If you’re looking for a failsafe dish that will take you from picnics to backyard barbecues to tasty midweek lunches, then look no further than nasi ulam.
Packed with aromatic herbs and toasted coconut, this Malaysian rice salad will become your new go-to dish for the warmer months.
During the Asian Inspirations tour of Malaysia, we tried nasi ulam in various guises, including the blue-hued nasi kerabu at the Kampung Kulinari Experience in Kuala Lumpur (which gets its vivid colour from the butterfly-pea flower) and a herby number with salted duck eggs, served at The Cooking House.
This fragrant, textural salad is the perfect accompaniment to Malaysian satay skewers or Malaysian fried chicken. Some of the classic Malaysian herbs in nasi ulam include turmeric leaf, betel leaf and torch ginger flower, so it’s worth heading to your local Asian greengrocer to see what’s available, but don’t be afraid to use your own mix of herbs if you can’t find everything.
It’s essential that you slice the herbs without bruising them, so brush up on your chiffonade slicing method before you get started.
Preparation time: 30-60 mins
Cooking time: <15 mins
4 cups cooked jasmine rice, chilled
2 lemongrass stems (pale part only), thinly sliced
1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted until golden
4 wing beans (or snake beans), finely sliced
2 red eschalots, thinly sliced
4 betel leaves, shredded (use the chiffonade method)
3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
¼ cup Vietnamese mint leaves, shredded
¼ cup mint leaves, shredded
¼ cup Thai basil leaves, shredded
¼ cup lemon basil leaves, shredded
2 torch ginger flowers (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger)
¼ cup dried shrimp
1 long red chilli (optional), sliced, to garnish
Toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, then serve with satay skewers, fried chicken, or as a light lunch. Garnish with sliced red chilli, if desired.
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