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Your ultimate guide to Malaysian nasi goreng

Nasi goreng, which literally translates to “fried rice” in Malay, has ignited a few cross-country fights over the past few years.

The most famous incident was when former England footballer Rio Ferdinand twitted “Nasi goreng lunch… Keeping it local in Singapore.”

Indonesians were quick to correct Ferdinand saying nasi goreng is not from Singapore, but Indonesia.

Meanwhile, some Malaysians jumped into the squabble, slamming Indonesians for wanting to claim every dish in the region including rendang.

However, do you know that chao fan or fried rice in Mandarin has been served in China since 4,000 BC?

Perhaps now China can stop claiming the South China Sea and stake their claim on nasi goreng instead?

Regardless of who owns nasi goreng, a visit to any Southeast Asian country especially Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore would not be complete without tasting this dish.

In Malaysia, there are plenty of nasi goreng variations served in different parts of the country.

Some of these variations cannot be found in its neighbouring countries.

So here is your complete guide to Malaysian nasi goreng:

1.Nasi Goreng Ayam/Udang/Kambing/Daging

If you see this on the menu, you just need to choose your type of protein.
This fried rice is cooked with chicken (ayam), udang (prawn), kambing (mutton) and daging (beef).

2.Nasi Goreng Special

Nasi goreng special is usually an in-house specialty. However, most often they just add a sunny side up egg with a piece of fried chicken on top of your nasi goreng.

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3.Nasi Goreng Tom Yam

This Malaysian nasi goreng has a Thai inspiration.
It is cooked with tom yam paste, lime, sometimes with a bit of lemongrass and fish sauce.

4.Nasi Goreng Pattaya

This Malaysian nasi goreng might sound like it comes from Thailand but it is believed to originate from Malaysia.
It is made by wrapping chicken fried rice in a thin fried omelette, almost similar to Japanese omurice. Nasi goreng Pattaya is often served with chili sauce, tomato ketchup and slices of cucumber.

5.Nasi Goreng Hailam

Hailam refers to a Chinese cooking style which usually uses watery soy sauce.
Hence if it is Nasi Goreng Hailam, it is fried rice served in vegetables, chicken or prawn cooked in Hailam-style.

6.Nasi Goreng Kerabu

Nasi Goreng Kerabu is a fried rice dish serve with ginger flower (bunga kantan), curry leaves and fried anchovies.
It is inspired by Kelantanese famous dish nasi kerabu, a blue-coloured rice served with dried fish or fried chicken, pickles and keropok.

7.Nasi Goreng Cina

The irony of nasi goreng cina (Chinese) in Malaysia it is usually can be found in Malay restaurants instead of Chinese restaurants.
There are plenty of nasi goreng cina variations out there but they all have one thing in common, sesame oil.

8.Nasi Goreng Kampung

If you love fried anchovies and kangkung (water spinach) then you will love this dish.
A nasi goreng kampung is not nasi goreng kampung without fried anchovies and kangkung.

9.Nasi Goreng Yong chow
Yong chow fried rice.

This dish can be found mainly in Chinese restaurants.
It is fried rice cooked with char siu pork or lap cheong (Chinese sausage), scallion and vegetables such as long beans, carrots and green peas.

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10.Nasi Goreng Belacan

Nasi goreng belacan is rice fried with shrimp paste (belacan), fish or chicken and long beans.

11.Nasi Goreng Ikan Masin

If you are into salty food then this is the Malaysian nasi goreng for you.
It is fried rice cooked with salted fish.

12.Nasi Goreng Mamak

Nasi goreng mamak is cooked in Indian-Muslim style. Nasi goreng mamak tends to be oilier than most Malaysian nasi goreng. Besides chilli paste, other main ingredients of this dish are dried tofu, fish cakes and curry powder Maggi’s instant noodle

13.Nasi Goreng Dabai

This is a Sarawak specialty of fried rice. It is rice fried with a seasonal native fruit called buah dabai (Canarium odontophylum).

14.Nasi Goreng USA

Again no, this Malaysian nasi goreng does not get any inspiration from the United States of America.
In fact, the acronym USA means udang (prawn), sotong (squid) and ayam (chicken).
Thus, this fried rice is served with prawn, squid and chicken.

15.Nasi Goreng Paprik

The key ingredient in nasi goreng paprik is the sauteed chili paste. With a bit tom-yum paste, this fried rice is a little bit on the spicy side.
This is another Malaysian nasi goreng inspired by its neighbour Thailand. The word paprik refers to Thai phrase pad prik where pad is stir-fry and prik means chilli.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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