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    • Nasi Lemak, the Malaysian national dish
    • 13 years ago by Rama
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      Literally translated, this ?rice in fat? is cooked with rich coconut milk - a necessary evil - which lends the most heavenly creaminess to the rice that cannot be achieved with anything else.

      Although the origins of nasi lemak has never been documented, it ubiquitous presence permeates every corner of our streets, at every meal hour. We love our nasi lemak enough to have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, or even in the wee hours of the morning at the mamak stall. You can find nasi lemak at the humblest of warungs by the roadside to the most posh restaurants in hotels. Typically accompanied by fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies), spicy sambal, roasted groundnuts, slices of cucumber and egg wedges, there are also other side dishes that complements the nasi lemak, such as squids, rendang chicken, beef, mutton, paru (lungs) and more. In East Malaysia, it is sometimes served with fried salted fish on the side.

      The key ingredients to making good nasi lemak, besides the coconut milk, are pandan leaves, ginger knobs and the essential pinch of salt to bring out the aroma of the rice. It is worthwhile to extract fresh coconut milk for this step, because it has a less ?artificial? flavour. While the basic side dishes like fried anchovies, cucumber and hard-boiled egg wedges are maintained in this version of nasi lemak, we have chosen two other special dishes, which are Tangy Assam Prawns and Chili Garlic Mussels to be featured alongside the rice.

      The Tangy Assam Prawns calls for buah keras, also known as candlenut, which is available from most local sundry shops. If you can't get hold of these, they can be substituted with neutral-tasting nuts like Brazil nuts. The assam paste dilution is rather like a game of trial and error - if you find that you have poured in too much and the taste is too sour, it can be partially salvaged by adding more palm sugar to neutralize the acids.

      The Chili Garlic Mussels may sound a tad unconventional for nasi lemak, but this mildly spicy and savoury dish is guaranteed to make you indulge in second helpings of the rice. The colour of the dish is really a personal preference, some like it light brown with flecks of chili visible, while others, like myself, prefer it darker and caramelized with more thick soy sauce. Top all of these with crispy papadums and you're good to go.

      Source: The Weekend Chef & Malaysia Site

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