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Slightly confusing though as in my world terasi belacan is the fermented shrimp paste exclusively, while the sambal refers to a condiment or sauce containing said fermented shrimp paste. 

 

Yes, you are correct.  I see now on re-reading my post I had included the word "sambal" when describing the equivalence of "trassi belacan" in M'sia/S'pore.  I suppose I was already thinking of the equivalence between "sambal terasi" and "sambal belacan" when I wrote that.  Here's the Indonesian Wiki article on terasi and the Malay Wiki article on belacan.  One difference is that Indonesian terasi could be made from fish or shrimp whereas belacan is usually made from shrimp.

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I'm fascinated by how this discussion has evolved since my last post. (Enjoyable reading, too.)

 

In some of my recent reading, an author said (to paraphrase), "Food is folk culture." I thought that was a wonderful way to explain the endless variations in cooking, whether we're talking about a single dish or the treatment of a single ingredient. Like a good folk story, there is a common theme, but infinite variations on that theme. The same with a popular dish like nasi goreng. Cooks vary the basic idea of nasi goreng depending on their preferences and the ingredients they have on hand.

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I'm fascinated by how this discussion has evolved since my last post. (Enjoyable reading, too.)

 

In some of my recent reading, an author said (to paraphrase), "Food is folk culture." I thought that was a wonderful way to explain the endless variations in cooking, whether we're talking about a single dish or the treatment of a single ingredient. Like a good folk story, there is a common theme, but infinite variations on that theme. The same with a popular dish like nasi goreng. Cooks vary the basic idea of nasi goreng depending on their preferences and the ingredients they have on hand.

 

Have you seen this old thread?

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/144472-fried-rice-chinese-type-in-china-or-restaurants-here/

:-) 

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Thank you for your efforts CeeCee. Your research supports what I was able to ascertain. Nasi Goreng is rice plus whatever! I never imagined nor ever mentioned anything about an authentic recipe as I do not believe in such animals. Nonetheless I had hoped to find a few common ingredients so that I would be able to determine that it was not Chinese fried rice or Thai fried rice but I suppose even there there is nothing really to distinguish one from another.

huiray's explanation of the meaning of the name Nasi Goreng again supports my contention that it is whatever I say it is.

I think it is interesting that one can imagine that a recipe for a dish exists and is distinctly of its origin (let's assume Indonesian) yet each Indonesian cook chooses very different ingredients. There are many, many dishes where ingredients differ from person to person, from country to country, from era to era but few that I can think of that vary as much as this fried rice dish, Nasi Goreng.

 

Well, yes and no regarding Nasi Goreng being whatever one calls it and no differences between Chinese fried rice & Nasi Goreng and whatever. (including "Chaufa" from Peru) There are certainly all sorts of large expanses of grey areas but Potter Stewart's observation (thanks due to his clerk at the time) about the definition of obscenity comes to mind.  There's something about the overall dish one is looking at and tasting that may make one think more of one genre rather than another.  The overall taste, the mix of ingredients, etc etc.**  Personally, when I have a plate of Yeung Chow fried rice in front of me I wouldn't think of Nasi Goreng, no... and some iteration of fried rice with kecap manis and galangal and a couple of fried eggs on it served w/ sambal ikan bilis on the side - I wouldn't have in mind some version of Hong Kong-style "Chow Fan" either.  And so it goes.

 

** But yes, in some cases two dishes might be cooked independently by two different cooks from two different culinary traditions/cuisines and called by separate/different names yet when presented to a third party would be seen as virtually indistinguishable.  :-) 

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The best Nasi Goreng I've had has been eaten at breakfast in Indonesia, hence my retreat to Indonesia for the best examples and recipes.

 

Our experiences govern what we consider to be the prototype of the dish and judging from the great discussion here we have varying experiences with this particular fried rice dish. 

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Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
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  • 1 month later...

