Nyonya Jungle Herb Rice (Nasi Ulam)
By Pearly Kee
Nyonya Jungle Herb Rice or Nasi Ulam is a flavoursome Malay rice salad that is perfumed with finely julienned succulent herbs. An ideal dish for vegetarians.
Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 2 persons
A: To Cook The Rice
150g raw rice, washed
75ml coconut cream
B: Mix With The Rice
2 tablespoons salted fish, (4 cm x 4 cm cut into cubes) deep-fried & pounded
2 tablespoons dried shrimps, toasted & pounded
2–3 tablespoons grated coconut, dry toasted in a wok/saucepan
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1–2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
C: Add To The Mix
10 shallots, peeled
1 lemon grass, white portion only
1 torch ginger bud
3 stalks Vietnamese mint (laksa leaves)
3 stalks Thai basil leaves
3 stalks mint leaves
4 sand ginger leaves
10 wild pepper leaves
1 turmeric leaf
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 cm fresh turmeric root
1. To cook the rice: mix the grains with 150ml water and 75ml coconut cream in a rice cooker to cook. Alternatively, put all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until rice is done. Let it cool down. Using a fork, flake the rice to fluff it up. Let it stand for 15 minutes before tossing in the leaves.
2. To wash C ingredients: Fill up a large basin with water and put in all the leaves. Soak for 15 minutes. Shake off excess water. Discard the stalks before plucking the leaves. Using paper towels, pat dry all the leaves starting with the larger leaves followed by the smaller ones.
3. Add bruised lemongrass, followed by coconut milk and water. Reduce stove heat to low. Using a spatula, stir the gravy continually to prevent the coconut milk from splitting (a process where the coconut oil separates from the milk solids, giving it a curdled appearance).
4. To shred the leaves: Stack smaller ones on top of the larger leaves. Roll them tightly together into ‘cigars’. Using a sharp knife, shred them finely. Repeat until all the leaves have been shredded. Set aside.
5. Scrape off the turmeric skin and dry it with a paper towel. Slice it thinly and shred finely to resemble match sticks.
6. In a large mixing bowl, place the cooked rice, finely shredded turmeric and B ingredients together. Using a large spoon, stir the mixture together until the rice turns orange. Season with sugar and salt. Mix well.
7. Let the rice mixture stand for 15 minutes at room temperature to allow the sugar and salt to dissolve before tossing in the sliced leaves. Mix thoroughly before serving.
TIP: Always pat dry the leaves before shredding and adding to the rice. Excess moisture in the leaves will turn the rice soggy.
TECHNIQUE: Coconut cream is the first extract of grated coconut that’s undiluted. It’s thicker and creamier than coconut milk and yields a more aromatic coconut-flavoured rice.
Pearly Kee is the author of the award-winning cookbook, Pearly’s Nyonya Pantry. It won Best Chinese Cuisine Book at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2016.
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