“It feels like springtime in winter
It feels like Christmas in June
…To think of all the nights
I’ve cried myself to sleep
You really oughta know
How much you mean to me”
- Everytime I Close My Eyes by Babyface
If garam masala is the magic spice of Indian cuisine, then sambal belachan must be that of Indonesian cuisine. You can find it in 1 out of 2 typical Indonesian dishes, and in my opinion one of the best chilli sauces in the world. I also love the chilli sauce from Reggio Calabria, a region in the south of Italy.
My grandmother used to do her own sambal belachan at home, sending waves of smoke in the air, and suffocating me with the deadly spiciness of hundred dried chillies. I remember having to lock myself in the bathroom to have some air to breathe. But it was because she did an insanely huge amount; she filled up a 1 litre jug with sambal! We lived in a family of 6 people - my grandma, my uncle, my two sisters, the maid and I.
I did a very modest quantity of sambal belachan, following a recipe I found on the cookbook The Food of Singapore.
Nasi Goreng reminds me of another Indonesian/ Malaysian dish I love called Nasi Lemak. In primary school, there was a stall in the canteen with an endless queue which sold Nasi Lemak or Mee Soto for only 50 cents. I rarely queued up to buy because the lunch break was only 20 minutes and I wanted to play at the field for a few minutes ;)
I love Nasi Goreng as much as I love Chinese Fried Rice, Thai Pineapple Fried Rice and Japanese Omurice. It’s my lunch favorite :)
For Sambal Belacan:
10 red chillies (fresh or dried)
2 scallions/green onions, sliced
1 tbsp toasted dried shrimp paste
3 tbsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
For Nasi Goreng:
1 cup cooked rice
1 tbsp sambal belacan
1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 egg, sunny side up
6 almonds, chopped (optional)
1. To start, heat up 1 tablespoon oil in a small pan and lightly fry the dried shrimp paste until it emits an intense aroma.
2. In an electric blender, mix all ingredients for the spice paste together until you get a smooth paste. Store in a container and keep any unused paste in the fridge for up to a week.
3. Break an egg in a nonstick pan with one teaspoon oil. Wait until it becomes firm and quite cooked before flipping over to brown on the other side. Remove from pan.
3. In the same pan, heat some oil until it becomes hot. Add the sambal belacan and stir for a few seconds before mixing in the rice. Stir well for a minute to blend the rice with the sambal.
4. Pour in the sweet soy sauce and let it boil on high heat. It should sizzle for a few seconds. Add in the sugar. Stir for two minutes and remove from heat.
5. Place the cooked egg on top of the rice and serve. You can also add in some chopped almonds. It’s not in the original recipe but I tried it on a whim and found it to be even more delicious.
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