Nasi means 'rice' and goreng means 'fried' in both Indonesian and Malay language. I work in a restaurant in Malaysia and would like to share with you what ingredients we use here.

The influence of Chinese cooking method is quite significant here.  Therefore, soy sauce, white pepper powder, oyster sauce are the primary seasoning. However, we add sambal (chili paste) during frying in order to give the signature flavor of nasi goreng. We also use the local vegetable called kangkong (water spinach) and ikan bilis (anchovy), which is indispensable in the recipe. Finally, cut two cili padi (bird's eye chili) to fry the rice to enhance the spiciness.

 

So the key different of nasi goreng versus Chinese fried rice is:

1. Sambal

2. Bird's eye chili

3. Kangkong

4. Anchovy.


Hope this help.

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My name is KP Kwan. I am a pharmacist turned restaurateur who lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have worked in my restaurant more than ten years and since year 2012.

 

I am also a food blogger.  You can read my blog at http://tasteasianfood.com/

I am looking forward to learning and contributing topics about culinary skills in this forum.

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Nasi means 'rice' and goreng means 'fried' in both Indonesian and Malay language. I work in a restaurant in Malaysia and would like to share with you what ingredients we use here.

The influence of Chinese cooking method is quite significant here.  Therefore, soy sauce, white pepper powder, oyster sauce are the primary seasoning. However, we add sambal (chili paste) during frying in order to give the signature flavor of nasi goreng. We also use the local vegetable called kangkong (water spinach) and ikan bilis (anchovy), which is indispensable in the recipe. Finally, cut two cili padi (bird's eye chili) to fry the rice to enhance the spiciness.

 

So the key different of nasi goreng versus Chinese fried rice is:

1. Sambal

2. Bird's eye chili

3. Kangkong

4. Anchovy.

Hope this help.

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  • 5 years later...

A few people seem not to like Conimex nasi goreng.  I don't know if the rap is on the dry mix or the paste.  I've always thought it was pretty good until I tried the their Boemboe Nasi Goreng which is a wet paste.  .  The paste is waaaay better.  

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I have only done it from scratch. A simple dish with some intense flavor. As in many SE Asian dishes - oh that shrimp paste :) 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/13/2020 at 3:03 AM, ElsieD said:

A few people seem not to like Conimex nasi goreng.  I don't know if the rap is on the dry mix or the paste.  I've always thought it was pretty good until I tried the their Boemboe Nasi Goreng which is a wet paste.  .  The paste is waaaay better.  

 

 From my experience it's the brand in general being frowned upon and not just a certain product or a particular line of products. The products I do see being used the most are the soy sauce and the sambal oelek, which are pretty basic. I can imagine choosing their sambal oelek over a more expensive brand. Soy sauce not so much, but we'll see how far Kikkoman and ABC will change that in the upcoming five years as they too have entered the supermarket assortment here and there.

 

I guess there are also some other factors at play, here's my take on it.

 

In general as with any processed food, the way it is produced can alter the flavour, as do economics. If you haven't grown up with a proper oma/nenek or ibu, cooking from scratch as much as possible and by taste, not compromising on cheaper ingredients trying to make up a certain flavour profile, how would you know the difference? Would you even care? Some people favor convenience anyway over the elbow grease needed for a more real deal or simply don't have the budget or the time to get all the ingredients involved to cook from scratch.

I wonder how much of the art will simply die out along with the older generations, as the younger ones don't have the time to put in the effort and might not even remember the difference of the good old handwork. Or think it was grannies or momma's magical touch while grabbing their trustworthy kitchen appliance that they have grown accustomed to or even grown up with.

