Nyonya fried rice is a childhood rainy day staple for any Nyonya or Peranakan children out there. When the aromatic smell of the pungent shrimp paste, or belacan fills the air and wakes you up in an almost cartoon-ish fashion, you know that you are going to start your day right.
A well-balanced meal, Nyonya fried rice, unlike other versions of fried rice, compensates its unhealthy aspect (because it is fried using oil) with a healthy portion of vegetable medley or as we Malaysians call it, kerabu. Kerabu consists of many local herbs or ulam, sliced thinly to create such a fragrant and almost spice-like flavour that gives you just the right amount of freshness, melding almost seamlessly with the strong shrimp flavour you get from the belacan.
A Taste of Old Malacca
As a Peranakan myself, classic dishes such as the Nyonya fried rice gives me a deep sense of nostalgia. Although the Peranakan community has a wide variety of classic dishes that showcases the refined palates of the Peranakan community, I personally think that the Nyonya fried rice celebrates the amalgamation of two cultures that defined my community in the most simplest of ways. A recipe that has been kept constant throughout the ages, the Nyonya fried rice is one recipe that rightly earns a place in everyone’s little book of recipes.
a) Fried Rice
- 3/4 cup dried shrimp, soaked in boiling water, drained, blitzed in a food processor to a crumbly consistency
- 160g peeled prawn flesh, de-veined and diced
- 1 cup of raw jasmine rice, washed, cooked and refrigerated
- 2 tablespoons of light soy
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten lightly
- white pepper
b) Kerabu Salad
- 1 medium cucumber, quartered length-wise, remove seeds and sliced diagonally, 2-3 mm in thickness
- 1 small green mango, peeled and shredded finely
- 1 small carrot, peeled and shredded finely
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- Half fresh red chili, de-seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt or fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon of dried shrimp, fried and minced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of crushed peanuts (optional)
- 2 tablespoon of lime juice
- 1 teaspoon of vinegar
- 8 dried long red chilies, de-seeded, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 4-5 small red shallots or 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- To prepare the spice, blend all of the ingredients into a course paste.
- Heat a wok or large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Pour in the spice paste and, stirring continuously, saute the paste for about 7-10 minutes until fragrant and caramelized. You will know the paste is ready when very little steam rises from the wok and the colour will have deepened. Add pounded dried shrimp and stir fry for about a minute or until fragrant and slightly toasted.
- Add prawns and stir fry until just cooked. Immediately add rice, soy, white pepper and sugar. Cook until rice has separated, and is tender. Make a well in the middle of the wok pushing rice to the sides. Crack 3 whole eggs in and let it sit for a while so the bottom has a while to develop some colour. With the spatula flip egg to cook the other side, then chop it up to ensure all the egg is cooked.
- Scoop the fried rice to individual plates and garnish the sides of the plate with cucumber and mango kerabu and optional fried Keropòk Ikan. Since the Nyonya fried rice is already spicy, you do not need to serve it with extra sambal belacan.
Cook Once, Enjoy the Whole Day
Nothing makes the heart happier when you cook something simple but enough to feed you the whole day. This Nyonya fried rice is just perfect for days you just want to whip up something fast, delicious and in large quantities so you can keep the cleaning to the minimum. Best of all, in these trying times when travelling overseas is not an option, this fried rice recipe is one interesting alternative to travel but through your senses.
If you’ve gone ahead and tried out this Nyonya Fried Rice recipe, why not log on to Instagram and Facebook, follow Butterkicap and me for more recipes of your favourite Malaysian dishes. If you have any feedback, comments or even just want to share your experience when making this fried rice, let me know or share your success on your page while tagging #butterkicap and #justinescakesandkueh. Nothing brings more joy to me than celebrating with you!