|Nasi Goreng (fried rice)|
Back in college, there was a restaurant in the Diliman area called Rasa Singapura. That was where I had my first taste of nasi goreng. It is tempting to categorize this entry under “Singaporean recipes” but nasi goreng more properly belongs to Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines. It is fried rice cooked in much the same way as any Chinese-style fried rice except that the most popular versions of this dish include a little bit of shrimp paste — belacan (sometimes, belachan) to Malaysians; bagoong to us Filipinos.
You will find many variations of nasi goreng. It is, after all, a dish that often makes use of leftover rice, meat, seafood and vegetables. The following recipe was adapted from Homestyle Malay Cooking, a part of the Periplus Mini Cookbooks series. Serves 4.
4 cups of steamed jasmine rice, cooled (day-old)
12 medium-sized shrimps, shelled and veins removed
3 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
12 to 15 string beans (I used baguio beans)
half a head of garlic
2 finger chilis
1 stalk of lemongrass (light portion only)
1/2 tsp. of shrimp paste (Barrio Fiesta Bagoong)
1 tsp. of salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper (optional but recommended for added aroma)
4-6 tbsps. of cooking oil
1. Slit the chilis lengthwise and scrape off the seeds. Chop.
2. Crush the garlic and discard the skins. Peel and chop the onion.
3. Peel the outer layers of the lemongrass, discard then thinly slice the tender portion.
4. Trim the ends and edges of the beans and cut into half-inch lengths.
5. Transfer the chilis, lemongrass, garlic and onion to a mortar, add a little oil, and grind with a pestle.
6. Alternatively, place in a blender, pour in the oil and pulse several times to form a paste.
7. Transfer the paste to a wok (or frying pan) and cook over medium heat until the oil separates from the semi-solids (or saute the paste in oil if you ground it in a mortar). Turn the heat to high, add the cubed chicken and cook, stirring, for about five minutes. Add the shrimps and cook for another minute. Add the beans. Season with salt, pepper and bagoong. Cook for an additional minute. Then add the rice, stir well, and cook until heated through.