Personally it's quite hard to mash an entire boemboe or currypaste as my hands can't keep holding to the pestle with such force. Or much else after such an exercise and my goodness you never know much you use your hands until you simply can't! I can't charter or piss off a young one nearby to do it. Certainly not for a second time of such a tedious task to end up with a uniform fine product. But I guess I now understand the appeal of making a minion kid yourself a little bit better. Jong geleerd is oud gedaan is another Dutch saying equalling to teach 'm while they're young.  I could ask my SO, but I feel bad to make him do it as he won't notice much difference anyway and he'll probably leave me the washing up to do instead. Generally, I don't make just one boemboe or one dish when cooking these things, so that means cooking and cleaning a lot of dishes. Am I really this passionate about the difference? More so than being independent to get things done when I want them to instead of having to wait on others to do it? I guess not, so I'll shut up about it after I admit to enjoying the independence that a nifty kitchen machine can bring me. 

 

If you don't buy it yourself, chances of getting a taste of Conimex and recognise the brand is greatest at a Dutch dinner table I guess.

Some say the (in)famous Dutch taste is simply a lack of flavour and believe it was caused by the calvinistic preference for toned down and sober things. Others, like culinary expert Johannes van Dam, think it was caused by the home economic schools, which deemed lusciously spiced food unnecessary for the common people.

Either way,  most Dutch home cooking was not so spicy, or even spiced for that matter. This was a big factor if you were to market a new product for a wide as possible target audience in The Netherlands of the last century.

Now imagine getting to know Conimex at such a bland dinner. What kind of advertisement could you convince otherwise after such an experience?

 

Conimex (CONserven (cannes) IMport EXport) started out in the 1930's with mediterranean produce like ansjovis and even Kellogs cornflakes, before trying their luck with a canned nasi and bami adjusted to the Dutch palate. The founder and co-owner met a local couple with Indonesian roots and started working with them. The lady was born on Java island, where she had met her Dutch expat husband. His contacts back in Indonesia turned out to be very usefull in trading, as her cooking skills improved the produce itself.

The Dutch army was a big client before the second world war (not sure about now). Fun fact, the marine department still has a tradition of serving Indonesian food one day a week, this is called blauwe hap and it is served on Wednesdays. Blue bite is the literal translation, but let's replace that with grub and think of the rijsttafel.

Why blue you might ask? It could be because the black Indonesian haircolour appears to be black in a certain light and calling them black or brown was deemed more derogatory than blue. Other suggestions include the colour of the uniforms, a somewhat blue hue in the rice cooking water, the blueish spot at the bottom of the spine on newborn Asian baby's or even the aprons of the cooks. Supposedly those blue aprons were washed in the same water as the plates, which stained blue as well. Hygienics aside, wouldn't those plates be blue the entire week?

But I digress.

Another fun fact, an old marine collected 900 blue recipes and turned into a cookbook called Selamat Makan. To my knowledge it's only available in Dutch, but don't let that stop you from taking a look at this legally free version here. You can download it and copypaste a recipe into an online translator to join in on the fun. Just keep in mind that it uses both Dutch and Indonesian words, so you might need to select both languages to tackle it in the best way possible.

 

During the war, there was almost no import or export. When Conimex started up again afterwards, they changed their produce and gained access to the supermarketchain of Albert Heijn. As Indonesia got it's declaration of independence over a quarter million people returned or moved to The Netherlands during 1945-1968, thus making their mark on demographics and the culinary scene so to say.

A Dutch saying goes wat een boer niet kent, dat eet hij niet meaning what a farmer doesn't know, he won't eat.  If your momma deemed it good enough to cook with, you might happily stick to it without ever venturing out. That nostalgia might differ if you have an Indonesian or Indo (Dutch-Indonesian) background, but let's skip the non-culinary and hurtful history to simply say that you might rather choose products from your former home country when possible to not be reminded. You could support those producers overseas,  feel more included and closer to the family back home as they cook(ed) with the same stuff as well as the flavour itself that is targeted at an audience that is much better informed on the authentic flavour.

 

Ok, back to nasi goreng and your post on dried mix versus wet paste. I'm still a bit hung up on Surinamese cooking. It's what actually got me back here as I read a blogpost by The Food Dictator including a post I made in this very topic  😆 This might be dangerous to say with him being a dictator and all, but I think I've never had one that includes lemongrass so far. Nasi goreng is generally not my first pick at Surinamese or Indonesian toko's. Perhaps due to the tendecy of having to be cheaper, making ends meet could mean scaling down on ingredients?

