Since our most amazing Indonesian lunch at the blessed by nature, finest five-star Sheraton Hotel, next to a beautiful beach in Lombok, Indonesia, I’ve wanted to learn to make some of the wonderful dishes I had. After receiving several suggestions, I wanted to begin with a rice dish.
Nasi goreng, ‘fried rice’ in Indonesian, can refer simply to fried cooked rice with chicken and/or prawns, typically spiced with (Thai)-chili, shallot, garlic, and kecap manis  (sweet soy sauce, pronounced: ketchup  manis) and shrimp-paste (which may not please some palates… mine), garnished with egg, spring onion, cucumbers and tomatoes. There are varieties of nasi goreng, such as one made with ikan asin (salted dried fish) which is popular across Indonesia. One ingredient definitely used in all varieties is kecap manis. Though there are many notable dishes in Indonesian cuisine, nasi goreng has been called one of the national dishes of Indonesia.
Nasi goreng is often described as Indonesia’s twist on fried rice. And like the rest of fried rice recipes in Asia, it was suggested that it can trace its origin from Southern Chinese fried rice. However, it is not clear when Indonesians began to adopt the Chinese fried rice and create their own version of nasi goreng. Chinese influences upon Indonesian cuisine can be seen in mie goreng that appeared simultaneously with the introduction of stir frying technique which required the use of a Chinese wok. Nasi goreng differs from other Asian fried rice recipes by applying generous amounts of kecap manis, and the taste is stronger and spicier compared to Chinese fried rice.
Nasi goreng is ubiquitous in Indonesia, and also popular in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore, as well as the Netherlands, through its colonial ties with Indonesia.
 Kecap manis: Sweet soy sauce with a thick, almost syrupy consistency and unique, distinct, sweet, somewhat treacle-like flavor, due to generous additions of palm sugar. While cooking, molasses with a little vegetable stock stirred in, may be substituted. However, this is different than the smooth, mild sweetness of palm sugar and strong flavor of fermented soy, since molasses can tend to have a lingering (bitter) taste. Since it is difficult to find a bottle of kecap manis in stores, a commonly suggested substitute is: 1 part reduced-sodium soy sauce with 1 part palm sugar, molasses or brown sugar and optional star anise. (I tried molasses and it did not please my palate at all! For my recipe, I have a different ratio of soy sauce/brown sugar.)
 History of ketchup: In the 1690’s, Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (Mandarin guī zhī, Cantonese gwai zap) meaning the brine of pickled fish or shellfish. By the early 18th century, the table sauce had reached Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was discovered by British explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kĕchap. That word evolved into the English word ‘ketchup’. Many variations of ketchup were created, but the tomato-based version did not appear until about a century after other types. By 1801, a recipe for tomato ketchup was created by Sandy Addison and later printed in an American cookbook, the Sugar House Book.
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 1 cup pre-cooked –or- 3 cups cooked jasmine rice
• 2 shallots (3 oz/85 g) or any onion (I prefer sweet onion)
• 3 Serrano chilies de-seeded (if you like ‘super’-hot, keep some seeds in)
• 1 clove garlic
• 280 g/ 10 oz chicken breast
• 4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
• 2 Tbsp brown sugar
• 3 stems spring onion
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 eggs
• ½ tsp granulated sugar
• ½ tsp vegetable oil
• 1~2 cucumbers
• 4 cherry tomatoes
• 1 small lime
◊ Have all ingredients prepared before cooking.
◊ Cook rice per package instruction. After cooking, fluff it and cool in refrigerator.
◊ Finely mince shallots and Serrano chili and mash the garlic clove.
◊ Cut chicken in small, bite-size pieces.
◊ Mix soy-sauce and brown-sugar well.
◊ Thinly slice spring onion stems.
◊ Beat eggs with sugar and fry with ½ tsp oil making one flat thin omelet sheet. Slice in strips.
◊ Pour 2 Tbsp oil in deep, medium-size skillet or pot, put on medium-high. When oil ripples, add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add chili and garlic, stir for 30 seconds and add cut chicken. Sauté for two minutes and add half of soy-sauce/brown-sugar sauce. Sauté until chicken is cooked (another minute or two).
◊ Add cooked rice, stir well, add remaining sauce and continue stirring.
◊ Add half of sliced spring onion and mix. Turn off heat and put a lid on to keep warm.
◊ Cut cucumber and place decoratively on a serving platter.
◊ Dish out fried rice on serving platter, garnish with remaining spring onion and fried eggs.
◊ Garnish with tomatoes and sliced lime.
~ Selamat Makan! ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?