Fried rice, or nasi goreng, is the favourite breakfast of Indonesia. There are as many versions as there are cooks, but the most common – and the most delicious – are simple, usually consisting of little more than leftover rice stir-fried with a zingy paste. This is the classic Javanese version. The seasonings (chilli, palm sugar and shrimp paste) gently accentuate the rice without overpowering it. Topped with a fried egg and eaten with prawn crackers and sliced cucumber, it's earthy and satisfying. Make sure you only use chilled cooked rice, and heat it through thoroughly before serving.
4 tbsp peanut oil
700g chilled, cooked jasmine rice, made from about 400g uncooked rice
For the paste
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
1-2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp palm sugar, thinly sliced (or 1 tbsp dark brown sugar)
1 ½ tbsp Indonesian sweet soy sauce
8 prawn crackers, fried (optional)
Cucumber, thickly sliced on the diagonal
1 Place the shrimp paste in the centre of a square of aluminium foil. Fold the foil to create a small parcel and use the heel of your hand to flatten the paste into a 5mm-thick disc. Using tongs, place the parcel directly on to a medium-low gas ring. Toast for about 90 seconds, until the paste begins to smoke and release a burning, shrimpy smell. Turn the parcel over and toast for another 90 seconds, then turn the burner off. Let the parcel cool for a minute before unwrapping. The edges of the disc should be toasty and the centre should be golden with some black-brown patches. Scrape the paste into a bowl and let it cool for 30 seconds.
2 Add the paste, chillies and palm sugar (or dark brown sugar if using) to a food processor. Pulse until you have a smooth paste (you can add up to 2 tbsp of water if necessary). Set aside.
3 Heat the peanut oil in a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, crack an egg into it and season with salt. When the white begins to turn brown and crispy around the edges, turn the egg over and saute until the yolk is set (about 1 minute). Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Leave the oil in the pan.
4 Turn the heat down a little, add the paste to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
5 Using your fingers, add the cooked rice to the pan, breaking up any large clumps. Turn the heat to high and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until every grain of rice is hot and coated in the oil and paste. Take care not to let the rice brown or scorch.
6 Add the sweet soy sauce and stir well for 30 seconds. Add salt to taste.
7 Serve the rice in neat mounds topped with a fried egg, placing the prawn crackers (if using) and cucumbers alongside.
Adapted from Cradle of Flavour by James Oseland (Norton)