Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)

Nasi Lemak is a popular meal in Malaysia and Singapore, and is eaten at all times of the day. There are many different variations of the dish, with accompaniments that extend from simple traditional ingredients such as sambal ikan bilis (dried anchovies sambal), a few slices of cucumber, fried ikan bilis (anchovies), roasted peanuts, and a hard-boiled egg to non-traditional additional ingredients such as chicken curry, beef rendang, fried chicken or fish.

This is my version of nasi lemak, which is pretty similar to the ones I used to eat back in Malaysia. Here, I use jasmine rice because of its fragrant quality. I find that it closely emulates the fragrance of pandan leaves (of which I believe is often used in most nasi lemak recipes) without actually using the leaves themselves. I recommend finding and using first pressing/unsweetened canned coconut milk instead of the “lite” version to maximize the coconut flavor. You could adjust the coconut milk and water ratio to increase the richness of the rice although I would recommend that you do not use more than an additional ½ cup. Too much coconut milk will just make the rice heavy-tasting and sticky. I use A Taste of Thai Unsweetened First Pressing Coconut Milk that comes in a 13.5 fluid ounce can, which can be found in most supermarkets.

My usual accompaniments for nasi lemak are sambal ikan bilis (for simplicity’s sake, I used ready-made sambal ikan bilis and I highly recommend the Chan Hong brand if you can find it), slices of English Cucumber or lettuce, fried ikan bilis, peanuts (I use Planter’s Cocktail Peanuts), and hard-boiled eggs. A simple meal to put together and a wonderful taste reminiscent of the amazing food in Malaysia. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 piece ginger root, 1 inch thick, peeled and lightly crushed
3½ cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
13.5 fluid ounce coconut milk (1 can)
27 fluid ounce water (2 cans if you measure with the coconut milk can)
1 teaspoon salt

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based 3 or 3½ quart saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally until shallots and garlic are softened.
  3. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  4. Add the coconut milk, water, and salt and stir to mix. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer without lifting the lid, until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender (about 40 minutes).
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and let the rice rest, covered for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.
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6 Replies to “Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)”

  1. […] usual accompaniments for this dish are nasi lemak and yogurt dill cucumber salad. I strongly recommend that if you have spent the time and […]

  2. […] I probably should for a rendang. As with the beef version, I would definitely serve this dish with nasi lemak and the yogurt dill cucumber salad. Please refer to the beef rendang post for the recipe. […]

  3. […] coconut milk and salt to taste, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot/warm with Nasi Lemak, or just plain steamed rice or toasted bread (dip the bread in the curry to soak up the delicious […]

  4. […] for the coconut rice can be found in a previously published post – Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice). Here, we use a combination of jasmine brown rice (2 cups) and white rice (1½ cups) instead of all […]

  5. […] take rendang over a good ribeye any day. Now, that’s how good this dish is. Serve it with nasi lemak (coconut rice), you’ll be in heaven! Enjoy! […]

  6. […] for the fragrant, rich coconut rice can be found in a previously published post – Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice). Alternatively, you can use a combination of jasmine brown rice (2 cups) and white rice (1½ cups) […]

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