Nasi goreng's just fried rice in Malay. Unlike the Chinese egg fried rice that more people are familiar with, the egg is fried on the side. It's an optional thing, fried egg just makes this nasi goreng "special". In other words, this fried rice is bare. No chicken or prawns or diced carrots and peas, though of course, you can definitely pimp it up for a super special version.
But you really don't need to. Fried rice was always a quick, easy, tasty and cheap way to use up leftover rice. The homemade sambal tumis (belachan chilli paste), kecap manis (thick sweet soy sauce), tomato paste, and of course, the 'breath of the wok' make nasi goreng very fragrant and more-ish, and is my favourite type of fried rice among the many many types in Singapore.
Fried rice was one of the first things I cooked that was more than borderline edible, so I would say it isn't difficult to get right:
1. Use leftover cold rice (cook rice, fluff up then keep overnight in the fridge). Fresh rice is warm and moist and clumps together.
2. Don't overcrowd the wok/pan, you'll end up with a cooked, half-cooked, and over-cooked mix.
3. A hot hot wok.
Nasi Goreng "Special" (Malay Sambal Fried Rice)
2 cups of cold cooked long grain rice (jasmine and basmati are good choices for fluffy, separate rice.)
2-3 shallots, chopped finely
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp of kecap manis (I use 2 tbsp of traditionally fermented soy sauce + 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses for a more natural and accessible option)
2-3 tbsp sambal tumis
2 tsp tomato puree (some hawkers use ketchup here!)
2 tbsp groundnut oil/unrefined palm oil/coconut oil
2 eggs, fried till edges are crispy (for "special")
1/2 cucumber, sliced
small handful crispy fried shallots
2 spring onion, chopped
1. Heat wok over high heat, add the oil, swirl to coat bottom of wok. Once oil is hot, add the shallots and garlic and stirfry quickly for a few seconds till fragrant.
2. Add the sambal tumis and fry for a while too till fragrant.
3. Add the rice and mix well, breaking up clumps with your spatula.
4. Add the rest of the seasonings, stir-fry for about 3 min more till the mixture is well-combined. Stir in half of the spring onions, remove from heat.
5. Serve with fried egg and cucumber on the side, top with crispy fried shallots and remaining spring onions (and more sambal chilli if you're Singaporean!)
Sambal chilli makes everything taste good, so nasi goreng is no different, especially with all its accompaniments (fried shallots are not optional). The main star though, is still the rice- each separate grain of rice is coated with the spicy chilli, salty belachan, plus sweet soy sauce and savoury tomato. And if it's still not special enough, there's that fried egg on the top. No one resists a runny golden yolk.