My experiences with homecooked Surinamese food might be influenced by the background of my friends and co-workers, who are mostly Indo (Dutch-Indonesian/Indisch) or Surinamese hindustani, Surinamese Chinese or marons (maroons, descendants from African slaves) and not Indonesian or Surinamese-Javanese. But I have been eating this grub for quite a while now, so I'd like to think I should have noticed some lemomgrass by now. Maybe I forgot? I'm not getting any younger and neither are you reading this long text, so let's take a look at some of my online sources.

 

https://www.priyalovesfood.nl/surinaamse-nasi-met-ei/ is from a Surinamese Hindustani and doesn't include citroengras (Dutch) or sereh (Indonesian)

Francesca is married to a Surinamese hindustani. She uses piment/jamaica pepper, which I feel is much more common than lemongrass in the Surinamese kitchen. I failed to mention this in my prior post, which is a shame as it might be used more than kencur in the Suriname cuisine.

Making your own spiced soy sauce for Surinamese nasi and bami. These Surinamese sisters don't have a nasi goreng recipe online yet, but refer to it in this recipe with ginger and star anise. No lemongrass or kencur, but the kencur does appear as a separate ingredient in their bami recipe along with said spiced soy sauce. The piment is included in de homemade Maggi stock cube recipe.

Surinamese nasi boemboe which seems to have a bit more Indonesian/Javanese influence. They exclude trassi due to an allergy in their family.

Another more Indonesian influenced recipe without lemongrass

https://surinamcooking.com/nasi/ If it's in here, it's hiding in the Helen brand marinade.

This nasi goreng includes bayleaves and laos

This one looks familiar

I discovered a website named Dutch nasi goreng, but it's not a dedicated one. It doesn't mention lemongrass in any of the articles on nasi goreng or in  the Surinamese recipe
 

Perhaps it's not that Surinamese, but Indonesian and specificly Javanese? English sources:

Written by someone born in Yakarta on Java, without lemongrass https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2019/06/nasi-goreng-recipe.html

Might be hiding in the Balinese paste the BBC recommends https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/nasi-goreng-indonesian-stir-fried-rice

Nope at https://www.196flavors.com/indonesia-nasi-goreng/

Nor at https://rasamalaysia.com/nasi-goreng-indonesian-fried-rice/

At Wikipedia a Balinese one mentions lemongrass https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasi_goreng

 

Dutch sources:

 

Four nasi goreng recipes at Kokkie Slomo, but no mention. Not even in the nasi goreng Djawa

The kokkie blanda site hails from Indo/Indisch background, but has a broader asian scope and anyone can upload a recipe.

Indonesian nasi goreng kencur with kencur, but no lemongrass.

https://www.kokkieblanda.nl/indonesian/nasi-mie-mihoen/2982-nasi-goreng-jawa-gebakken-rijst-uit-java-met-kool-en-kip Indonesian from Java, no lemongrass.
East Javanese nasi goreng with seafood but no lemongrass

Yakarta lamb nasi goreng no lemongrass mentioned

Nasi Goreng from Yogyakarta Java that does include lemongrass/sereh

Nasi goreng bumbu pepes with chicken and lemongrass

 

You see mr dictator, it's not just me. I hope you will be very busy punishing all those people before you get to me or at the very least don't leave me to die all by myself. Can you imagine all the foodie conversations I would have being stuck in a cell?

Speaking of culinary convo's while being imprisoned, there's another book in Dutch. Not a real cookbook, but one consisting of stories about food and fantasy recipes during the war periode of 1942-45 in Indonesia. The prisoners in the camps were so hungry that they wrote about the food they longed for. The book title translates as 'The taste of longing' accordingly.

