Authentic Balinese Nasi Goreng
After our travels to China, Thailand and Cambodia a couple of years ago, we have finally managed to go back to Far Asia, this time to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and the tropical paradise island of Bali in Indonesia. You can imagine, that our anticipation of the local food couldn’t have been bigger and I can tell you – we were not disappointed. Balinese food is not fancy or complicated, but extremely tasty. Usually a pretty basic Balinese sauce is used to season the grilled meat and Chicken as well as lots of fish and seafood. Vegetables are mostly stir-fried or cooked with herbs and the sauce. Bali has its own type of rice, which is not only due to the island’s own agriculture. Balinese rice terraces are indeed a sight for sore eyes and one of the most visited spots by many travelers to Bali.
The main contender for Indonesia’s national dish, most Indonesians and also travelers can agree on, Nasi Goreng, is being offered in each and every Warung (small, mostly family-owned restaurants) throughout the country. It’s cooked rice, stir-fried in a paste of herbs with Chicken and/or Prawns and sweet soy sauce – or in the Balinese version, with Oyster sauce, one of the main differences to the way it’s prepared on the mainland of the fourth most populous country in the world.
Nasi Goreng is possibly one of the few dishes everyone has heard of, but no one has ever tried yet . Nearly all low or mid-ranged Asian restaurants in Vienna have it in their menu and describe it as an Indonesian stir-fried rice, which it is, but there is of course more to it’s taste than the simplicity of its description.
Let me get one thing out of the way, Nasi Goreng is a basic traditional dish. It’s not fancy, it’s a dish everyone eats and every place offers. It’s possibly the number one dish among all the many budget-travelers, backpackers and Namaste-seeking nutjobs scattered all over the island making sure they don’t starve on their way to enlightenment.
After spending a couple of days in Bali’s bustling capital, Kuta, we reconsidered whether we really wanted to stay two weeks spending hours every day in traffic jams on our way back and forth from our day trips to other parts of the island, therefore we moved to the beautiful north of Bali. Lovina is a small town to the west of the former capital of Bali, Singaranja. It is also the main hub for going on a dolphin watching tour. The people of Lovina are so proud of their dolphins, they have even put up a nice dolphin statue on a small square next to the main beach.
Before you ask, no, this was not the only photo I made of the statue. And yes, I like the statue.
Not far from the square and the nearby beach, is a nice family-owned small Warung named Warung Jegeg. See also on Tripadvisor. Lovina is in general not really a so-called beaten track, so finding places outside the tourist scope are just a matter of luck. Thanks to Tripadvisor, this problem is becoming more and more a part of the past. This nice Warung even offered cooking classes, which we participated in, therefore I am also dedicating this post to the talented Wayan, owner of the Warung and our resourceful and experienced teacher during the cooking class.
The original recipe was slightly changed and the recipe below is adapted to the way I have prepared the dishes myself so ingredients and the quantities might vary slightly. The recipe is fully credited to Wayan. Be creative when preparing the meal and see what suits your personal taste. Especially varying the quantities of Galangal & Chili can make a big difference in the result and improve the meal to your personal taste.
This is a traditional Balinese recipe for Nasi Goreng. We learned it from a cooking class in a warung in Lovina, Bali. This recipe serves 4 people.
- 320 grams rice
- 800 grams Chicken breast
- 0,5 Red Onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 Chili
- 3 cm Galangal
- 3 cm Turmeric
- 0.5 tsp Shrimp paste
- 3 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 litre Fresh drinking water
- 5 tbsp Oyster sauce
- 100 grams Coriander
Put the rice into a big bowl of water. Set aside.
Cut the chicken breast into short small slices. Set aside.
Preheat the stove. Wash and rinse the rice. Put it into a coated pot and add up approximately 700 ml of water. Put the pot on the stove and wait until the water starts boiling. Lower the heat to medium. Cover the rice. Check the rice every couple of minutes. Add water if needed. Take of the stove as soon as the rice is soft.
Cut the onion, garlic, chili, galangal, turmeric and into small pieces.
Put it into a mortar and grind. Add the shrimp paste. Keep grinding until you have a paste.
Heat up the sauce pan or preferably a wok with the Coconut oil. Add the the meat and stir until the it's half done.
Add the paste. Keep stirring. Add some Oyster sauce. Continue stirring.
Add the rice, mix it with the meat and the paste. Keep stirring until the rice is fried.
Optional: Prepare the cilantro. Wash and cut the cilantro into small pieces.
Serve the Nasi Goreng. Optionally garnish with the prepared cilantro.
As much as I find it nice and romantic to use a mortar, grinding with a mortar is physical work and takes longer. Feel free to use a blender, but add some dashes of water and oil. Cilantro is optional and not part of the Authentic recipe, but does not make the recipe less tasty in any way, unless you don't like cilantro. I recommend using a (coated) Wok. I use my own induction wok for larger quantities (6 persons or more). If your Wok is not coated, take extra care with the heat and always keep stirring.