Nasi Goreng is the popular Indonesian fried rice which is traditionally served with a fried egg. The dark brown colour from the sauce distinguishes it from other Asian fried rice dishes. It’s a simple recipe, you won’t need to hunt down any unusual ingredients, and it’s one of my favourite Indonesian foods!
Anyone who has been to Bali would be familiar with Nasi Goreng and probably had it almost every day because it’s everywhere and darn delicious!
So for those who have tried and love Nasi Goreng, you will be surprised how easy this is to make in your very own home.
And for those who haven’t tried it, I hope you do!
What is Nasi Goreng?
The literal translation of Nasi Goreng is “fried rice” in Indonesian and Malaysian – and that’s exactly what it is! It’s mainly rice with just a little bit of meat and just onion for the vegetables. The thing that distinguishes it from other Fried Rice dishes is the sauce which is made with kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce that stains the rice dark brown and caramelises the rice when it cooks.
Typically it’s served with a sunny side up egg (love how the yolk runs into the rice!) and a side of fresh cucumber and tomato (no dressing) to make a meal of it.
Shrimp Paste is optional!
As with almost every traditional dish, there are many versions of Nasi Goreng. Some are more complicated than others, calling for the use of dried shrimp (belacan) which, astonishingly, is now sold in large supermarkets in Australia as well as Asian stores.
I make it with, and I make it without. It’s tasty even without dried shrimp – and in fact, when I originally shared this Nasi Goreng recipe in 2016, I chose the version without shrimp paste because of that reason.
But it is tastier and more authentic with dried shrimp.
So I’ve compromised and taken the easy route by using shrimp paste rather than dried shrimp which requires more effort in the preparation process (crumble and toast before using).
Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)
A distinguishing feature of Nasi Goreng is the dark brown colour of the rice from the kecap manis / ketjap manis which is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. It’s thicker and sweeter than normal soy sauce, with a consistency like syrup.
Don’t go running for the hills thinking it’s a hard-to-find-ingredient! Here in Australia, kecap manis is available in major supermarkets (see here for Woolworths).
And if you can’t find it at your supermarket, don’t worry! It is SO easy to make – just reduce soy sauce and brown sugar. Seriously. I’ve included directions in the recipe for you.
Cold, day old rice is not optional!
While shrimp paste is optional, the COLD cooked rice called for is not!
It’s simply not possible to make any fried rice with hot, freshly cooked rice – it gets kind of stickier when stir fried in sauce.
On the other hand, day old cold rice is drier and harder, so the rice can be stir fried in the sauce in a way that makes it become caramelised which gives Nasi Goreng the signature colour and flavour.
Speedy option: Cook the rice, spread out on tray then FREEZE for 1 – 2 hours, or refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours. It’s not just about cooling the rice, it’s also about making the surface of the rice dry out.
Super quick 20 minute recipe
The making part is very straightforward, no different to typical fried rice recipes. Garlic, chilli and onion first, then chicken, then rice, kecap manis and shrimp paste, if using.
Cook for a couple of minutes until the rice grains start to caramelise. Trust me – you will know when it’s ready, it smells amazing!
How to serve Nasi Goreng
Nasi Goreng is traditionally served with a fried egg and a side of fresh vegetables (commonly plain juicy wedges of tomato and cucumber).
Both these side options are very typical in various parts of Asia to add protein and vegetables to a plate to turn something carb-heavy into a meal.
Nasi Goreng is also a terrific Asian side dish option, something a little different that packs a bit of a flavour punch! Try it on the side of:
- Indonesian or Thai Chicken Satay Skewers
- Asian Marinated Chicken
- Asian Chilli Garlic Shrimp/Prawns – big punchy flavours, tastes like Thai Chilli jam!
- Marinated Thai Chicken (Gai Yang)
- Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu)
Or have a browse of my Asian recipes collection for more ideas!
I do hope you try this. Super tasty, it’s probably one of the most flavour packed Asian fried rice dishes! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)
Recipe video above. A traditional Indonesian fried rice recipe which is often served with a fried egg for a protein boost to make it a meal, but I usually serve it as a side dish. The magic ingredient in this is kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce which is available in large supermarkets and of course in Asian stores. Feel free to swap out the chicken for other proteins! Shrimp/prawns, tofu, beef and pork are all great alternatives.
