Though fried rice are a common dish throughout Asia, Indonesian Nasi Goreng has its own unique style which clearly differentiate it from other kind of fried rice, hence why it is among the most well known Indonesian food, beside of the Gado-Gado and Sate (Satay).
At the WESC 2010 itself, according to Kompas, Indonesian Pavilion manage to sell at least 700 portions of Nasi Goreng Indonesia each day! Which mean to date, they have already sold about 126,700 portions of Indonesian fried rice!
According to Indonesian Ministry of Commerce, Mari Elka Pangestu, there was a discussion to determine what kind of dish Indonesia would bring to the Expo to symbolize our national cuisine. Previously Rawon and Soto were the strong nominates, but then the President suggested that we should present Nasi Goreng Indonesia instead.
Nasi Goreng Indonesia differs with the rest of its siblings with the dominant use of kecap manis. Kecap manis, which is the Indonesian version of sweet fermented soy sauce, help gives the unique dark sweetness flavour to the dish. Along with the use of kecap manis, you will also find that fried shallot sprinkle is a standard, as so are fried egg and kerupuk udang (shrimp flavoured crackers). Within the rice compound you will usually found dices of chicken meat, sliced bakso (meatball), and traces of garlic. As the matter of fact, that is the most common style of Nasi Goreng Indonesia you will find in Indonesia. The modern and internationalized version of Nasi Goreng Indonesia however, often includes also sate ayam (chicken satay) as the side dish, and they created a wonderful harmony nevertheless. As another common condiments, the common version Nasi Goreng Indonesia sold in its native environment would also put in mixed pickles consisting of diced cucumber, half shallot, and whole bird eye chilly.
As a word of caution though, when you're intended to have Nasi Goreng Indonesia in a more authentic settlement, you have to make sure that you want it with or without the sliced chillies, because usually a small dose of those is a common factor that inject "live" into the dish; just a mild heat though, but would become irritating for those unfamiliar with chillies nonetheless.
(As a matter of fact, when you're eating in Indonesia, be prepared to make sure that every kind of dish has chillies included in one way or another or not, because one of the basic character of Indonesian food is hot)
At the street peddlers, the sliced chillies in nasi goreng usually are substituted with the even more punching sambal made from bird eye chilly (cabe rawit). Please make sure.
Preparing for Nasi Goreng IndonesiaWikipedia wrote that fried rice dish was emerged from the custom of Chinese culture who dislikes cold meal, and combined with their reluctance to throw away food. Combined with other left overs from yesterday's meal, fried rice is a luxury created from a day's old food.
It is also the same case with Nasi Goreng Indonesia; to create a good one, it's best to use a day's old cooked rice. This was due because those rice have lost some of their moisture thus avoiding the lumping together during cooking, absorbs the seasoning well, and still maintaining its grain shapes, whereas a new cooked rice would become mushy and broken during pan frying.
But nevertheless, with the popularity of Nasi Goreng Indonesia as an easy to cook meal, this dish has becoming a major commodity in the Indonesian food market, and the preparation has been revolutionized also. Expert Nasi Goreng Indonesia chef with years of experience under their sleeves will already knows what kind of rice to choose (sometimes you have to mix among different varieties), how long to cook them, and how to pre process them before cooked into Nasi Goreng Indonesia. The variant of rice used usually are those geared toward "pera" instead of "pulen" varieties; the less sticky one. For more information about those lingo, please read this article about Indonesian Rice.
Another common method of preprocessing the freshly cooked rice is to air them to enable the trapped moisture to escape and to further separates the grains to avoid lumping. This is usually done traditionally with "akeul" method of flipping the rice mass over and over again, until there's only a small amount of vapour visible. The rice then needs to be left cooling off for a while, until the temperature is much reduced. The result will be easy to separate grains with just enough moisture.
Afterward, heat the pan in medium heat, add the chopped shallot and garlic, fry the chicken and bakso, put in and the sliced chillies. Turn the heat into low, add the rice in small amount, pour the kecap manis, salt, and seasoning, mix them well, and then add another amount of the rice, and mix them well also. Unless you're making it in a small portion, this partial addition of rice helps to make sure that seasoning are mixed evenly, and no lumping formed. Test the rice for final adjust of the taste, turn the heat into high for the last touch, and flip the rice over again for few times to add the caramelized taste.
Sprinkle some fried shallots on top, serve it with sate ayam, kerupuk udang, and acar, and your Nasi Goreng Indonesia is ready, selamat makan!
Versatile dish Nasi Goreng isApart from the convention of common style accepted as Nasi Goreng Indonesia, fried rice in essence is a wonderful dish to cook and to eat, since it has the endless possibility of recipes and pairing combination. You can have it mixed with scrambled egg, or have it with sunny side up (runny is the best imho), or top it with sliced omelette, and it still tasted good. If you grow tired with the same sate ayam pairing, then fried chicken and other kind of meat protein would be a good pairing. In Aceh region, they even serves nasi goreng with selectable condiments; from the mandatory salted fish, fried chilly, and fried peanut, to the heavier choice of fried chicken, deep fried squid, shrimp, and fresh water eel. Sausage and beef jerky are also great. The idea of the pairing is; keep the condiments less complicated, because the taste of nasi goreng itself usually is already rich and complex.
The endless possibility and the variations a Nasi Goreng could have, is also the reason why I usually order this dish on a new restaurant I visited, to get a glimpse of the restaurant's quality. Can the chef make a simple dish great? You may make it Indonesian style with kecap manis and a bit of spiciness from the chillies, Each ones may have a different approach and it's all permissible.
On the other hand, if they failed on such a simple dish then I will have a big question mark in my head related to the taste and quality of other menu served at the restaurant. Well it's not always the case the about 90% of the time the Nasi Goreng trial will prove worthy.
How about you? Have you had any good Nasi Goreng Indonesia encounter recently? And how would you like it to be prepared, share with us! (byms)