This is typically made with a dried shrimp paste called belacan but it is very pungent and I have had friends living in Europe who had complaints made against them by neighbours because of their cooking with belacan. I very rarely use belacan in my own cooking so I don’t feel it’s worth the space in my crammed pantry to have it there, but I know most Malay kitchens wouldn’t be complete without it. As a substitute for belacan, I’ve found that using canned anchovy results in a satisfyingly similar flavour without the pungency that some can’t bear. Even if you do use belacan, I would recommend you not use more than 1/2 a teaspoon, and it should be added to the wok and dry fried, set aside before proceeding with the recipe below. Add the toasted belacan back to the wok in place of the anchovy. (If you buy belacan, get the Malaysian variety for this one. Thai belacan is not the same as Malay belacan and tastes very different)
I prefer this with green chilli, but some might like it with red chilli, both ways are perfectly acceptable by any self-respecting Malay. Generally speaking, this dish isn’t made with any other protein apart from egg; it’s meant to be a quick meal by a tired cook. But as always, feel free to play around with it. I have in the past added fried, dried anchovy at the very end to maintain crunch, I’ve added finely chopped up cabbage, or bok choy, and in today’s variation I put left over Christmas turkey. I’m sure my mother would frown at the addition of the turkey, but seriously, it was fine.
Nasi Goreng Jawa
Nasi goreng jawa traditionally would NOT have turkey in it. But because I'm trying to get through the turkey I have, I'm throwing some in so don't get confused with the pictures that follow!
Place the onions, garlic cloves and green chillies into your blender, stick blender canister or grinder. Blend or grind to a rough puree.
Heat 2-3tbsp oil in your wok or saucepan.
Over medium heat, allow the oil to come up to heat, but not smoking hot. Fry one egg at a time to make some 3 sunny side ups. Set aside.
Add 3-4 tbsp oil to the empty wok and give it about a minute to heat up. Add the onion puree and over med-high heat, tumis (saute) for about 7 minutes, depending on how wet it was to start with. The water needs to evaporate in order for frying to take place, which is what we want.
Add the anchovy, and smush it into the mixture in the wok. (I added turkey here at this point to allow them to take on a bit more colour and absorb some 'local' flavour.) Give it about 3 minutes.
Add the rice, and salt. stir, fry, stir, fry. About 1 minute.
Push the rice to the sides of the wok to leave a space in the middle. Break the remaining 3 eggs in this space and casually break it up to scramble. Give it about 2 minutes.
When the eggs are about 3/4 quarters cooked, combine it with the rice, breaking it up to about teaspoon size bites.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with the fried eggs and a sprinkling of fried onion if you have any.