When I learned that Danielle Chang, founder of LUCKYRICE and host of Lucky Chow, had just released a new cookbook called Lucky Rice, I knew I wanted to share something of hers here. Danielle is an ardent advocate of both Asian culture and Asian food culture. This week, as a treat, we have two recipes — perfect steamed rice and nasi goreng, or Indonesian fried rice. The former is a dish all passionate cooks should be able to make, and the second is simply addictive; the spicier the better. If you make any variations on this nasi goreng, let us know! —Kristina
About Danielle: Danielle is the founder of the LUCKYRICE festival, a national celebration of Asian cultures and cuisines that has taken place in more than seven cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. She is also the host and creator of Lucky Chow, a PBS series about Asian food culture in America. Born in Taipei, Danielle lives with her family in New York.
Perfect Steamed Rice
Makes 4 cups, serves 6
A recipe for steamed rice seems unnecessary: add rice and water to rice cooker, turn on. But while that is a reliable way to make consistently good rice, I also like to cook rice the way our ancestors did. Making perfect steamed rice is a badge of honor that many chefs toil at for years — no, decades — before humbly mastering. There are, of course, hundreds of varieties of rice, each of which will call for its own cooking method. Here is a traditional recipe for steaming short-grain rice with a creamy, almost sticky texture. To add flair to dinner parties, try serving rice in a bamboo steamer lined with napa cabbage leaves to keep the grains from falling through.
– 14 ounces (1¾ cups) uncooked short-grain rice
Place the rice in a heavy pot and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam the rice, without stirring, at a steady boil, until most of the water has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.
Keeping the cover on, reduce the heat to low and let the rice sit undisturbed for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Note: Rinsing rice before cooking removes surface starch, which prevents stickiness, but doing so will wash away vitamins and nutrients. With short-grain rice, where a bit of toothy starchiness is a good thing, there is no need to pre-rinse.
Indonesian Fried Rice
Fried rice is always a crowd-pleaser, and you’ll find this famous dish everywhere in Indonesia: on tin plates at roadside stands and on fine porcelain at Jakarta dinner parties. Spiced with sweet soy sauce, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, and chiles, and tossed with egg and chicken, this aromatic one-dish meal is actually a breakfast favorite. For added crunch, serve it with fried shallots and prawn crackers.
– ½ cup vegetable oil
– 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 4 pieces
– 4 shallots, halved
– 4 garlic cloves
– 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, bruised, and coarsely chopped
– 1 teaspoon belacan shrimp paste
– 4 fresh Thai red chiles, seeds removed
– 2 large eggs, beaten
– 5 cups day-old cooked long-grain rice (see end note)
– ¼ cup kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce
– 4 fried eggs
– 3 scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced
– Fried shallots (optional)
– Prawn crackers (optional)
1. Line a bowl with paper towels and set it aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat until it is nearly smoking. Carefully add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are well fried and dark brown on all sides. Transfer the chicken to the paper towel-lined bowl and let it cool. When it is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into small pieces and set aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok.
2. In a food processor, process the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, belacan, and Thai chiles to form a smooth paste. (If the mixture is too dry to process, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water, being careful not to over-wet it.)
3. Heat the reserved oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the shallot paste and fry it for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and darkened in color. Push the fried paste to one side of the pan, pour in the beaten eggs, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to firm up. Break up the cooked egg and mix it with the fried paste. Add the rice and the shredded chicken to the wok and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes, mixing them with the egg. Stir in the kecap manis and soy sauce, and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, until the ingredients are combined. Divide the rice among 4 bowls and top each serving with a fried egg, scallions, and fried shallots and prawn crackers, if using.
Note: The key to delicious fried rice is to use leftover rice that’s been refrigerated overnight, so that it is dried out and less sticky.
Recipes reprinted from Lucky Rice. Copyright ©2016 by Danielle Chang. Photos by Christina Holmes. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.