Fried rice is a comfort food in almost every Eastern culture where rice is a staple, and the styles vary widely among traditions cultures. But if you ask me, one cuisine has nailed it above all the others; and its version isn't just a way to use up leftover rice. It's a reason to make a huge pot of rice in the first place.
I first learned about Indonesian fried rice, nasi goreng, in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. I have an unabashed love of Southeastern Asian cuisine in general, but I especially love going beyond the standard Thai and Vietnamese to learning about new ingredients and techniques not found anywhere else in the world. Ever heard of daun salam leaves? Candlenuts? Holland chiles? Read this book.
I have made countless dishes from that book, karis and stews and Nyona pickles, but the one I return to again and again is the nasi goreng. I almost have it memorized, and so, even though I don't have the book on me currently, I can tell that Danielle Chang's version, from her new cookbook Lucky Rice, is going to taste delicious.
Nasi goreng begins with a flavorful paste of chiles, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste (a key Indonesian ingredient), that's fried and cooked with the leftover rice, eggs, an Indonesian sweet soy sauce called kecap manis, and topped with flavorful aromatics.
If you've got your wok technique down, this is a great way to implement your skills. And if you've never made anything like this, this is definitely worth expanding your repertoire.
I'm making rice tonight, which means this tomorrow. You should too.
Danielle Chang's Nasi Goreng [DesignSponge.com]