Nasi Goreng: Fried Rice, But Not Like You’re Used To

Erica Ingram

Erica Ingram

Staff Writer

This recipe won second place in the Global Eats Cooking Competition hosted by Das Tor. In the series “Global Eats,” T-birds share cooking stories and recipes unique to their culture or travels around the globe. Recipes entered into the competition were judged by a panel representing the executive team at Das Tor, Thunderbird Student Government, and the Humphrey Fellows at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. The winner will be filmed cooking their recipe in the ASU Multicultural Center test kitchen on Tuesday, 22 February, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. To sign up to be in the studio audience, click here.

What do you think of when you hear “fried rice”? For some, it might be the light brown colored rice with carrots, peas, and the occasional shrimp or chicken you might find at a Panda Express or a local Chinese restaurant. For me, however, I think of nasi goreng. 

Nasi Goreng, or fried rice in Bahasa, Indonesia, is a variant of the traditional Chinese fried rice that is served all across the Indonesian archipelago and Malaysia. And it’s much better tasting, too, in my totally biased opinion. Basically, nasi goreng is like the hot cousin of normal fried rice.

Growing up, nasi goreng was what my mom would throw together to get rid of all the leftovers in the fridge because she knew it would go fast. Whenever we had family over, she’d make a big pot of it because no matter who came, we all knew they would love it even if they didn’t like anything else she made. After moving out, nasi goreng was one dish I could make that reminded me of my mom’s food.

 There are a few things you need to know before you attempt to make it, however. The one thing that differentiates it from regular fried rice is the seasoning. Nasi goreng requires kecap manis (or sweet soy sauce). It’s what gives the rice its signature golden brown color, and it gives the dish a slightly sweet taste. Secondly, day-old rice is better to use than fresh rice. This is because the rice will have dried out enough where it will better absorb the oil and seasoning than freshly made rice. 

Once you have those two basics, you are basically guaranteed to make some delicious nasi goreng!

The Recipe (because I know you guys can’t wait, but keep reading for a bonus recipe!)

Disclaimer: I never measure when I make Nasi Goreng, so most of the measurements are just estimates. But honestly, this dish is so forgiving, you can put whatever you want in it.

You need:

Day old rice 

Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)–This is crucial!! Do not substitute!

1 thumb of ginger

2-3 cloves garlic

1-2 shallot(s)

Green onion/ scallions

Meat/protein of choice (I like either shrimp or chicken) 

1 egg

Oyster sauce

Optional seasoning (depending on spice tolerance)

Sambal Oelek (chilli and onion paste)

Red chili pepper(s)- 1 to 3 according to preference

Optional side dishes:

Krupuk or prawn crackers

Fried anchovies topping 

Chopped cucumber 

Tomato slices


  1. Chop vegetables and protein.
  2. Fry protein first before adding the vegetables. 
  3. Once the protein is done, add the ginger, garlic, green onion, shallots, and any other vegetable you want and cook for around 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and incorporate it with the meat and veggies. 
  5. Add the seasoning to taste.
  6. If adding fried anchovies, incorporate it into the rice.
  7. When the rice is done, fry an egg and serve on top of the rice. 
  8. Heat the krupuk in a lightly oiled frying pan/ in a microwave for 3 minutes, or until the crackers have puffed up. 
  9. Serve with a side of fresh cucumber or tomato

Bonus recipe! This one is for those of us who are vegetarian. (Fun fact: Almost all Indonesian dishes have a vegetarian alternative!)

Gado-Gado: Indonesian tofu and tempeh dish

 You need: 

Bean sprouts 

Kale or spinach

2 boiled potatoes (skinned)/ or rice cakes

2 eggs

200 grams tempeh (1 package)

200 grams tofu (1 package)

Peanut sauce:

1 cup/ 200 g peanuts, roasted and ground (may substitute with peanut butter)

1 tbsp lime juice/ tamarind pulp

2 tbsp kecap manis

250 g (1 can) coconut milk

1 tbsp coconut palm sugar/ brown sugar 

2 chilis

Sambal Oelek


2 Kaffir lime leaves (optional)


  1. Soak the tofu and tempeh for at least 15 minutes in water, then drain and fry.
  2. Boil each of the vegetables separately and drain completely.
  3. Heat water, tamarind pulp/lime juice, sugar, salt, chili, and coconut milk until boiling.
  4. Add peanut butter/ ground peanuts and sambal oelek and cook till the sauce has a creamy consistency.
  5. Stir in kecap manis.
  6. Once the sauce is done, arrange all the tempeh, tofu, potatoes/rice cakes, and bean sprouts and pour the sauce over the plate to serve. 

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