 

Also, no mention of use in nasi goreng at https://www.aziatische-ingredienten.nl/citroengras/

There is mention of using lemongrass as a tea, which is probably the only reference I have when combined with Suriname as there is a Surinamese brand of dried herbs to be used as health tea. If you want to take a look, check out the packaging here as proof.

 

Wait Ceecee, what about those other dried products?

Well this is probably not a surprise, but my go to at the moment is Surinamese by Paradise and actually a bami mix. Paradise brand includes kencur (kentjoer), but no lemongrass in the ingredient list nor in the published recipe. Aren't these products actually one and the same thing? Probably yeah. 

How about the competition?

Surinamese Maussi offers one with more components. I like that both Paradise and Maussi don't pretend to be the complete flavour profile. Yes, I'm petty like that.

There's Inproba, which I think should rank below Conimex. Their factory is currently located in Baarn, the birthplace of Conimex. Indeed, a small world. Did you see those ingredients? Yes, citroengras means lemongrass is included!

Is this the dried product from Conimex you tried ElsieD? This "herbal" mix consisting of mostly vegetables (45%) includes red bellpepper, sesame oil and "curry" spices including mustard. The Conimex boemboe for nasi goreng is indeed a different beast and boasts lemongrass to my surprise, among other things. Is that shrimp powder even fermented or just regular not so stinky ground up stuff? Not sure if this needs to be specified by law. It should be in my opinion, details are awesome and the more the merrier.

The description says you shouldn't have to add any other spices, herbs or soy sauce as everything is included. Just add chickenbreast, vegetables and rice for a spicy Indonesian dish. Yeah, I bet that their spicy is at best piquant pour moi and as a bonus they try to balance their "heat" with too much sugar for my liking. Meaning I would have to tweak this anyway and I don't think just a scoop of sambal will do that trick. I'd rather opt for a convenience product that already includes my beloved kencur and needs less tweaking to please me. Of course I totally understand that this makes me a stubborn and lazy snob. Sorry, I don't mean to be offensive.

 

Alrighty then, this post is long enough.

 

 

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13 hours ago, KennethT said:

@CeeCee I wish we had a wow button.... thanks for all this info - fascinating!

 

Glad to hear, thanks for the heads up!

 

I tried to find our Indonesian chef Lonny Gerungan on Youtube. He has made some culi travel shows years ago and produced an Indonesian line aimed at supermarket audience. Current one is at Albert Heijn (the same who started selling Conimex way back), named Samasaya and this is a Dutch video of him using the nasi goreng cooking sauce. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZyT9yeadPo

You won't find this product anywhere now, it has been nixed in favor of a paste. Ingredients: Water, garlic, onion, trassi (shrimppaste), chilipepper, natural vinegar, vegetable canola oil, salt, bell pepper, white pepper, natural thickener (xanthaangom). Find his recommended recipe here

 

His old line at Albert Heijn (AH in short, which you pronounce quite similar to the famed Swedish band A-Ha) consisted of several products. Some were microwave meals, which had two components. One rice and the other was a saucy meaty, fishy or vegetable one. My absolute favorite was the dengdeng blado, a beef concoction. I still use some of those braided packaging to this day, quite convenient. Here's a picture of a steamed fish  and an ayam (chicken) paniki, to get an idea. That url shares a story. Poor Lonny couldn't keep up the rising demand and sold his line to a business that went belly up. They still own his imaging and won't allow him using his own name, which is how Samasaya came to being. In Dutch we could say that it's flauw. This means bland or in this case lame, although I rather call them bastards. Thought the flauw/bland would be a funny addition to a post on Dutch-Indonesian stuff.

 

Now that you've met Conimex, Inproba and some of Lonny's work, what else can be found here to help out with nasi goreng? Kokkie Djawa is a brand that can be found in both toko's and some supermarkets. Toko Lien looks quite similar. Koningsvogel (English language available) has tubs, but is probably best known for their line of sambals going beyond the generic oelek and badjak varieties.  Here are the nasi goreng options at the online webshop of the biggest toko chain in The Netherlands.