- 1 tbsp oil
- 5 oz / 150g chicken breast (, thinly sliced (or other protein))
- 1 tbsp kecap manis ((sweet soy sauce, Note 1))
- 1.5 tbsp oil
- 2 garlic cloves (, finely chopped)
- 1 tsp red chilli (, finely chopped (Note 2))
- 1 onion (, small, diced)
- 3 cups cooked white rice (, day old, cold (Note 3))
- 2 tbsp kecap manis ((sweet soy sauce, Note 1))
- 2 tsp shrimp paste (, optional (Note 4))
Garnishes / side servings (optional)
- 4 eggs (, fried to taste)
- 1 green onion (, sliced)
- Tomatos and cucumbers, (cut into wedges/chunks)
- Fried shallots (, store bought (optional) (Note 3))
- Lime wedges
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.
Add chilli and garlic, stir for 10 seconds.
Add onion, cook for 1 minute.
Add chicken, cook until it mostly turns white, then add 1/2 tbsp kecap manis and cook for a further 1 minute or until chicken is mostly cooked through and a bit caramelised.
Add rice, 2 tbsp kecap manis and shrimp paste, if using. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until sauce reduces down and rice grains start to caramelise (key for flavour!).
Serve, garnished with garnishes of choice (green onions, red chilli, fried shallots).
Serve as a side for Asian main dishes or as part of a large spread, Asian or not! See in post for suggestions.
Make it a meal – traditional Indonesian style!: Serve with a fried egg sunny side up (runny yolk!), tomato wedges and slices of cucumber on the side.
1. Kecap Manis (sometimes called Ketjap Manis) is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce that is thicker than other soy sauces. Sometimes just labelled as “sweet soy sauce”. Consistency resembles maple syrup, available in most supermarkets in Australia (Woolworths, Coles, Harris Farms).
Also easy to make your own! Just combine 1/4 cup ordinary soy sauce (I use Kikkoman) and 1/4 cup brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it becomes a maple syrup consistency. It will thicken more when it cools.
2. Chilli – I use 2 birds eye or Thai red chillies, adds a mild warmth, doesn’t make it spicy. Adjust to taste. Chilli paste can also be used instead – add it when you add the rice.
3. Day old cooked rice – All types of fried rice are best made using day old cooked rice that has been refrigerated overnight. It dries it out, making it easier to stir fry to evenly coat the grains with the flavourings. TIP: Keep bags of cooked rice in the freezer! Fabulous for fried rice, or even using plain.
4. Shrimp paste – Adds depth of flavour and complexity, but is optional. Traditional dish uses belacan which is dried shrimp blocks, requires crumbling then toasting prior to use. Same flavour achieved with any shrimp paste which you can just dollop in. Any shrimp paste brand/type is fine.
Still tasty WITHOUT shrimp paste. SUB with more kecap mans OR 1 tbsp fish sauce!
5. Fried shallots are slices shallots that have been fried until crunchy. They are a great garnish and add a pop of texture to the dish but are optional because it’s not traditional! Fried shallots can be purchased at most supermarkets in Australia (see here for Woolworths).
6. Make this GLUTEN FREE by making your own kecap manis (Note 1) using Tamari.
7. Storage – as with all fried rice, it keeps great for a day or two in the fridge then I find it gets a bit dry. Salvage it with a sprinkle of water then microwave it – makes it all steamy and moist again! Do the same if you freeze it.
8. Nutrition per serving including egg.
Nasi Goreng recipe originally shared March 2016. Updated June 2019 with new photos, new writing, brand new video, slight recipe improvement and most importantly, Life of Dozer added!
Life of Dozer
Annual check up – passed with flying colours! And he behaved pretty well too…. until he saw the needle….
…. but the teeny tiny little prick was soon forgotten as he launched himself onto the reception desk for treats. The wonderful team at Mona Vale Vetinary Hospital spoil him!! (And you know I totally love it)