The Best Way to Eat Nasi Lemak

The signature dish of Malaysia is Nasi Lemak.

Commonly people noted about this dish is the rice which has a distinctive fragrance and spicy-sweet sambal.

Alongside these two main grabbed attention is the garnishing, which is a hard-boiled egg, fried anchovies, fried peanuts and cucumber slices. 

Nasi Lemak With Spicy Sweet Sambal
Nasi Lemak with sliced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, deep-fried anchovies, groundnuts, and spicy sweet sambal.

Nasi Lemak is so famous that I can see plenty of sellers selling nasi lemak in my neighbourhood.

Some sell in restaurants, food courts and stalls.

As my hometown is commonly known for many wet markets, the seller can find fresh ingredients at a reasonable price.

The Nasi Lemak is a complete meal with nutrition and we can get it at an affordable price.

Here in my hometown with the simple presentation of the classic nasi lemak, it only costs a minimum of RM1.50.

However, depending on where we get the cuisine, sometimes nasi lemak can also become a luxurious meal. 

Some restaurants charged us a plate of Nasi Lemak ranging from RM15 to RM45 per serving in the Klang Valley.

However, I am apprehensive about the price and certainly, think many times before dining at an expensive restaurant. 

The rice 

The word nasi means rice and the word lemak is referring to the coconut milk that has been added to the rice.

In earlier days, the rice was cooked in an earthenware pot and firewood. 

Nowadays, the invention of the rice cooker has made life easier, add the ingredients and let it cooked. 

The main ingredients to cook nasi lemak is rice, coconut milk, water and salt.

Alternatively, you may add ginger slices, black pepper and pandan leave to add fragrance to it. 

The type of rice that we used in the making is white rice. Some may use jasmine rice or basmati rice.

The rice needs to be washed two to three times before being cooked. It is part of Malaysian’s routine to wash rice before cooking. 

The sambal

While making sambal we used dried chillies, onion, garlic, tamarind paste, shrimp paste (belacan), sugar and salt.

Ingredients to make Nasi Lemak
Ingredients to make a delicious nasi lemak. The quantity is in the recipe.

In my hometown, the sambal comes with a variety such as sambal kerang (spicy chilli cockles, sambal sotong (squid sambal), and sambal paru (beef lungs with chilli).

This made the dish not only can be eaten during breakfast but also can be eaten during lunch or dinner. 

My criteria for sambal must be spicy-sweet, reddish-brown in colour and cooked for at least 15 minutes within low heat.

The colour of the sambal will indicate how long it has been cooked. If the sambal is undercooked it will be reddish in colour and may cause stomach ache.

Thus, the preparation of sambal is very crucial even though it seems simple.  

Nasi Lemak tastes better if eaten with the right hand as most Malaysians do. To make it more scent, serve on cut banana leaves. 

As the banana leaves were natural packaging food in the earlier time, some still incorporate it in their way to serve nasi lemak. We call it nasi lemak bungkus.

Homemade Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is so famous that it has become a permanent meal on the fast-food chain restaurant in Malaysia.

The recipe of nasi lemak is different for everyone and I must say there is no right or wrong recipe, only the preference of the family members make it taste distinctively unique from one another. 

Preferably when the urge to eat comes, we rather cook our own. We can prepare more for every family to enjoy it as much as they wish.

The best nasi lemak depends on the whole process of cooking, starting from the selection of the ingredients.

Nasi Lemak

Preparation time: 20 minutes 

Cooking time: 50 minutes 

Serving size: 2 persons 

Ingredients for nasi lemak 

  • 1 cup of rice 
  • ¾ cup water 
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 5 cm ginger 
  • Pandan Leaf 
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Ingredients for sambal 

  • 20 dried chillies 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 4 red onions
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste 
  • 20 ml of cooking oil 
  • 10 ml tamarind juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Ingredients for garnishing 

  • 1 cup of cooking oil 
  • ¼ cup of peanuts
  • ½ cup anchovies 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 3 cups of water (to boil) 

Instructions for cooking nasi lemak

Rinse the rice and pour it into the pot.

Add water, coconut milk, ginger, pandan leaf and salt.

Cook using a rice cooker. 

Instructions for cooking sambal

Remove dried chilli seeds and soak for 10 minutes in plain water. This is to ensure that the texture of the sambal is smooth.

Blend together dried chilli, garlic, red onion and shrimp paste. 

Preheat the pan using medium heat and pour the cooking oil. Then added the blended mixture. 

Cook until it boils and adds in the tamarind juice, salt and sugar. 

Let the sambal cook well for 15 minutes or until it turns dark red. 

Fried the garnishing

Preheat the cooking oil in a frying pan. 

Place the peanut in the pan and deep-fried it

Fry it until it turns light brown or cooks for 5 minutes. 

Using the same oil, deep-fried the anchovies and cook until it turns slightly brown or fried for 5 minutes. 

Prepared the egg

Place the egg in a pot. Add in water. 

Then boil it for 15 minutes to prepare a hard-boiled egg.

Slice the cucumber

Slice the cucumber in a circular manner.

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