Breakfast in Jakarta
A traditional Indonesian rice dish brings nutrition to the morning.
Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but, if it weren’t for my daughter, I’d likely miss out altogether.
In the far-away days before parenthood I woke up on time but typically lazed around in bed until I was 15 minutes late for wherever I needed to be. If I was lucky – really, really lucky – I managed to scarf down a bowl of cereal before I slammed the door.
Today is another story; I have my dear 2-year-old daughter, Ava, to contend with. There’s no more lazing around in bed. She is my very insistent alarm clock and, while we’re usually up hours ahead of my desired schedule, by the time we eat a healthy breakfast and get out the door, we almost always manage to be late for everything. It’s an irony of parenthood I will never understand.
Lately, breakfasts have become rather predictable and usually fall in the category of hot cereal, cold cereal or eggs. In the spirit of imposing a smidgen of variety into our morning routine, I researched breakfasts around the world. I struck gold when I came upon nasi goreng, an Indonesian fried rice dish often eaten in the morning.
While I don’t typically add fried food to my morning arsenal, nasi goreng is surprisingly healthy – each serving of rice is accompanied by an assortment of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and as many “cow’s eyes” as you’d like. (Have no fear: cow’s eyes is the nickname Indonesians give fried eggs.) The kids will love the novelty and change of pace and, if you’re making this with last night’s leftover rice, you’ll be out the door lickety-split, which is a great thing. And that’s experience speaking.
1 1/2 c. dry jasmine rice cooked and refrigerated overnight
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large shallot bulbs, minced (or 1 small onion)
4 large cloves garlic
Minced chili pepper, minced to taste (optional)
1/8 c. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce available at Asian markets)
1 cucumber, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, sliced in wedges
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 fried egg per person
Extra kecap manis
Heat oil up over medium-high in a large wok or skillet. Fry shallots (or onion), garlic and chili pepper, if using, until softened and beginning to color.
Pour on kecap manis and dump in cool rice, breaking up clumps as you go. Stir continuously until the rice is evenly coated with kecap manis and beginning to brown lightly. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Top with cucumber, tomato, green onion and fried egg. Serve immediately.
Also known as Indonesian fried rice with “cow’s eyes,” this dish is Indonesia’s most beloved breakfast special, combining the ultimate in comfort food and healthy produce. The meal takes very little time to make, especially if you use day-old rice.
For those who, in the spirit of breakfast for dinner, prefer to make this dish in the evening and do not have leftover rice to work with, you may cool freshly cooked rice in a thin layer on a cookie sheet in the fridge. You should be able to use it after an hour or two. You’re basically looking for it to be dry to the touch. Moist rice will not fry up right – it will get mushy.
Sasha Martin is cooking one meal for every country in the world. Her picky husband and baby girl are along for the ride. Join the adventure for recipes, reviews and more at www.globaltableadventure.com.
Due to its size (more than 700,000 square miles spread over 6,000 populated islands) and history as an international trade hub, Indonesian cuisine is especially diverse. However, a few dishes, including nasi goreng, are ubiquitous and have spread throughout the world.
Satay: Skewers of grilled meats served in spicey sauces. Dozens of different satays are found throughout Indonesia.
Gado gado: a hearty salad made from a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, including cabbage, cucumber and lettuces, fried tofu, boiled potatoes and boiled eggs served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce.
Rendang: A dish of beef slow cooked in coconut milk and a mix of spices.
Sambal: A common condiment made from various hot peppers ground with spices and other indredients. There are many varieties found throughout Indonesia.