For my first post of the decade, I figured I needed to start with something that was timeless, a dish that my mother learned how to cook from her mother, and her mother, well I’m not sure who she learned to cook it from, but it was definitely brought over on a boat from Holland, but probably not on that first journey.
As anyone who has visited Holland should know, some of the best food you can get there is Indonesian, a result of over 100 years of the Dutch occupation of the islands in the South Pacific. Just like our “ethnic food” sections of the grocery stores are filled with taco shells, pasta and lo mein noodles, Dutch groceries have mixes for Nasi and Bami Goreng, Indonesian fried rice and noodle dishes. I can’t say when this was first introduced to my Oma, she had a cousin who moved to Indonesia after the war and lived there until the Dutch were booted from the country in the 1960’s. His wife learned how to cook from the locals and is one of the best cooks that I know.
One of the dishes that my family picked up either from her or elsewhere was Nasi Goreng, which is essentially an Indonesian fried rice. I doubt that anyone in Indonesia would eat my family’s version of this dish considering the fact that we use ham and their veggies are probably more interesting than frozen peas, onions and cabbage, but this is the way that I have always had it and it has become serious comfort food for me.
We have always used shrimp in our Nasi Goreng, an ingredient that I have started to leave out since my husband is allergic, but the shrimp is an ingredient that I wouldn’t skip. The Dutch use tiny cocktail shrimp, but you can use the bug guys too!
- 1 ½ cups of rice
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ of one small cabbage, chopped
- ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 cup ham, chopped
- 1 cup of small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 eggs (1 egg per person)
- butter for frying eggs
A few hours before you stir-fry the vegetables prepare the rice, since friend rice is usually made from leftover rice that has dried out, it should be cooled and extra sticky.
Heat oil in a wok or a deep skillet over medium-high heat, add onions and cook until they are transparent. Add cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes until it becomes transparent as well. Add ham, toss for a few minutes and add frozen peas. Stir-fry everything together for a few minutes and just before adding the rice add the shrimp, cooking until it turns pink.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat, add butter. Once the butter has melted crack the eggs in the pan being careful not to break the yolk. Fry the eggs to your liking, I like my yolks to be runny, it binds the rice together in a delicious way.
While the butter is melting and the eggs are cooking, toss the rice into the wok with the sambal. Fry the rice a bit, but be careful that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Plate the rice and place a fried egg on top. Serve immediately with extra sambal at the table to everyone’s liking.
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