This delicious, fragrant coconut rice was served at a breakfast I recently attended at the Darlington Centre, Sydney University. Malaysian-born food writer Carol SelvaRajah had been invited by the Sydney University Women's Association to give a talk about her memoir, Dining with Dragons.
Known as the national dish of Malaysia, nasi lemak is traditionally served with ikan bilis (see below) roasted peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, cucumber and chilli sambal (see below). In Malaysia, you'll find it served at any time of the day, as a snack, for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, tea or supper.
This recipe is from Carol's book.
- Prep Time : 30 minutes
- Cook Time : 30 minutes
- Yield : 3 - 4
- long grain rice (such as jasmine) - 2 cups
- thick coconut cream - 1 cup
- onion - 1, very finely diced
- salt - 1 teaspoon
- Ikan Bilis
- dried whitebait - 250g
- vegetable oil - 1 cup
- roasted peanuts - 200g
- garlic salt - 1 teaspoon
- icing sugar - 1 teaspoon
- chilli powder - 1/2 tespoon, or to taste
- boiled eggs - 3 -4, sliced lengthways
- telegraph cucumber - 1 medium, washed and sliced
Place rice in a heavy-based saucepan, cover with water, stir several times, then strain off water. Repeat several times until the water runs clear.
Add the coconut cream, diced onion and salt. Add enough water so that it reaches 3.5 centimetres above the level of the rice.
Cook uncovered on a high heat for 8-10 minutes. Lower heat, half cover rice with pot lid and cook for a further 8 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed by rice.
Remove saucepan from heat, cover tightly with pot lid and allow rice to finish cooking in its own steam (another 10 minutes).
Run a fork through rice before serving.
For the Ikan Bilis: Heat oil until it smokes. Fry a cupful of fish and as soon as it is browning remove and drain on paper. Complete the frying and keep draining
Mix fish with peanuts and sprinkle over the seasoning.
To serve: spoon the coconut rice onto a serving platter lined with banana or pandan leaves, top with ikan bilis and garnish with sliced boiled eggs and cucumber slices. Serve with chilli sambal and lime wedges.
Note: In Malaysia, pandan (or screwpine) leaves are also used to flavour the rice. If you manage to find some, drag the tines of a fork through two pandan leaves until shredded. Tie into a knot and place on top of the rice in the pot. Remove the leaves before serving. You'll find them in Asian grocery stores.
Chilli Sambal (sambal oelek): blend 500g red chillies (preferably serrano chillies), seeded if required, 125g peeled garlic and 125g peeled chopped ginger in a food processor with 1/2 cup extra-light olive oil and salt to taste. Once blended, place the mixture in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic or coconut vinegar, season and stir well, then pile into sterilised jars. Can be stored in fridge for up to 6 months.