Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 9, 2010: Nasi Lemak

Cindy really loved her breakfast on our last morning in Melaka and was excited when AOF left a comment linking to her own nasi lemak recipe. It didn't take us long after we got back for us to have a crack at it. We took a few shortcuts - buying a jar sambal rather than making our own and substituting some bok choy we had in the fridge for the more appropriate kangkung.

Even having reduced the complexity a little, this was pretty involved - you've got a saucepan with rice, a pan for the peanuts, a pan for the tempeh, a pan for the greens and something to boil the eggs in. It'd be smart to do a few things (like the eggs and the nuts) ahead of time rather than messing up the entire kitchen, but we were too disorganised to do things the easy way. Still, it's worth the effort - this gave us three days or so of amazing food. The coconut rice provides a rich sweetness, which goes well with the kecap-manis flavoured tempeh and the freshness of the cucumber. There's a lot of textural variety with crispy tempeh, crunchy nuts and the soft eggs, and everything is brought together by the salty and hot sambal. (As an aside: if anyone knows a good vegetarian sambal available in Melbourne, let us know - ours was a little too sweet.)

Next time we might try to get things a bit more authentic, with homemade sambal and the right greens. Regardless, expect to see Nasi Lemak on our where's the best? list the next time we update it.

Nasi Lemak (via Confessions of a Food Nazi)

6 eggs
400ml coconut milk
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups water

200g peanut kernels
2 large bok choy, rinsed and chopped into large chunks
1 tablespoon peanut oil
450 tempeh, cut into small strips
kecap manis
4 cups greens (e.g. bok choy)
soy sauce
vegie sambal, to taste
1/2 a cucumber, sliced

Hardboil and peel your eggs, and set them aside.

Add the coconut milk, rice and water to a saucepan and bring to the boil, lower heat and cover, simmering until the rice is soft (half an hour or so).

While the rice is cooking, toast the peanut kernels in a dry pan, being careful not to burn them.

Remove the nuts, add the peanut oil to the pan and add the tempeh, frying until it gets crisp. Add in a few teaspoons of kecap manis (to taste) and toss it through, coating the tempeh strips.

Set the tempeh aside and put the greens in the frying pan (with more oil if necessary) and stir-fry with a few splashes of soy sauce (Cindy steered clear of adding sambal to the greens at this point in case it all got too hot for her).

Assemble the dish by placing a big dollop of coconut rice in the middle of your plate, and surrounding it with all the other elements. Layer on a few tablespoons of sambal (to taste) and smush things together a bit for a sweet, salty and spicy delight.


  1. what an adorable nasi lemak! <3

  2. To me the best thing about Nasi Lemak is the rice and the sambal.

  3. It's a labour of love - but a worthwhile one :) Glad you've been inspired.

    If you haven't found kangkung already I usually get it from Vic market. In the shed closest to the dairy hall, go down the aisle that doesn't have the organic stalls and it's at the last one on the left before you get to the road.

  4. in malaysia, often you pay 50 cents or a ringgit at most for simple nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf - just coconut rice, less than a handful of nuts and sambal. it's the rice and sambal that make or break it.

  5. Nasi lemak lovers everywhere! We've come to the party late. :-P

  6. A good nasi lemak requires Pandan Leaves and few inches of bruised galangal. It give the dish depth or aroma and flavor rather than just the creaminess of coconut. I can have this for breakfast every day - ;

  7. Hi Aliza! Thanks for the tip - we'll seek them out when we're making this again.