Going Easy on Nasi Ulam

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

I have been making Nasi Ulam for sometime now. Some of my earlier posts can be found here

I led a cooking demo recently on how to appreciate and enjoy our local herbs, and I showcased Nasi Ulam. I worked on a minimalist version which is still delicious, proving that "less can be more." Here are my lesson notes. 

Nasi Ulam (light version)

Ulam means herbs in Malay. Traditionally, it was a kampung dish using fresh herbs of nearby plants. If salted fish, meat/fish and sambal belachan were added, it made for a cheap and delicious one plate meal. 

Nasi Ulam has been making a comeback, along with Thunder Tea Rice as healthy alternatives. With the internet recipes, the veil over this mysterious recipe has also been removed. I will share here my simplified version. 

In this demo, I have simplified it to 5 herbs,. with salt and sugar added. 

2 cups of basmati rice
1 Torch Bud Ginger 
Turmeric Leaf 
Laksa Leave 
Daun Limau perut 
Mint leaves
1tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Cooking the Rice

Use a 1:1 rice:water guide. Wash and cook in rice cooker. When cooked, move rice to a large bowl. Gently fluff it up and mix in the salt and sugar. Leave to cool

Preparing the herbs

Pluck leaves, wash and leave it to dry. Using a sharpened knife, diced the herbs finely. Don't grind or blend the herbs. It is possible to diced the herbs in advance, and then bottled and fridge it.  

When rice has cooled, add the diced herbs and mix. Taste and balance the flavors along the way. 

Serve at room temperature (heat denature herbs). Sambal belachan will go well with it. Try to avoid soupy dish as sauces will camouflage your carefully balanced Nasi Ulam. You can squeeze some lime on the rice before it is served. 

To accompany the rice for this demo, I also made a simple version of Sambal Udang. I will blog this recipe soon. 

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  1. Thanks for sharing. I will try even though I still think some form of salted fish is a must:)