Recipes from spiced corn fritters to chicken nasi goreng

Louise Hagger
Louise Hagger

Chicken nasi goreng – nasi goreng ayam

I’ve been eating chicken fried rice for as long as I can recall and it’s a dish of which I never tire. This version of nasi goreng is my absolute favourite. The galangal and white pepper give it a good amount of heat, which is balanced by the sweetness of the kecap manis and the saltiness of the soy and fish sauce. The fried duck egg with a runny yolk on top is sheer luxury. With the added crunch of green beans, fried shallots and kerupuk or prawn crackers, this dish hits all the right spots and is my favourite choice for a Friday night in.

Origin: Popular all over Indonesia
Chilli heat: Mild
Sambal suggestion: Peanut sauce
Serves: 2 as a large main or 4 as side

2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into small, bite-sized cubes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
8cm piece of galangal or ginger (about 40g), peeled and woody stem removed, finely chopped
1 small banana shallot or 2 Thai shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Handful of green beans, chopped into small chunks 2 spring onions, chopped into large chunks
1⁄4 tsp ground turmeric
95g jasmine or basmati rice, cooked and cooled (240g cooked weight)
2 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
½ tsp fish sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
Sea salt and white pepper, to taste Coconut oil or sunflower oil, for frying

To serve

2 duck or hen’s eggs
1 tbsp fried shallots
1⁄2 long red chilli, thinly sliced Kerupuk (Indonesian crackers) or prawn crackers

Season the chicken pieces with salt and white pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wok over a high heat and fry the chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, add the garlic, galangal or ginger and shallots and cook over a medium-high heat until fragrant. Add the green beans, spring onions and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.

Add the rice to the pan, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon. Ensure all the ingredients are well combined and the rice is warmed through. Return the chicken to the pan. Season with the kecap manis, fish sauce, light soy sauce and a large pinch of white pepper, and extra salt if needed.

Meanwhile, fry the eggs. Place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add

1 tablespoon of oil. Once shimmering, crack the eggs directly into the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the whites are partially cooked. Tilt the pan and spoon the hot oil over the egg whites until they are fully cooked (I like my yolk runny, but cook yours to your liking). Season with salt.

Divide the fried rice between two serving plates and garnish with the fried shallots, sliced chilli and fried eggs on top. Serve with crackers.

Spiced corn fritters – perkedel jagung

My aunty Tje Ie in Kupang, Timor, loves to make these when she has visitors – a tradition I’ve carried over to my home in London. Juicy, chunky kernels of corn come together with fragrant spices and aromatics to form these delicious fritters. They keep for up to 2 days in the fridge and, if prepared in advance, are best reheated in the oven for 10 minutes at 170C/150C fan/gas 3.

If using canned or frozen corn, squeeze out as much moisture as possible – the easiest way is in between layers of paper towels.

Origin: Popular all over Indonesia Chilli heat Mild
Makes: 15 large fritters

4 corn-on-the-cob or 350g canned or frozen sweetcorn kernels
1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for deep-frying 6cm piece of ginger (about 30g), peeled and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
2 small banana shallots or 4 Thai shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large spring onions, thinly sliced
5 kaffir lime leaves (optional), stems removed, very thinly sliced
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3 pinches of sea salt
Large pinch of black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
6 tbsp cornflour
1 quantity of tomato sambal

Fresh tomato and basil dabu-dabu or sriracha chilli sauce, to serve (optional)

If using fresh corn, remove the outer husk and threads, then carefully slice down the outside of the cob with a knife, as close to the core as possible, to remove the kernels. Set them aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, chillies and shallots and fry, stirring, for 10 minutes. Blend to a medium-fine paste in a small food processor with the spring onions and kaffir lime leaves, if using. Mix the spice paste with the corn kernels in a bowl and add the coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and eggs. Stir well to combine, then add the cornflour.

Fill a deep saucepan one-third full with oil. Heat the oil to 180C. (If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, check the oil is at temperature by adding a cube of bread; it should turn golden in 15 seconds.) Carefully drop a dessertspoonful of the batter into the hot oil – it should settle into a roughly circular shape. Repeat to make 6-8 fritters, without overcrowding the pan. Fry until golden all over, about 4 minutes. Test one to ensure it is cooked through. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat to use up all the mixture, topping up the oil if needed. Serve immediately, with sambal or chilli sauce to dip, if using.

Variation: Pan-fried corn fritters

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until the oil shimmers. Add spoonfuls of the corn mixture to the oil, flattening them lightly. Turn over after 2-3 minutes – they should be golden all over. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes – test one to ensure it is cooked through. Drain any excess oil on paper towels and serve.

Peanut and banana ice-cream

This soft and velvety-smooth ice cream is the perfect finish to an Indonesian meal. Homemade ice cream can be a lot of work, but this no-churn version takes only 30 minutes of hands-on time and tastes absolutely delicious. Chopped, roasted peanuts are stirred through the ice cream before freezing, giving it a lovely, crunchy texture. Once in the freezer, there is no need to do anything further and it is ready to eat in 4-6 hours.

You won’t find this recipe in the traditional food markets, but it comes with all the flavours of Indonesia. If you’re feeling decadent, stir dark chocolate chunks through the ice cream with the peanuts before freezing. It will keep in the freezer for 3 months.

Makes: 1.6l

300g unsalted roasted peanuts, or 100g unsalted roasted peanuts and 200g chunky peanut butter, plus extra chopped roasted peanuts to serve
480ml double cream
400g frozen banana chunks
400ml condensed milk
80g caster sugar

Place 200g of the peanuts in a food processor and blend to a coarse paste. (You can skip this step if you are using peanut butter.) Roughly chop the remaining 100g peanuts and set aside.

Whisk the double cream to stiff peaks in a large bowl and set aside.

Place the frozen banana chunks in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the condensed milk, sugar and coarse peanut paste or peanut butter and blend again.

Add the banana mixture to the whipped cream and whisk together until well combined. Stir through the reserved chopped peanuts.

Pour the ice-cream mixture into an airtight container. (You many need to divide the mixture between two containers.) Freeze for a minimum of 4-6 hours, but ideally overnight. Remove the container from the freezer 10 minutes before serving to allow the ice cream to soften. Serve sprinkled with chopped peanuts.

‘Coconut & Sambal’ by Lara Lee (Bloomsbury Publishing, £26) is out now. Food photography by Louise Hagger

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