Nasi lemak, a spicy coconut rice, is the national dish of Malaysia, where it is eaten for breakfast. If that is a little too adventurous, it makes a great weekend dinner for friends.
By Matt Tebbutt
From Saturday Kitchen
400ml tin coconut milk
thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk
350g/12oz basmati rice
1 piece pandan leaf, tied in a knot, to serve
For the sambal
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp shrimp paste
1–2 tsp red chilli paste
250g/9oz dried anchovies, soaked in water and drained
1 tbsp caster sugar
250ml/9fl oz tamarind paste mixed with 400ml/13fl oz water
For the garnish
1 free-range egg
vegetable oil for deep frying
handful small dried white anchovies
handful peanuts, skin-on if possible
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
Put the coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, rice and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan. Add 400ml/14fl oz water, stir and cook over a medium heat for 10–15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.
To make the sambal, heat the oil in a frying pan and sweat the onion and garlic for 5–7 minutes, until soft. Add the shrimp paste, chilli paste and most of the soaked anchovies and stir. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt and pour in the tamarind water. Simmer until it reduces to a thick paste. Set aside.
Meanwhile, to prepare the garnish, boil the eggs in water for 7–10 minutes; the yolks should be firm. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the shells and cut the eggs in half. Preheat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180C. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Deep-fry the dried white anchovies for 3 minutes, or until crispy. Toast the peanuts in a dry frying pan.
Pick the lemongrass out of the rice and discard. Put the rice in a small bowl and press down until it is compacted. Upturn the rice in the middle of the pandan leaf. Arrange the egg, peanuts, cucumber and remaining anchovies around the rice and scatter over the crispy anchovies.