Saturday, December 16

Nasi Lemak: The Famous Malaysian National Heritage.

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Have you heard about nasi lemak before? If you have been to Malaysia or Singapore or Brunei, I’m sure you already seen one. But if you never been to these three countries you might have heard about it. Maybe from someone who has been to Malaysia, Singapore or Brunei, or from someone you know who comes from these countries, or you read about it in books of recipes. No matter how you heard about nasi lemak, instead of just knowing the existense you should try one.

Literally nasi lemak means ‘rice in cream’ because it is cooked with coconut milk in it. Long time ago, nasi lemak was eaten only for breakfast because it contains more fat derived from the coconut milk so it would give more energy for man to do their heavy works. Nowadays, people enjoy eating nasi lemak no matter what time it is. But still it is a common breakfast until today.

Traditionally, nasi lemak is eaten with its sambal (red hot and spicy gravy), hard boiled egg, fried dried anchovies, fried peanuts and slices of cucumber. Altogether, nasi lemak with these accompaniments is wrapped in banana leaf. Nowadays, nasi lemak is also eaten with other accompaniment such as chicken, prawn, sardine fish, cuttlefish, cockle, beef rendang (beef soaked in spices and stewed in coconut milk), fried water convolvulus and pickled vegetables. Most of these accompaniment is made hot and spicy.

In Malaysia, nasi lemak is widely served and eaten from primary schools to cafes in universities, from small stalls by the roadside to five stars hotels in cities.

To prepare nasi lemak my way, these are the ingredient that you need:

  1. 2 cups of rice. (washed and drained)

  2. 1 cup of water and 1 cup of coconut milk.

  3. 2 shallots. (peeled and thinly sliced)

  4. 1cm of ginger. (peeled and thinly sliced)

  5. a strip of Screwpine or amaryllis leaf (knotted. It can be substituted with lemon grass).

  6. a pinch of salt.

Put the ingredients altogether in a pot, bring to boil and leave it until the liquid nearly absorbed. When it’s nearly absorbed, stir it, reduce the heat then cover the pot and let it cook until it is done. There are two ways to cook nasi lemak, whether you boil it or steam it. To steam it, first you have to wash the rice, then steam until it is half cooked. Then take it out and soak it for about 3 to 4 hours so that the size of the rice grain would become twice longer. To let it cooled faster, you can change the water frequently. When the rice grain is already twice longer, drained the water, mix the rice with sliced shallots and ginger and steam it again for about 15 minutes or until it is cooked. Then take it out and mix the rice with the coconut milk which has been add with salt. Leave it for about 10 minutes so that the coconut milk is absorbed. Then steam the rice again with the screwpine leaf until it is done.

To prepare the gravy my way of course, what you need are:

  1. 3 to 4 shallots (smashed).

  2. 3 to 4 cloves of garlics (smashed).

  3. a fistful of dried anchovies (washed and smashed)

  4. 3 to 4 tablespoonsful of dried chili paste.

  5. 3 to 4 tablespoons of chili sauce.

  6. 4 tablespoons of tamarind juice.

  7. 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar.

  8. salt to taste.

  9. a pinch of seasoning powder.

  10. some oil.

Pour some oil into a cooking pan and heat the oil. When the oil is hot enough, put in the smashed shallots and garlics, (you can add the lemon grass if you like) stir until they turn golden brown. After that add in the smashed dried anchovies and stir. Right after that, put in the dried chili paste and stir for about 2 minutes, then add in the chili sauce, salt, sugar and the seasoning and stir again until fragrant. Then add the tamarind juice and stir. Let it cook for a few minutes or until it is thick. Your red and hot gravy is now ready.

Now, what you need to do is to prepare the hard boiled egg, fried dried anchovies, fried peanuts and sliced cucumber. If you prefer to have fried egg, then don’t boil the egg.

Enjoy your nasi lemak!

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