Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Homemade Vegan Nasi Goreng Recipe, Delicious Indonesian Fried Rice, Gluten Free, Frugal, Paleo Option

Growing up, as far as I knew, there was one dish called fried rice. And it was made the way my dad made it. Rice. Veggies. Soy sauce, chicken broth, ginger, garlic, sugar, vinegar. That's it. And supposedly its origins were in China. But then I learned there are infinite varieties of fried rice, mostly Asian, oh, and on my trip to Greece this last summer, I found out there is also a Greek rice called "fried rice".

This type of fried rice, Nasi Goreng, is Indonesian in origin, though they do make it around the world, and it is a staple in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands. I only learned about it recently, when I saw someone say that it was her favorite dish, and looking it up, there are so many varieties of it, each recipe as different as the next. However, there were some things I noticed that made it different than the "standard" Chinese fried rice that I grew up in.

Number one, is the fish. Nasi Goreng nearly always has shrimp paste, and sweet soy sauce called kecap manis. Secondly, there are many varieties that have candlenuts in it. And then it often has ketchup or tomatoes in the sauce, and it also often has nutmeg and turmeric in it. (I thought to myself "why nutmeg?" but then saw a video on Indonesia where it explained that it is one of its national crops, so that started making sense to me.)

These flavors together sounded wacky and far fetched to me, to be honest. But if its such a common and popular food there and around the world, it must taste good. I already learned to overcome reluctance to put tomatoes with soy sauce (as I was taught as a kid) when I learned about Japanese yakisoba noodles, but still this combination threw me for a loop.

After having learned about the trick of putting ground nori in recipes instead of shellfish to give it a fishy taste for my laksa recipe, I decided to give it a try here.

I will admit, I was a little bit apprehensive about trying this out, so I made it when my kids were in bed and just a small enough batch for me, so that in case it didn't taste good, I wouldn't have a lot of waste.

But oh boy, my apprehension was for nothing. It tastes amazing and wonderful and I had enough left for my kids to try it and they were sad that there wasn't more and asked me to please make it again. Which I will, especially now that I overcame this hurdle and see just how delicious it can be.

The sauce ingredient list is quite extensive, but it's definitely worth it. Feel free to play around with the sauce to get it to suit your taste, especially since there isn't just one version of nasi goreng. If you don't like tomatoes, apparently you can use tamarind instead, some versions have lemon grass. Leave out the almonds if you don't eat nuts. If you don't have molasses feel free to leave it out, and feel free to replace the sugar with whatever sweetener you do use (though something with a slight burnt taste like date syrup or jaggery syrup will be best, because kecap manis does have a molasses like taste).
To make this paleo, use coconut sugar as the sweetener, and use cauliflower rice in place of the rice.

This is the perfect thing to do with leftover rice, and in fact, that is what is generally used, because less fresh rice fries up better. I used the vegetables I did because it was what I had in the house, but feel free to use your favorite veggies for stir fry for this, or throw in your leftover vegetables, or even leave out the veggies. You can also add raw veggies at the end. That's how it is generally made- literally using whatever you have on hand. I put in tofu because found half a block I had in my freezer and decided to use it, but its totally fine to leave it out.

There is a concept of adding crunch to your nasi goreng before serving, which is why my recipe involves topping it with fried onions, fried tofu, and fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, but you don't have to, and feel free to leave that out or replace it with something else crunchy.

Oh, and if you have a food processor, feel free to use that to make the sauce smooth. I didn't and just sorta mashed it with a wooden spoon in a jar, mortar and pestle style.

Play around and have fun!

Homemade Vegan Nasi Goreng Recipe, Delicious Indonesian Fried Rice, Gluten Free, Frugal, Paleo Option

Sauce Ingredients:
2 teaspoons slivered almonds (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger or equivalent amount dried
1/2 cup chopped tomato (1/2 a tomato, save the other half)
1/3 cup gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon demerara sugar or sweetener of choice
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 tsp molasses
1- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground nori (roughly 1 1/2 sheets)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1-2 hot peppers or to taste (optional)
Nasi Goreng Ingredients
1 cup oil (or less, but this really helps it not stick)
2 onions
Half a block of firm tofu, chopped (optional)
1 pack mushrooms
1 zucchini
1 red pepper
1/2 head broccoli
3 cups rice or cauliflower rice
1 cucumber (optional)
1/2 tomato (optional)
Hot pepper (optional)
Scallions (optional)

1. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together, adjusting to taste. Mash up with a mortar and pestle or blend in a food processor or blender.

2. Slice one onion into half circles and fry in oil until crisping. Remove from oil and strain. Fry your tofu (if using) in your oil until crispy, then remove and strain.

3. Chop your other onion and fry in a frying pan or wok until golden.

4. Chop your mushrooms and add. I prefer my mushrooms larger so I slice in halves or quarters depending on the size, but this is up to you. Fry until starting to lightly brown.

5. Chop zucchini, broccoli, and peppers, add, and cook until al dente (or however cooked you like this).

6. Add your rice and mix well, stirring frequently, because now is the time that everything will try sticking to the pan or wok.

7. Add your sauce, and cook for a few minutes, stirring the whole time.

8. Serve topped with your toppings of choice, such as your fried onions and tofu, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, sliced hot peppers, and scallions. This is also typically served with a sunny side up egg on top, but I leave that out.


Have you ever heard of or had nasi goreng before? If you make it, what do you put in yours? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to hear you aren't supposed to mix tomatoes and soy sauce, because I figured I like the combination and I always put soy sauce in my Italian style tomato salsa (that I use as a sauce with spaghetti, or for a pizza). :)


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