No one knows where fried rice originated. Lots of countries adopted it as their own with variations (e.g., Spanish paella, Thai fried rice, Italian risotto, Indian biryani, French pilaf and Hawaiian fried rice). Leftover cooked rice is usually the common thread, an extremely inexpensive ingredient.
Nasi Goreng (which literally means “rice fried” in Indonesian) is spicy and full of bright flavors, just the thing to pick you up on a crisp early fall night. In Indonesia, the taste can differ dramatically depending on the region and the proximity to the ocean.
For a good result, the rice should be allowed to cool to room temperature before making the dish. Keep that in mind and plan ahead. If the rice is warm, it will become oily when stir-fried.
As long as you have cooked and cooled rice, the cooking will go quickly. So it’s essential to have all of the ingredients prepared and ready. That way, the dish takes just a few minutes to put together.
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I like to use serrano chiles, but any small, hot, flavorful chile like jalapeno or Thai chiles will work well. Avoid Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles unless you like your food extremely hot and spicy. Finally, roasted peanuts may not be authentic, but adding them as a garnish looks pretty and tastes delicious.
A few tips:
▪ Long grain rice, which comes out fluffier and is less sticky than other types of rice, is best for fried rice dishes.
▪ Scramble two eggs separately and add to the rice in the final stage of cooking.
▪ Cook the shrimp and vegetables separately and add in the final stage of cooking.
▪ Be careful working with chiles. Always wear rubber gloves, wash the cutting surface and knife right away, and don’t touch your eyes.
Contact Diane Rossen Worthington at www.seriouslysimple.com.
Nasi Goreng With Shrimp (Indonesian-Style Fried Rice)
1 1/ 2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup peanut oil, divided
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 small green or red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 pound fresh bean sprouts (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
1/2 cup roasted shelled peanuts
At least three hours ahead, heat 3 cups of water on medium-high heat until boiling in a large saucepan with a lid. Add the rice and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and transfer the rice to a large baking sheet or strip of wax paper to cool, separating any clumps of rice. Cool to room temperature.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large wok or saute pan on high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add carrots, mushrooms and red pepper and stir-fry about 1 minute or until slightly softened. Add the shrimp and green onions and toss every 15 to 20 seconds for 1 to 2 minutes or until the shrimp are just pink. Remove the vegetables and shrimp to a bowl and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the wok. When the oil is very hot, stir-fry the shallots for 1 to 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger and chiles and toss about 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add the rice, spreading it all around and halfway up the sides of the pan. Cook about 10 seconds, then toss to combine and coat the ingredients. Add the paprika, ketchup and soy sauce and toss to blend. Add the reserved vegetables and shrimp and toss again. Add the bean sprouts and toss once more. Taste for seasoning.
Transfer to a large serving bowl or platter and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.