#CookingUpIslandBliss: Making Nasi Lemak in your Rice Cooker
As relaxing Sundays go on this tropical island, preparing nasi lemak in your trusty rice cooker has to be one of the simplest ways to start off the week with style. The fragrant aroma of pandan-scented rice, tantalizing chili paste, and freshly cooked ikan bilis will have you humming in no time!
As a mom who juggles a busy blog with homeschooling and work-from-home gigs, I’m all about quick and easy dishes that don’t skimp on flavor. The one-pot wonder that is nasi lemak is right up my alley; let me show you how I whip up this Malaysian staple in minutes using just my trusty Sharp rice cooker.
What is Nasi Lemak?
Nasi lemak, the classic coconut rice dish of Malaysia is synonymous with comfort and satisfaction. Here on the island, you know I’m always craving for satisfying, comfort food that is not typically available so Im forced to cook it myself. Using ingredients from our backyard farm like fresh coconut milk and our very own pandan for that secret ingredient, not to mention the use of crispy anchovies or Dilis as we call it here, it’s almost a local cuisine.
Traditional Cooking vs the Rice Cooker
Traditionally, the Malaysian way requires the steaming of the rice. But making nasi lemak can be a a long and tiring procedure with all the steaming of the rice and frying of ingredients.
So here’s a simple method using your trusty rice cooker. Yes Uncle Roger, we have one! As you can see, most modern Asian households have the rice cooker by default.
The first step is prepping the rice. You can use Jasmine or Dinorado rice for this recipe. Wash 2 cups of long-grain rice until the water runs clear, then drain well. If you’re Asian, then you know the drill, but if you’re like my kids who hardly venture in the kitchen this is a good reference. (I occasionally send my son the links of my recipes here so he knows where to ask in case he’s away or I’m not around). Transfer the washed to the rice cooker pot.
Add coconut milk, salt and enough water just to cover the rice (around 1 1/2 cups). Use the right ratio of coconut milk to water – around 1 part coconut milk to 2 parts water works well.
Here is the approximate ratio of coconut milk to rice that I would recommend:
For 1 cup of uncooked rice:
• 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup coconut milk
• 1 1/4 cups – 1 1/2 cups water
So for 1 cup of rice, use:
• 1/2 cup coconut milk
• 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups water
This ratio will give you nicely flavored coconut rice that is not too oily or soggy. The key is to use more water than coconut milk so the rice absorbs the coconut flavor without becoming too rich.
Tip, use freshly grated coconut milk- if possible the fresher the better! Get the Kakang Gata (the first squeeze) because that is creamier. This will give the rice a richer coconut aroma and flavor.
Tie up the pandan leaves into a knot and place it on the pot, close the lid and turn the rice cooker on. You can skip the pandan leaves if you don’t have, or perhaps put in a few drops of Mccormick pandan flavoring if you have this available. Otherwise, it’s really not required.
While the rice cooks, prepare the toppings. Fry the onions in hot oil until lightly browned then drain on paper towels. Next, cook the Dilis I sourced from my favorite seaside vendor this morning. Toss 1/2 cup of theDilis in 1 teaspoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat, cooking and stirring until browned and crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make the sambal. Add 4-5 dried chili, 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste (alamang), 1 thumb of ginger, salt and 1-2 tablespoon of sugar to a blender and process until a coarse paste forms. Scoop into a small bowl and cook in 3 tablespoons of oil. Set aside.
By now your rice should be done! Fluff with a fork, this helps separate the grains and removes excess moisture trapped between them. Remove the pandan leaves. Transfer to a serving plate and arrange with the egg slices, fried shallots, dilis, cucumber slices and sambal chili sauce. Don’t forget the peanuts!
What to serve with Nasi Lemak?
My friend, if you want to up the protein in your nasi lemak, Malaysians often opt for their Fried Chicken. In Singapore, they serve it also with fried chicken that is topped with a mind-numbing chili sauce. Poach or pan-fry some chicken thigh fillets and toss them in the same sambal chili paste we made for the anchovies. The blend of sweet chicken and sour-spicy sambal is dreamy, let me tell you.
I’m partial to dark meat since it stays succulent and juicy even after cooking. Just poach the chicken thighs in water or coconut milk until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove and shred into bite sized pieces. Toss in the sambal paste to coat and serve atop your fragrant rice.
The flavor pairing of chicken and coconut milk based nasi lemak is perfection to me – the protein and richness balances the tangy accompaniments beautifully. My father loves picking at the juicy chicken bits whenever I make this dish.
So there you have it, my suggestion for upgrading your nasi lemak meal with some chicken. Let me know if you try the chicken addition – I’d love to hear how it turns out!
For those who are not so much into heat, you can use my Max Fried Chicken recipe. It’s also a good pair as that is what I serve to the kids.
As it happens, I actually began making this dish when my sisters gifted me with a stack of Mccormick Flavor Mixes. Among them was a Nasi Lemak Mccormick Rice Cooker Mix. It’s also a great alternative if you’re not as confident with making your own dish yet or if you’re hurrying. Feel free to use that, no judgment here at Relaxlangmom!
Hope this helps and happy cooking, moms. Remember to savor the simple joys along the way.
#islandliving #simplejoys #thericecookercure