi Lemak!
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