Nasi Goreng Gila, literally translated from Malay:
Nasi = rice
Goreng = fried or to fry
Gila = mad, crazy, loco – take your pick
So, Nasi Goreng Gila is Crazy Fried Rice, or, Crazily Spicy Fried Rice, to be precise and grammatically correct! Fried rice, like fried noodles and stir fries, are my lazy lunches and dinners, they get made when I am too tired or sometimes just plain lazy. In other words, we have it pretty often! So why haven’t I got a recipe of it on this site? That’s a good question!
The name for today’s recipe was inspired by an acquaintance of mine on Google+, Shane Dallas. He is a one man G+ publicity machine who travels a lot and recently in Indonesia, he had a Nasi Goreng Gila that, in his words, “nearly blew his head off”!
As soon as I read the name, I knew I had to cook some OTT nasi goreng that weekend. Our usual one is pretty spicy anyway, if it’s not, it’s always served with some form of chilli paste or condiment. So the post was a gentle reminder and an invitation in one for me! After all, every summer, I grow a range of chillies, some weird, some wonderful and some definitely loco hot!
At the moment of writing, my Scotch Bonnets and Trinidad Moruga Scorpions are still going strong, and as these are the two hotter ones, it had to be one of them. But that created a problem. One whole Scotch Bonnet for a pretty spicy nasi goreng at about 300 000 Scoville Units or one Trinidad Moruga Scorpion for a lunatic level nasi goreng at 1.5 million Scoville Units? Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, Catch a Tiger by its Toe and all that later … .
What do you think I went for?
Well, it is called Gila, isn’t it?
So here’s my recipe for a very, very, very spicy Malay Fried Rice. Of course, you could always bring the heat down a notch, or a million notches!
The extreme chilli aside, the recipe itself is what is generally known in Malaysia as Nasi Goreng Kampung (village). This was a staple in my granny’s home when I was growing up, whether as a quick lunch or snack. There was always good food at my granny’s and she’s probably the reason I know no fear in the kitchen! How can I, when at the age of 9 or 10, I was already making cakes and pastries, along with my siblings?
The picture below shows you my granny with her 3 daughters (my mum and 2 aunts) and niece (extreme left), who is a mixture of Pakistani, Malay and Thai. Taken sometime in the very late 50s, judging from my youngest auntie’s age. Incidentally, when this picture was taken, my mum was already a well known recording artist in Singapore and Malaysia, and to some extent, Indonesia. And those dresses were all made my granny!
Besides the usual onion, garlic and chilli, we use an ingredient here that may be exotic to some of you – dried anchovies. Click on the link to read more. You’ll find them at all Oriental stores and most definitely online!
The dried anchovies in the paste provides a wonderful depth of flavour to the dish. While there is no exact substitute, if you have access to dried shrimp or shrimp paste, you can use them instead in the paste with the same amount of dried shrimp but half that of shrimp paste.
Now if you can’t get either, here is a wacky idea (keeping with the whole Gila theme). As I mention on the dried anchovies post, I’ve been told that fried anchovies taste a lot like crispy bacon. So, if you can’t get dried anchovies and love bacon, use the same amount of unfried bacon for anchovies in the paste for this recipe. Then, fry some up until crispy to serve on the side or on top, as in the images on this page.
Vegetarian Nasi Goreng Gila
My go to vegetarian umami ingredient is the shiitake. So my suggestion would be to get a handful of uncooked shiitake mushrooms and chop them up along with the onion, garlic and chilli for the paste.
Tofu makes a great “filling” for this fried rice if you’re vegetarian. You could also increase the amount and types of vegetables used in the recipe but bear in mind that the more “filling” you use, the more the final amount of fried rice, which means you might also need to increase the amount of salt and soy sauce.
Non Vegetarian “Filling”
Use any fast cooking meat, whether it’s sliced chicken breast, seafood or even quick cooking cuts of beef. To get an idea of quick cuts of beef, go on over to the Beef and Broccoli in Oyster Sauce post and scroll down.
You can increase the amount of meat and vegetables if you’d like your fried rice to have more substance, and adjust the seasoning accordingly. If you are planning to cook for more than 4 people, increase everything accordingly, especially the paste ingredients.
If you have access to an Oriental store, get some fishballs; I’m a huge fan. Oriental fishballs are not going to be the same as their Western counterparts like the Fried Gefilte Fish or similar Scandinavian types you find in supermarkets here in the UK. Get the Oriental ones or go for some other protein.
One last thing. Read up on the different types of soy sauces if you’re not sure what the difference is between light and dark as listed in the recipe card below.
That’s it, happy cooking and most importantly,
be afraid, be very afraid be brave!
If you head on over to World Cuisines, you’ll find more recipes from the region.
Nasi Goreng Gila (aka Crazy Spicy Fried Rice)