tofu nasi goreng

Don’t miss the pickles and the shrimp crackers, please. I fried a few but they vanished before we started eating, so try to save a few pieces for the actual meal!

I am not Indonesian, nor have I ever lived in Indonesia, but both my husband and I have visited there often enough to know that this recipe gets a thumbs-up. We think I’ve recreated this classic Indonesian dish as authentically as possible using non-Indonesian products.

Nasi goreng is commonly served with meat satay, but I have swapped in tofu cubes without skewers. (Since I’m too lazy and don’t have wooden skewers on hand.)

I’ve made a few attempts at this dish and discovered a few important notes that you should heed. Otherwise, you will not get an authentic taste.

First, use a mortar and pestle for the fried rice paste. Using a food processor will not bring out the flavours of the ingredients.

Shrimp paste is important, but if you want to make this vegan/vegetarian, you could sub with 2 pieces of soaked dried shiitake mushroom, finely chopped. Still, the shrimp paste is the key to bringing out the umami flavour of the rice.

Use dark soy sauce to give the rice colour and add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the saltiness from the shrimp paste.

I have added extra dried shrimp to the fried rice, which definitely adds extra flavor and texture, but this is optional. If you do not have any on hand, don’t worry about it. Taste the version with shrimp paste alone and see how you like it, then decide if you want to invest and get a package for later. 

I have also tried it with Thai dried shrimp, which are shelled and more meaty and salty. Taiwanese “sakura” dried shrimps, which are super tiny and have edible shell in them, are another option, though they are so small that there isn’t much meat in them. They’re usually used as a garnish, but they give a really nice crunch to the rice, which I loved! They are also less fishy.

Don’t miss the pickles and the shrimp crackers, please. I fried a few but they vanished before we started eating, so try to save a few pieces for the actual meal!

Serves 2


For fried rice

2 cups leftover cooked white rice

2 tbsp dried shrimps

1 tsp shrimp paste

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1/2 hot red chili, roughly chopped

2 small or 1 large shallots or 1/4 red onion, roughly chopped

3 small cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped

200 g firm tofu

Curry powder

For peanut sauce

2 tbsp smooth natural peanut butter

1 tbsp tahini

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

1-2 tsp sugar

1-2 tbsp Ayam Sambal chili sauce

1/4 – 1/3 cup water 

To serve

Pickled cucumber (find my quick pickled cucumber recipe HERE)

Fried egg (find my perfect fried egg tips HERE)

Shrimp crackers

Special equipment: Mortar and pestle 

Recipe Preparation

Chili paste for rice

Combine chili, shallots, garlic and shrimp paste in mortar and pound ingredients together with a pestle until they form a rough paste. The end result should be like a thin porridge consistency. Set aside.

Peanut sauce

In a small saucepan, mix together ingredients, stirring constantly until sauce is heated all over but not boiling. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.


Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes, about 1″. Mix curry powder and a pinch of salt with a teaspoon of oil in a small bowl. Heat a shallow frying pan and fry tofu on medium high heat until all sides are golden brown. Keep warm and set aside for serving.

Fried rice

Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok on medium high heat, whirling it around to coat wok with oil. Put all the chili paste into the wok and stir continuously, frying until fragrant (about 1 minute; watch out for splash). Add leftover rice and mix until well combined. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. 

Assembly of dish

Using a small soup bowl and a rice spatula, tightly pack chili rice into bowl up to the edge. Place a serving plate directly on top of the rice bowl and flip plate upside down. Tap bowl base gently to remove rice onto serving plate, giving you a perfectly round pile. Place tofu and shrimp crackers alongside rice and serve with warm peanut sauce.

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