If you’ve been to Indonesia, there’s a good chance you’ve tried Nasi Goreng. Typically, it’s a dish that features some type of meat, an egg and some shrimp paste. There’s a buzzing vegan scene in places like Bali these days, so I’m sure you can find a vegan version of this traditional meal without searching too far and wide.
But there’s no need to go searching for it when you can make delicious vegan Nasi Goreng at home yourself! Really it’s just a fried rice dish – that’s what Nasi Goreng literally means – so it’s super duper easy to make.
In this version, the scrambled tofu acts as both the protein and the egg. My husband mixed his tofu in with the rice and veggies so it was just like one big bowl of food, but I kept mine separate. Each to their own. Rules suck anyway 😉
Likewise, when it comes to the veggies, choose your favourites because anything goes really. I’ve made this dish before with broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and zucchini as well as the ones called for in this recipe.
All work beautifully because really, this dish is all about…
The Vegan Nasi Goreng Sauce
Yep. The sauce is the main event for this dish. It might look like a lot of ingredients but most of them will be things that you already have in your fridge or pantry.
Sea kelp flakes can be found at most health food stores and are a powerhouse of nutritional benefits. Kelp is one of the world’s richest sources of iodine, it helps to control blood sugar (and so can be really helpful for diabetics), is great for the immune system, thyroid function and even has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a great source of Vitamin K and folate.
You can get kelp in a variety of forms. In its original preserved form I find it a little difficult to stomach – the flavour tends to be stronger and the texture a bit… weird. You can even get it in liquid or capsules to take as a supplement, but I find kelp flakes are an easy way to get it into my diet. Don’t forget to choose organic kelp, because this guarantees it’s been harvested from an unpolluted part of the ocean. I added kelp into this Nasi Goreng sauce recipe in place of the shrimp paste, because it adds that “seafoody” flavour, along with all the extra nutrition.
Another element of this sauce, which does add a little extra cooking time, is the roasting of the chilis and garlic cloves. It’s definitely an optional step, but if you have the time (only 15 minutes!) it’s sooooo worth it, because it just adds a really nice depth of flavour to the sauce.
Once all your ingredients are in, it’s just a quick buzz in the blender and your delicious plant based Nasi Goreng sauce is ready to go. If you want to be really organised, you can even get it ready while you’re pre-cooking your rice and then by the time you’re ready to cook you’ll only have to prep the vegetables.
(That was a note to self, by the way. Ohh to be that organised. Maybe one day I’ll learn!)
You can really use any type of medium to long grain rice for this Nasi Goreng. At a restaurant, it’ll often be made with plain old white rice, but I prefer my rice to have more nutritional value so for this recipe I used organic brown basmati.
The secret trick to perfect fried rice is to pre-cook the rice as per the instructions for your chosen type using the absorption method. Then you let it cool in the fridge for an hour or so before frying it, as this will help prevent it from becoming sticky or ‘gluggy.’
However… the refrigeration part isn’t totally essential. Only if you have time and you want it to look perfect. I didn’t actually refrigerate the rice for the dish in these photos, but I made sure the liquid was fully absorbed and fluffed it well with a fork before frying it. It definitely was a tad stickier than when I didn’t skip the fridge step, and didn’t look quite as pretty. But my tastebuds certainly couldn’t tell the difference!
The Scrambled Tofu
I luuurve scrambled tofu. There are so many ways you can have it, but here I’ve kept it really simple and just flavoured it with a bit of turmeric, black Himalayan salt (a.k.a Kala Namak, for an eggy flavour – see below), a couple of pinches of regular sea salt and black pepper.
Of course, pepper. Wherever there’s turmeric, there should be black pepper. Why? Because the piperine found in the black pepper increases the bio-availability (i.e. your body’s absorption capacity) of the turmeric by up to 2000%. Curcumin – the active component of the turmeric – is a very powerful antioxidant with strong antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. So you wanna be absorbing as much of that sh$t as possible, thanks very much!
Black Himalayan salt can be a bit trickier to find – I bought mine online but I have seen it in Asian and vegan grocers before. If you’ve never tried it, don’t expect it to taste anything like its pink ‘sister’… it doesn’t! It’s extremely pungent and has a flavour that can only really be likened to egg. This makes it a really cool addition to vegan egg imitation dishes! It must be used in moderation because you CAN overdo it.
I used a firm variety for this scrambled tofu, but if you are/were one who prefers soft scrambled eggs, try using semi-firm tofu instead. The difference in the final texture between the two varieties is quite different, so try both to know which you prefer.
The best part about the scrambled tofu is that it literally only takes about 5 minutes to prepare!
I’m sure you’re going to love this one. Do let me know in the comments 😉
Gluten free, vegan and full of flavour
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried onion flakes (or onion powder)
- 3 fresh (or dried) kaffir lime leaves (tough stems removed)
- 2 fresh long red chilis
- 4 cloves fresh garlic (unpeeled)
- 3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 3 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1/3 cup tamari
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp sea kelp flakes
- 1.5 cups brown long grain rice
- 1/8 wedge drumhead cabbage (about 2 cups when sliced)
- 1 red capsicum (or bell pepper)
- 3 spring onions (or shallots)
- 200 grams green beans
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 fresh tomato for serving
- 1 fresh lemon for serving
- 400 grams firm tofu (or semi-firm for a softer scramble)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/8 tsp kala namak (black Himalayan salt) *See note
- salt & pepper to taste
Cook the rice according to the absorption method on the package. Fluff with a fork once it has cooled slightly then place it in the fridge for an hour while you prepare the sauce and veg. Refrigeration is optional but helps prevent the rice from sticking together when frying it.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC and place the garlic cloves and chilis on a baking tray. Roast them for 15 minutes. This step is also optional but adds great depth of flavour to the sauce!
Add all sauce ingredients - including the roasted chilli (roughly chopped) and the flesh from the garlic cloves - to a blender or bullet and buzz for a minute or so until the sauce is smooth.
Prepare the vegetables by slicing the cabbage and capsicum, finely chopping the spring onions and removing the stems of the green beans. You can cut the green beans in half if they are long.
Heat the peanut oil in a large wok over high heat, then add the vegetables, stir-frying for 2-3 minutes.
Add about a quarter of the nasi goreng sauce and stir fry for a further 1-2 minutes.
Crumble the cooled rice into the wok then drizzle the remaining sauce as evenly as possible over the rice, then stir it all together, cooking for a further 2-3 minutes or so until the sauce, the rice and the vegetables are well combined and the smell is making you hungry.
To make the scrambled tofu: Crumble the tofu roughly into a bowl. Heat the peanut oil in a frypan over high heat then add the tofu, turmeric, kala namak, salt and pepper. Stir until heated through and the tofu is evenly coloured by the turmeric.
Serve the vegan Nasi Goreng with wedges of fresh tomato and lemon, and with the scrambled tofu on the side. YUM.
*Kala Namak - or black Himalayan salt - is a pungent salt that adds an 'eggy' flavour to food. You can find it in most Asian grocers or online, but if you don't wish to use it or can't find it, just add a pinch of extra salt instead.