This is just not your regular fried rice. Nasi Goreng is a national dish of Indonesia, for good reason. It is a simple yet flavorful fried rice with an intriguing blend of ingredients, techniques, and traditions.
From street vendors to households to high end restaurants, everyone likes to stir fry it with their own tweaks and tricks. Make this savory, sweet umami flavor bomb with bold notes of spicy.
Nasi Goreng, if you ask me, tops the list of all the fried rice dishes from all over the world. And its about time you learn and enjoy this easy yet unique Indonesian style fried rice in your own kitchen.
Nasi Goreng is a little hard to find in your local Asian restaurants, unless you live in some big metros where you have easy access to all types of Asian cuisine.
But then it’s very easy to create this great fried rice in your kitchen with just a few special ingredients. Like any other fried rice it’s a breeze to cook, and you can customize it just the way you like.
Each has very distinctive regional flavors and flairs. But today’s Indonesian version can wear a crown over all of them.
Why We Love this Indonesian Recipe
- Variety of Flavors: The dish has rich, savory, and a little bit spicy flavors. The combination gives it a unique and exciting taste.
- Versatility: Nasi Goreng can be eaten any time of the day – breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Customizability: It can be customized to personal taste. You can easily add different types of proteins and veggies.
- Convenience: It’s a quick and easy dish to make, especially if you have leftover rice, making it ideal for busy weeknights.
- Cultural Experience: Nasi Goreng is considered Indonesia’s national dish. This is a great introductory dish if you want to try Indonesian food.
- Affordability: Given its humble ingredients, this can be an pocket-friendly meal option and can feed the crowds on budget.
What is Nasi Goreng?
Nasi Goreng is an Indonesian dish that simply translates to “fried rice.” It is a beloved staple food in Indonesian cuisine and has gained popularity across the world for its unique flavors and versatility.
The dish is made by stir-frying pre-cooked rice, typically leftover from a previous meal, with a variety of ingredients such as meats, vegetables, and a mix of aromatic spices, like garlic, shallot, and chili, often seasoned with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
The history of Nasi Goreng goes back centuries and reflects the widespread agricultural tradition of rice farming in Indonesia.
The concept of frying rice emerged as a practical solution to prevent leftover rice from spoiling in the tropical climate. By stir-frying the rice, not only was food waste minimized, but a new, flavorful dish was created.
It is deeply embedded in the daily life of Indonesians, and can be found everywhere from street-side food stalls known as “warungs” to high-end restaurants.
It’s often consumed as a breakfast dish, made with rice from the night before. It’s also a common late-night meal, and many street vendors work late into the night serving it.
In 2017, CNN conducted an online poll of 35,000 people which named Nasi Goreng as number two on their list of the ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.’ This highlights the universal appeal of this simple yet richly flavored dish.
Typically it’s served with a sunny side up egg and a side of fresh cucumber and tomatoes.
Indonesian Fried Rice Ingredients
Making an authentic Nasi Goreng recipe requires a mix of several key ingredients, each contributing to the dish’s unique and savory flavor. You’ll find exact measurements in the recipe card. Here is what you’ll need:
- Kecap Manis – Kecap Manis, pronounced “ketchup manis,” is a popular Indonesian sweet soy sauce that has been sweetened with palm sugar, giving it a thick, syrupy consistency and a rich, dark color. You can buy this at most Asian markets. Can’t find it? No problem!! Simply combine ¼ cup ordinary soy sauce (we use Kikkoman) and ¼ cup brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it has a maple syrup-like consistency. It will thicken more when it cools.
- Shrimp Paste – Shrimp paste, known as ‘terasi’ in Indonesia, is a traditional ingredient used in many Southeast Asian cuisines. It adds a distinct flavor to dishes, imparting a depth of umami and a touch of the sea. Shrimp paste is very potent with a strong aroma, and it should be used sparingly. In its absence, you can use 1 tablespoon of fish sauce.
- Leftover Rice – A day old leftover, cold rice is ideal for any kind of fried rice. Freshly cooked rice won’t fry well and turns mushy. If you don’t have any on hand, you can cook rice fresh, spread it thinly on a sheet pan, and then refrigerate for an hour or two. We recommend jasmine rice or basmati rice.
- Protein – Today we are using boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use chicken breast as well) and eggs, both for scrambling in the fried rice and topping the rice with fried eggs. You can make this with shrimp and tofu as well.
- Aromatics – Shallots, garlic, fresh red chili.
- Other sauces – Soy sauce, dark soy sauce.
- Turmeric – Just a little to give vibrant color.
- For garnishing and serving – Fried eggs, scallions, red chili, tomatoes, sliced cucumber, shrimp crackers.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Fry Aromatics: Heat oil in large wok or skillet over medium-high heat and stir fry chopped shallot for a minute. Add in chopped garlic and red chili and cook for a minute.
2. Add protein: Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 Tbsp kecap manis and stir fry till chicken is almost cooked and browed a bit. Move the chicken mixture to the sides of the wok, add splash of oil if needed, and add in shrimp paste. Move it around in the oil to dissolve it a little before stir-frying and mixing it through the remaining ingredients.
