Posted by: coolerbecky | February 7, 2010

Breakfast, Singapore Style – Nasi Lemak

(Bonus points if you get it in a banana leaf.)

Nasi Lemak literally translates into “Fatty Rice”. Nasi Lemak is a pretty basic Asian breakfast, actually. It’s rice. With stuff. In a banana leaf. While the name is rather unflattering, it’s a fairly apt description of the rice portion of the dish, which is soaked in coconut cream before steaming, giving it a deliciously fluffy and smooth texture.

The dish itself started off as a standard school breakfast in Malaysia – sold to students in the early hours of the morning, but has since made its way down to Singapore. The rich and fragrant rice is usually packaged with some or all of the following items…

  • Cool sliced cucumbers
  • Roasted peanuts1
  • Fried, dried Ikan Bilis (mini-anchovies) OR a stick of otak-otak (a kind of spicy fish cake) OR a cheap fried fish
  • A fried egg OR a hard boiled egg
  • A glob of hot, spicy sambal sauce.

Most Nasi Lemak stalls will offer you extras in the form of achar (pickled vegetables), a piece of fried chicken, a bergedil (fried potato cake), cuttlefish… Each of these unrelated items really adds new elements to a ballet of taste that is Nasi Lemak – the end result being a delicious dish that can be served both hot or cold.

Cooler Becky likes her Nasi Lemak with a fried fish (or Ikan Bilis), a piece or two of bergedil, fried egg, a distinct lack of roasted peanuts and a nice glob of spicy sweet sambal chilli. Otak-otak is pretty nice too.

If you’re not much of a restaurant goer, The Silly Girl Of Dews and Raindrops, has a pretty simple recipe for it here. The picture of Nasi Lemak on this page has been borrowed from her as well2.

Madam Kwong of Madam Kwong’s Kitchen also does a pretty good Nasi Lemak recipe on her blog. It’s a bit more complex, but it does yield pretty good results.


1Due to an unfortunate allergy, Cooler Becky has never tasted these and therefore cannot tell you what they taste like.
2Cooler Becky became too sick to eat Nasi Lemak on her last trip back to Singapore and was thus unable to take a photograph for your pleasure.

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