 

Remember Conimex starting out with canned nasi? Different brand still does this. I've watched a friend eat this, while camping at a music festival in Germany. He referred to it as nazi göring. Tasteless humor one might say...
 

While browsing Youtube, I found some other vids that might be of interest.

 

Mingfang Wang migrated to the Netherlands from China. She inherited her brothers Chinese restaurant 'De Chinese Muur' in Hilversum (a city between Amsterdam and Utrecht) and wrote a book about her experience in the lowlands Chinese restaurant scene. The restaurant was sold after 12 years and seems to have some trouble keeping up to prior level. Looking at the menu, you can see the Chinese - Indonesian crossover unique to The Netherlands that unfortunately nowadays has been deemed as a dying breed.

Watch her make nasi goreng Chinese style for a Dutch audience:

 

 

Masterchef Australia's alumni Adam Liaw cooks a Friday fried rice series on Youtube. #3 is Indonesian nasi goreng.

13 hours ago, KennethT said:

@CeeCee I wish we had a wow button.... thanks for all this info - fascinating!

 

 

The other recipes might be offtopic, but I'll include direct links for easy access:

 

#1 Yangzhou fried rice (the original fried rice, his words)

#2 Hokkien fried rice

#4 Homestyle Japanese omuraisu

#5 Kimchi fried rice

 

 

Edited by CeeCee
I messed up a copypaste, sorry (log)
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@CeeCee  Wow!  That is an incredible amount of information and I thank you for it.  I was born in Holland (Zutphen) and still have relatives there.  It was my mother who introduced me to Nasi Goreng long after I had left home.  She used the dry Conimex packet but as I mentioned, I have since found the paste, also made by Conimex which I prefer.  I'm going to have a good time going through your posts and checking out all the links.  Thank you so much!

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On 8/31/2020 at 8:39 PM, ElsieD said:

@CeeCee  Wow!  That is an incredible amount of information and I thank you for it.  I was born in Holland (Zutphen) and still have relatives there.  It was my mother who introduced me to Nasi Goreng long after I had left home.  She used the dry Conimex packet but as I mentioned, I have since found the paste, also made by Conimex which I prefer.  I'm going to have a good time going through your posts and checking out all the links.  Thank you so much!

 

You're welcome!

 

Zutphen is nice, we visited a while ago. My SO has an interest in Hanzesteden (Hanseatic League cities), so he picked this for an outing. We stumbled upon the Europe exclusive dealer of fresh wasabi grown outside of Japan and in the UK if I remember correctly. Which was a lovely surprise, meeting very nice owners and trying wasabi chocolate truffles.

They have since moved away to Bodegraven in Zuid-Holland. There is also Noord-Holland, both are in the west. Zutphen is laying east in Gelderland ,so if nitpicking you're not a Hollander. I know it's common to say Holland, but not everyone sees this fit. Especially Frysians up north and Limburgers in the south will tell you that they are certainly not Hollanders in my experience, so consider yourself warned if not using Nederlander instead 😋

And while being shamefully offtopic, I raise you that some of my relatives moved to Canada was well. My grandfathers brother moved with his wife and children after the second world war and they mostly dwell in the Toronto area. His kids and their kids that is, no one of that generation is alive anymore.

I don't think they ever cooked nasi goreng or any other Dutch-Indonesian for that matter and just stuck to old school erwtensoep (splitpea soup) which was so thick your spoon could stay up in it and alike. My oma (grandmother, who I called Omi by the way. She got turned off the a as she hated being called maaaaaa) was the experimental one in the family, so I have absolutely no excuse to keep yapping away about this.

So yeah, my oma somehow ended up with one of the classic Dutch-Indonesian cookbooks and started cooking, I guess the rest is history. I should look up the nasi goreng recipe in it and post about it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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