Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Nasi Goreng is easy to prep yet big on flavor. It’s ready in minutes, cooks in one pan, and the perfect use for day-old rice. Bursting with sweet and savory flavors, this Indonesian fried rice is sure to be a dinner hit!

Nasi Goreng is Indonesian-style fried rice typically flavored with shrimp paste, chili, tamarind, and kecap manis.

Like most Chinese stir-fried rice dishes, this Indonesian fried rice is an easy and economical way to revamp day-old rice and leftover ingredients into another delicious meal. A nasi goreng recipe may vary from one household to the next and may include whatever meat, seafood, and/or vegetables on hand.

As boneless chicken breast was what I had on hand, I decided on Nasi Goreng Ayam (with chicken) for our recipe today, but feel free to swap with prawns, beef, pork, or omit altogether for a vegetarian version.

To complete the dish, you can add eggs by either scrambling and mixing in with the fried rice or cooking sunny side up style and topping the rice when ready to serve. You can also use soft or hard-boiled eggs if you prefer.

Indonesian nasi goreng traditionally uses ground shrimp paste as one of its seasoning agents, which I substituted with our very own ginisang alamang (sauteed shrimp paste) to make the dish more Pinoy-kitchen friendly.

This fragrant rice dish also relies heavily on kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce condiment, for its flavor profile. You can order this Indonesian sweetened soy sauce online if you can’t find it in your local supermarkets or make your own by reducing equal parts of soy sauce and brown or palm sugar over medium heat until thickened to a syrup consistency.

Commercial kecap manis has a bit more complex flavors as it includes other spices such as cinnamon, star anise, cloves, coriander, and black pepper, but our homemade hack should work in a pinch.

Cooking tips

  • Cold, day-old rice is best as leaving the rice in the fridge rid the grains of excess moisture and allows them to firm up. If using freshly-cooked rice, spread out in a thin layer on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 to 2 hours or refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours to dry out and completely cool.
  • This is a speedy process so have all the ingredients prepared and ready to go for the brief stir-frying.
  • Use a wok or a wide pan with high sides to allow a good distribution of the ingredients without spilling and to give the rice enough space to toast nicely. Stir-fry on high heat to prevent the rice from sticking to the surface and to give it a nice, toasty flavor.
  • I highly recommend SAUTEED shrimp paste for the recipe, but if you’re going to use RAW shrimp paste, I suggest sauteing it in the pan a little longer to brown and to temper the strong “fish” taste and smell.

How to make fried shallots

  • Using a mandolin or sharp knife, peel and slice the shallots very thinly.
  • In a pan over medium heat, heat enough oil to cover the shallots.
  • Add the shallots and deep-fry, turning as needed, for about 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Immediately remove from heat with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

How to serve

  • This Indonesian fried rice is a popular street food that can be enjoyed for all meals. It is commonly served with a fried egg and a generous sprinkling of fried shallots on top along with prawn crackers and slices of tomatoes and cucumbers as accompaniments.
  • To store leftovers, allow to cool completely and transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave at 2 to 3-minute intervals until completely warmed through, stirring well after each interval.

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