But just in case you’re not familiar with it, nasi lemak is literally translated as “creamy rice”. The dish is built up from a base of coconut rice with a few simple condiments like half a boiled egg, deep fried anchovies, peanuts and cucumber. A fiery sambal (chilli relish) is a must.
The “simple” nasi lemak is usually eaten for breakfast. But one can eat this dish anytime of the day, and when having it for lunch or dinner, more substantial accompaniments are included – usually a rendang (dry curry) of some sort, but really, anything goes. I jazzed up our meal with a prawn sambal and fried chicken.
Each separate component of nasi lemak is relatively easy to make, but because there are so many things to prepare, it can be time consuming. I’d actually forgotten how much time it involved. I started early in the afternoon, but even with a few shortcuts thrown in, it was close to dinner by the time I’d finished cooking!
Our nasi lemak included the following dishes :
Coconut rice (recipe follows)
Fried beancurd slices
Peanuts (cheated by using storebought)
Fried chicken (a wonderful recipe from Malaysian blogger Love2Cook. Her blog is full of the most mouthwatering recipes)
Sambal tumis (chilli relish) which was then used to make sambal udang (chilli prawns)
(The sambal tumis recipe is by fellow blogger 3 Hungry Tummies whose cooking is enough to make me cry – with delight)
Anchovies, beancurd slices and english spinach ready to be cooked
These beer nuts taste and look exactly like the peanuts the nasi lemak vendors use. Bonus find!
As for the sambal udang (chilli prawns) , herein lies the fine art of bantai cooking. Bantai is a hard word to describe – there are a couple of different meanings, but in this context, it means “having a go”. But it’s more than just having a go, it also implies jumping in without really knowing how to do something but doing it anyway. In fact, it’s probably a good word to describe my style of cooking ☺.
So, I’m sure there are “proper” ways to make a prawn sambal, but in the spirit of “bantai", I stir fried about 10 green prawns (deveined) with a little oil in the same pan that I made the sambal tumis in. Once the prawns started sizzling, I added about three tablespoonfuls of the sambal tumis and a crushed kaffir lime leaf. Once the prawns were cooked, I squeezed a quarter of a lemon over the whole thing to finish. Very tasty if I do say so myself!
Have a great week ahead, I’m sure there’ll be more “bantai-ing” happening in my kitchen ☺
Creamy coconut rice (for nasi lemak)
I always cook my rice in the microwave (which horrifies my mother), but this method will work for the stovetop absorption method as well.
Also, I don’t usually measure out my rice but for the purpose of writing this post, I did. Usually, I use the “knuckle” method of working out how much water to use – rest the third finger against the cleaned rice, and make sure the water level comes up to just past the first knuckle. Hand needs to be straight up. Obviously this method will have huge variations depending on the length of your fingers, but I find it works satisfactorily enough).
2 ½ cups long grained rice (eg. jasmine) – washed and drained. Washing removes the excess starch
3 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon water.
3 pandan (screwpine) leaves, knotted. I used a few more because they were frozen and I wasn’t sure if the fragrance would still be strong enough, luckily it worked. If pandan is unavailable, a chunk of peeled ginger (thumb sized) can be used instead. The purpose of the pandan is to scent the rice, obviously with ginger it will smell different.
About 2 large tablespoons thick coconut cream (more if preferred)
Pinch of salt (mix into the cooking water).
Place rice and water(and salt) into the cooking container. Push the pandan leaves into the rice so it doesn’t float. Cook rice as usual. About 5 minutes before the end of cooking time, use a fork to carefully stir in the coconut cream into the rice, making sure it’s well incorporated . Cook until the rice is done.
I can’t really give you cooking times because each microwave is different).
*assumption based on no research at all.