“It is no wonder that Indonesians eat nasi goreng for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” says Lara Lee, the author of Coconut and Sambal: Recipes from My Indonesian Kitchen. Leftover rice is transformed into an umami-laden fried rice topped with a crispy fried egg and a side of crunchy kerupuk (savory prawn crackers that stimulate the appetite). Named as one of Indonesia’s national dishes and described by some as the world’s greatest comfort food, nasi goreng is often seasoned with a combination of light soy, the fermented sweet soy sauce kecap manis, chiles, turmeric, and white pepper. Lee’s version is a feast of texture and flavor, adding the fresh citrusy zing of the lemongrass and makrut lime to the sambal matah, a beloved condiment eaten all over the island of Bali. (If you want to make it vegan, simply omit the fried egg.)
small shallots, thinly sliced
Zest and juice of 1 makrut (Thai) lime or 1 regular lime
makrut (Thai) lime leaves, thinly sliced, or zest and juice of 1 regular lime
lemongrass stalks, bottom third only, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced
long red chiles (such as Holland or Fresno), finely chopped, seeds removed if you prefer less heat
1½” piece ginger, peeled, cut into matchsticks
garlic clove, thinly sliced
Palm sugar or brown sugar
Sunflower oil or other neutral oil (for drizzling)
Tbsp. virgin coconut oil or sunflower oil, divided
leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
small shallots, thinly sliced
long red chile (such as Holland or Fresno), thinly sliced, seeds removed if you prefer less heat
tsp. ground turmeric
bok choy, coarsely chopped
cups cooled cooked jasmine or basmati rice
Tbsp. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
tsp. light soy sauce
tsp. tomato purée
tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground white pepper
Homemade or store-bought fried shallots (for serving)
scallion, thinly sliced on a diagonal
Kerupuk or prawn crackers (optional)
Place shallots in a small bowl and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Let sit at least 15 minutes. This will take the raw edge off them.
Mix makrut lime zest and juice, makrut lime leaves, lemongrass, chiles, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Add shallots and add palm sugar to taste. Taste and season with more salt and/or lime juice if needed. Drizzle with oil; set aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large wok or skillet over medium. Add leek and shallots and cook, stirring, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add chile and turmeric and cook, stirring, 2 minutes, then add bok choy and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add rice to pan and cook, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon and stirring to combine well, until rice is warmed through. Add kecap manis, soy sauce, tomato purée, and vinegar and stir well to combine, then stir in sambal matah. Remove fried rice from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Crack eggs into pan and cook until whites are partially cooked, 2–3 minutes. Tilt pan and spoon hot oil over egg whites until fully cooked (I like my yolk runny, but cook yours to your liking). Season with salt.
Divide fried rice between plates and top with fried shallots, scallion and a fried eggs. Serve with crackers if desired.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Coconut & Sambal, by Lara Lee (Bloomsbury Publishing). Copyright © 2020.