About twice a week I get that dreaded ‘I don’t feel like cooking dinner’ feeling. When I was working full time, this seemed to me like a fairly reasonable feeling and was probably based on tiredness from the day as well as a touch of laziness. If I get the feeling now it’s still sometimes based on laziness (not going to lie) but it can also be about not knowing what to cook.
If I don’t know what to cook, or have no inspiration, then I lose all passion and desire to cook. I’m pretty used to the supermarkets here now but I still also find it frustrating when I can’t find something I want. Like sausages with no MSG in them or just some simple boneless chicken thighs. Boneless chicken thighs are not impossible to get in Singapore, but they require more effort and forethought than what I am used to. Not having simple things that I’m used to also sometimes leads to me not feeling like making dinner.
Luckily Key is a great cook and we often cook dinner together (which I absolutely love doing) and other times he will cook it himself. We also live in a country that home delivers just about any food you want, including the evil temptation of a certain golden arched establishment. There are also great quality restaurants and hawker centres everywhere. But I don’t want to eat home delivered food too often and I love eating out but also don’t want to do this all the time either. I love cooking but I just don’t always feel like cooking.
So where do I get that inspiration that I am sometimes lacking? Well I get my food inspiration from a lot of places. I read A LOT of food blogs and food magazines. I also own probably over 300 cook books (my favourites I have here with me.) I keep lists of things that I want to try and make (nerd alert) or dishes that I want to recreate. If I find something on a blog, I save the URL and make sure I follow the blog to catch other goodies from them also. I also bookmark my cook books with those little sticky tabs you can get. You can easily tell my favourite cook books from looking at the edge and seeing how many tabs are sticking out.
Being in Singapore itself has also given me a lot of inspiration. I’m exposed to an entirely different food culture here and while that itself can be frustrating sometimes I also find it super inspiring.I’ve been making this nasi goreng for years now and I still have the torn out magazine page of the original recipe that I base my version on. Mum also makes it a fair bit, so much so, that my brother jokingly renamed it Nasty Boring while he was still living at home. I assure you, this is neither nasty, nor boring and I’ve seen my brother scoff bowls of it to attest to that.
Nasi goreng or fried rice is always best when made with rice that has been cooked the day before and left to dry out in the fridge overnight in a closed container. Make extra rice for nasi goreng when making another dinner with rice, or just quickly cook some rice the night before via the absorption method or in a rice cooker. Approximately ½ a cup of uncooked rice will yield the 3 cups of cooked that you need for this.
Belacan (yellow packaged block at the right) smells gross, no denying it. The day I made this, Key came home half way through and straight away knew that I had been using it. It does end up adding an excellent overall flavour. I have a little block that I seal in a freezer bag and freeze. Then I just shave off what I need while it’s still frozen. That small amount will defrost quickly.
Sambal Ikan Bilis (second jar from the right) is a pre made sauce with chillies (the sambal) and ground, dried anchovies. (the ikan bilis) If you can’t find this, just use sambal oelek for the chilli kick.
Lap cheong is a fatty, sweet and spiced dried Chinese sausage. It’s easily found in the Asian section of major supermarkets in Australia. You normally get a few in a packet but I rarely use them all at once so I just freeze the leftovers. They keep really well in the freezer and cook up fine after defrosted. If you don’t want to use it, add in some ham or bacon instead for that extra layer of flavour.
As with all stir frying, it helps to prepare all of the ingredients first and to put them near the stove top.
I was running out of fried shallots so I picked up some more. This is the smallest container I could get…only in Asia!
I made this before we got our wok. If you have a wok, use it for this. It’s not impossible to do in a large frying pan, but stirring it all together in a wok will be so much easier.
Ingredients – Serves 3
- 5 spring onions, both white and green parts sliced
- 1 tsp kecap manis
- 3 tbs sweet chilli sauce
- 2 tbs light soy sauce
- ½ tsp sambal ikan bilis or sambal oelek (chilli paste) as an alternative
- 1 tsp crumbled belacan from a block or jar of shrimp paste
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 200g chicken mince
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 lap cheong (Chinese dried sausage) sliced into discs
- 3 cups of cooked, cold rice
- ½ red capsicum, seeds and ribs removed and diced
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
- 1/3 cup finely chopped broccoli (florets and stems)
- store bought fried shallots for garnish
- Prepare all of the chopped ingredients first. Put aside some of the green parts of the chopped spring onions for garnish.
- Make the nasi goreng sauce by mixing all of the sauces with the belacan or paste and the pepper. If using belacan, press it into the sauce with a fork or spoon to break it up.
- Heat a large frying pan or wok over a medium to high heat and lightly brown the chicken mince in a neutral oil. Once fully cooked, remove to a bowl and set aside.
- On the same heat, add a little more neutral oil and quickly cook the egg in a flat, thin omelette. Once just cooked, remove to a plate and cut it into thin strips.
- Now add the lap cheong and fry till it’s starting to crisp up.
- Without removing the lap cheong, add back the mince and chopped omelette with the cooked rice, sauce mix and all of the vegetables.
- Stir fry for approximately 2 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked and everything is hot.
- Serve in bowls, sprinkled with the fried shallots and the spring onions that you set aside. This is a meal in itself, but I love serving this with some shop bought spring rolls.