Nasi Lemak Recipe (Malaysian Coconut Milk Rice with Anchovies Sambal)
January 09th, 2007 161 Comments

Nasi Lemak Recipe (Malaysian Coconut Milk Rice with Anchovies Sambal)

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Recipe: Nasi Lemak


Coconut Milk Steamed Rice

2 cups of rice
3 screwpine leaves (tie them into a knot as shown above)
Salt to taste
1 small can of coconut milk (5.6 oz size)
Some water

Tamarind Juice

1 cup of water
Tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)

Sambal Ikan Bilis (Dried anchovies sambal)

1/2 red onion
1 cup ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
1 clove garlic
4 shallots
10 dried chillies
1 teaspoon of belacan (prawn paste)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar

Other ingredients

2 hard boiled eggs (cut into half)
3 small fish (sardines or smelt fish)
1 small cucumber (cut into slices and then quartered)

  • Just like making steamed rice, rinse your rice and drain. Add the coconut milk, a pinch of salt, and some water. Add the pandan leaves into the rice and cook your rice.
  • Rinse the dried anchovies and drain the water. Fry the anchovies until they turn light brown and put aside.
  • Pound the prawn paste together with shallots, garlic, and deseeded dried chilies with a mortar and pestle. You can also grind them with a food processor.
  • Slice the red onion into rings.
  • Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and fry the spice paste until fragrant.
  • Add in the onion rings.
  • Add in the ikan bilis and stir well.
  • Add tamarind juice, salt, and sugar.
  • Simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens. Set aside.
  • Clean the small fish, cut them into half and season with salt. Deep fry.
  • Cut the cucumber into slices and then quartered into four small pieces.
  • Dish up the steamed coconut milk rice and pour some sambal ikan bilis on top of the rice.
  • Serve with fried fish, cucumber slices, and hard-boiled eggs.

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161 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Eddie Hoos says:

    Nasi Lemak was one of the first Malaysian things I learned to make. But I want to try this recipe now. It is a little different than the one I used and have been thinking about making it again for the last few weeks.
    Thank you!

  2. NZL says:

    What type of rice do you use? Also, could it be cooked in a rice cooker?

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  4. Rachel says:

    How many people does this serve? Am thinking of making it for our student flat dinner party in Birmingham XD!

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  6. S says:

    What kind of chilli do you use?

  7. Lynn Chua says:

    Can I prepare the sambal ikan bilis in advance, say one day? If yes, how do I store it? Inside the fridge or at room temperature? Thank you

    • june says:

      yes. just cook the sambal first by ommitting the anchovies. put it in an airtight bowl, store it in fridge.

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  9. Jillian says:

    Hi, I was wondering why my sambal is dark-ish in color instead of red. I used dried chilies as the recipe. I thought of substituting with fresh chilies to get the beautiful red color. The recipe didn’t say soak the chilies, but should I have? Thanks

  10. Alex Wong says:

    Like you, I didn’t perfect my technique for Nasi Lemak until late in life – it is definitely not a breeze in the wind making this beguiling dish. I discovered from my last trip to Malaysia last year that adding some slices of galangal, Lengkuas, adds a subtle dimension to the dish, in addition to the Daun Pandan. I cook my rice in two stages to avoid gumminess in the final product; 3/4 cooked with water and the rest 1/4 with the salted coconut cream. I must say that it came out the best ever in all the years of cooking the dish. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Meli says:

    I was wondering if I can use tamarind paste instead of the juice

  12. Will be in Irvine next week, can you help for me to buy a pandan plant home to S.C. ? Thanks.

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  14. thongweilong says:

    for cooking the rice , how much water do you need to add ? thanks

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  16. says:

    I love your
    cookbook and I love your web page Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift of cooking with us!

  17. zafran says:

    u forgot the beans :)

  18. Daniel says:

    Really good recipe! I, as well, don´t get the redish color for the ikan bilis sambal so I added some red-chilli paste – worked fine and makes it a bit more spicy (nice) Used tamarind paste, diluted in water – works fine. When we ate it in KL mostly served with fried peanuts and ayam instead of fish.

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  20. Phyllis fred says:

    Instead of sambal chilli, can i subtitute that with ayam masak merah but not hot. Nasi lemak ayam masak merah. Becos my daughter is craving for nasi lemak but not spicy. Pregnancy doctor’s order.

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  24. Labanca says:

    Hey your dishes are specifically an asian and indian style of recipes… I like the way you present the recipe…

  25. Suzi S.H.Koh says:

    Living in a rather off-beat town in Italy, Trieste, with only 2 stores catering for Asian ingredients and the better of the 2 is closing down ai the end of this month….. !!! How I envy all of you who live elsewhere…..

    My thanks and compliments to those who made this website possible,for bringing me back all those fond childhood memories of daily food fragrance wafting in the air, as Ah Foon (our amah) struggled to drag us off to the doctor, the dentist whatever….

    None of the Peranakan/Nonya food I try to cook here really measures up to what my memory holds… 70 percent of the spices are substitutes… and the remaining 30 percent is genrally stale… Oh, how I envy all of you……

  26. CTurner says:

    Hi Bee,

    Can you share the brand of dried anchovies you use? I’m in NYC and in the Asian market, I find the variety of brands confusing.

    Thanks very much!


  27. CTurner says:

    Nasi Lemak was my childhood breakfast on my way to school in Singapore. i remember paying just one SGD$1 for a packet of banana-leaf wrapped goodies. I do miss those times when I was just discovering the intriguing and intoxicating flavors and smells of our local cusine. I definitely have to make this to try to recapture a little of that sense of wonder.

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