Make your own Nasi lemak SAMBAL
Everyone knows nasi lemak, the unofficial national dish. It’s the simplest dish ever as it just uses a few main ingredients, half of it doesn’t even require real cooking – cucumber, hardboiled egg, fried anchovies and roasted peanuts.
Apart from the nasi lemak – rice cooked with coconut milk – the key that distinguishes this dish from the fakes is the sambal. Some are sweeter, some more salty than sweet, some spicy and sour – there are so many variants and everyone has their own opinion on what they like.
You can also add other dishes such as curry chicken, beef rendang or whatever else you fancy. Therein lies the difference between nasi lemak kosong (basic just rice and condiments) and nasi lemak ayam (which comes with chicken or beef rendang, depending what you add to it).
The basic rice set without any meat, often wrapped in a triangular brown paper packet and popularly eaten for breakfast/supper, used to be only 50 sen (USD15cents), but now, you’re lucky if you can find one at RM1.20 in the Klang Valley.
I’ve shied away from making my own sambal simply because I didn’t really know how. I mean, I knew more or less how it went, but I never really attempted to try it. Seemed like too much work.
Recently, an Indonesian friend shared her recipe and suddenly it clicked! Conventionally, it’s oil first, heat it up and then throw in the paste and fry until it’s fragrant. What’s different about her recipe though, and I feel the trick to the sambal, is that she fried the chilli paste FIRST without any oil, dried up the concoction a bit, and then only added the oil later.
Seems to work, and a lot less splatter too!
The condiments are the same as Sambal belimbing (see earlier post) – fresh chilli, dry chilli, shallots, garlic, belacan, serai – I added one Bombay onion as well. Blend the lot, fry the paste in a wok for a while till it’s drier, add some oil. Then, add some assam jawa (tamarind paste plus water – you only use the liquid), salt and sugar to taste.
Achievement unlocked, now who wants to come over for some nasi lemak?