3. Scramble eggs and add rice: Move the mixture again to the sides, making a small well in the middle and scramble 2 eggs, then mix with rest of the mixture. Add in rice along with 2 Tbsp kecap manis, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce and a dash of turmeric. Stir fry till everything is well combined and the rice starts to caramelize a little.
Serve fried rice with a crispy fried egg on top along with cucumber, tomato and prawn crackers.
Alpana’s Tips and Tricks
This is a relatively simple dish to prepare, but there are a few tips and tricks that can take your fried rice to the next level:
- Use Day-Old Rice: The best rice for frying is cooked rice that’s been left to cool, ideally overnight. Freshly cooked rice is moist and can lead to a soggy, clumpy result. Day-old rice is drier and will fry better, giving you distinct rice grains and a perfect texture.
- High Heat is Key: Nasi Goreng should be cooked quickly on high heat. This is to give the rice a slightly crisp texture and to prevent it from steaming and becoming mushy.
- Use a Wok: If you have one, a wok is ideal because its shape distributes heat evenly. If you don’t have a wok, use your largest skillet.
- Season to Taste: While the traditional recipe calls for certain ingredients, don’t be afraid to adjust to your own taste. This might mean adding more or less chili, using different proteins, or adding additional veggies.
We love our Nasi Goreng with traditional accompaniments of prawn crackers, which you can easily find in Asian grocery stores, along with tomato and cucumber. Sometimes we whip up some quick Asian Cucumber Salad.
And please don’t forget that runny fried egg on top. The runny yolk mixes into the rice when cut into, adding a rich and creamy element to the dish.
If you like it on the spicy side, serve it along with sambal oelek or homemade Chili Oil.
A squeeze of fresh lime juice also goes great here.
There are many versions of Nasi Goreng, and it can be adapted according to personal preferences or whatever ingredients you have on hand. Here are some ideas:
- Swap the protein: You can replace the chicken with any of your favorite proteins like beef or shrimp. Ground chicken or ground pork go great too.
- Add veggies: Sometimes we add in veggies like peas, carrots, green beans or bell peppers.
- Make it vegan: The dish can be made vegan by omitting the shrimp paste and using tofu or tempeh as protein, and using a vegan-friendly soy sauce.
- Kampung style: Also known as ‘village-style’ fried rice, this version uses more chili and less soy sauce, resulting in a spicier and less sweet dish.
- Nasi Goreng Pattaya: A popular variation in Malaysia, this involves wrapping the fried rice in a thin omelet and often topping it with a sweet and spicy chili sauce.
Leftovers and Storing
Leftovers, like other cooked rice dishes, can typically be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Store in an airtight container.
When you’re ready to eat, simply microwave it or stir fry again in a wok until heated through out.
We don’t recommend freezing leftover fried rice, it might turn mushy.
There you go, one more cracking fried rice recipe that can really come in handy on busy weeknights. Explore new flavors and experiences in your kitchen, and make this Indonesian style fried rice the next time you have some leftover rice.
Tell us how you like these new ethnic flavors, and how it turned out. All you need is a couple of new ingredients that you might not be familiar with, and a whole new dinner is waiting for you.
Give this Indonesian national dish a try, and find out why it’s so beloved.
Nasi Goreng, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 large shallot (or 1 small onion), finely chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 fresh red chili, finely chopped (see note 1)
- 8oz boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into small bites
- 3 Tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce, see note 2)
- 1 tsp shrimp paste (see note 3)
- 2 eggs, for scrambling
- 4 cups cold cooked rice
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp dark sauce
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- 4 fried eggs
- red chili
- prawn crackers
- Heat oil in large wok or skillet over medium high heat and stir fry chopped shallot for a minute. Add in chopped garlic and red chili and cook for a minute.
- Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 Tbsp kecap manis and stir fry till chicken is almost cooked and browed a bit.
- Move the chicken mixture to the sides of the wok, add splash of oil if needed, and add in shrimp paste. Move it around in the oil to dissolve it a little before stir-frying and mixing it through the remaining ingredients
- Move the mixture again to the sides, making a small well in the middle and scramble 2 eggs, and them mix with the rest of the mixture.
- Add in rice along with 2 Tbsp kecap manis, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce and a dash of turmeric. Stir fry till everything is well combined and the rice starts to caramelize a little.
- Serve fried rice with a crispy fried egg on top along with cucumber, tomato and prawn crackers.
- You can use any fresh red chili with a little heat like Thai red chilies or red fresno chilis. In its absence you can use red chili paste or even red chili flakes for the heat.
- Kecap Manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce that is thicker than other soy sauces. Sometimes it's just labelled as "sweet soy sauce". You can easily find this in most of Asian grocery stores. Cant find it? No problem!! Simply combine ¼ cup ordinary soy sauce and ¼ cup brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it becomes a maple syrup like consistency. It will thicken more when it cools.
- Shrimp paste is important to achieve authentic Nasi Goreng flavors. Though in its absence you can add 1 Tbsp fish sauce instead, to add that umami factor to the dish.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 438Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 350mgSodium 1137mgCarbohydrates 32gFiber 2gSugar 13gProtein 28g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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