Nasi Goreng - finished dish

Nasi Goreng – Balinese sunshine in winter

June 28, 2021
3 mins read

Nasi Goreng is not only easy to make and incredibly tasty but it’ll warm you up in winter. PAT PILCHER shows you the way to a happy tummy.

Nasi Goreng – finished dish

One of the biggest frustrations with the whole Covid-19 situation has been the lack of international travel. With winter’s cold, dark and damp misery, jetting off to somewhere sunny like Bali seems like an impossible dream.

While there isn’t much that can be done about travel, I can put a little piece of Balinese sunshine on a plate with Nasi Goreng, which is not only available everywhere in Bali but is utterly delicious, too.

Nasi Goreng is incredibly easy to make, and it uses simple ingredients that can be bought in most NZ supermarkets. From Indonesian or Malay, Nasi Goreng literally translates into ‘fried rice’. I love to add green chilli, carrots, capsicum, garlic and some ginger. While chicken is traditionally used, you can add beef, or even skip meat altogether.


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Nasi Goreng uses kecap manis, which is otherwise known as sweet soy sauce. It does two things. Firstly, it caramelises on the rice to give it a dark brown colour, and secondly, it helps give the rice a wonderful umami/sweet flavour. The other ingredient is Sambal Olek, a chilli paste.

The traditional way of making Nasi Goreng uses a small amount of dried shrimp (belacan), but if you are allergic to shrimp, a small amount of thai fish sauce (which is also available from most New Zealand supermarkets) does the trick. If you do choose to cook it with shrimp, using shrimp paste instead of dried shrimp is also much less fiddly.

Ingredients (serves 2)

Nasi Goreng – ingredients
  • 1 cup of long-grained rice (jasmine or basmati)
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 200g of chicken or beef (or just vegetables!) cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp of Kecap Manis
  • 1 tblspn of Sambal Olek
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp (or shrimp paste, or Thai fish sauce)
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 spring onions cut into angled pieces
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, skinned and cut finely
  • 1 medium-sized carrot cut into fine bite-sized sticks
  • 1 capsicum cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 3 green chilli finely chopped
  • 1 egg (per serve)
  • 3-4 slices of cucumber (per serve)
  • 2-3 slices of fresh tomato (per serve)


Prepping the rice

The not-so-secret trick to great Nasi Goreng is not hot, freshly cooked rice. It’ll get sticky and make a mess on the bottom of your wok/pan and just won’t taste right. Instead, cook the rice and let it cool. Using cold dry rice works because the sauce ingredients will coat each grain of rice and caramelise, giving your Nasi Goreng that golden brown colour and amazing flavour.

Prepping the rice is a doddle. For those lucky enough to own a Thermomix, use this bomb-proof Thermomix recipe. Who’d have thought that the Thermomix was also a rice cooker?

If you don’t have a Thermomix, use my perfect rice recipe.

Once the rice is cooked, spread it out on an oven tray then freeze it for 1–2 hours. If there is not enough room in the freezer, refrigerate it for 3–4 hours. Both options will not only cool the rice but will also make the surface of the rice dry out, which makes for better stir-frying with a sauce.

On no account should you ever leave the rice at room temperature for longer than 10-20 minutes as it can quickly become a food poisoning hazard.

Nasi Goreng – cooling the rice

Cooking it!

  • Add some oil to a wok/heavy-bottomed pan, heating to a medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, fresh green chilli, onion and spring onion. Stir fry until the onion begins to turn transparent.
  • Add the chicken (or beef), stir fry for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
    Add the rice, Kecap Manis, Sambal Olek and shrimp/shrimp paste or fish sauce (or none).
  • Stir fry for several minutes until the rice grains start to caramelise. When it’s ready, it’ll smell amazing
  • Serve!
Nasi Goreng – stir-frying everything

Nasi Goreng should be served with a fried egg (sunny side up) and some freshly chopped cucumber plus a few slices of fresh tomato and a cold lager/pilsner or IPA.

If you want to get really fancy, pack the fried rice into a small bowl so the bowl is filled to its edge. Place the serving plate upside down, over the top of the bowl and flip both over and remove the bowl. You should have a neat bowl-shaped pile of rice that can be garnished with the egg, cucumber and tomato. Enjoy!


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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