Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Nasi goreng, Indonesia's version of fried rice, gets a sweet-savory profile from kecap manis and a big hit of umami from shrimp paste.

A plate of rice topped with a fried egg on a plate, garnished with cucumber and tomato slices, and showered with fried shallots. There is another plate to the right periphery of the image, as well as several glasses of liquid in the shot.

Serious Eats / Qi Ai

Why This Recipe Works

  • Using either freshly cooked or day-old rice results in fried rice that separates nicely into individual grains, without clumping up.
  • Indonesian shrimp paste adds a potent dose of umami.
  • The sweetness of kecap manis balances out the dish's many salty and savory elements.

Nasi goreng is essentially Indonesia's take on fried rice. In addition to kecap manis, the country's ubiquitous sweet soy sauce, terasi (Indonesian shrimp paste) is what sets nasi goreng apart from other fried-rice variations you'll see in other countries.

Terasi is an umami bomb that pervades both your kitchen and your senses. If you can't find it easily, feel free to substitute another Southeast Asian shrimp paste, or omit it—you’ll be making what my mom calls nasi goreng cina, or Chinese fried rice, which is the version she made for us when I was growing up.


Click Play to Learn How to Make Nasi Goreng

June 2019

Recipe Details

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Prep 5 mins
Cook 15 mins
Active 20 mins
Total 20 mins
Serves 2 servings

Nasi goreng, Indonesia's version of fried rice, gets a sweet-savory profile from kecap manis and a big hit of umami from shrimp paste.


For the Spice Paste:

  • 2 small shallots (2 ounces; 55g), roughly chopped

  • 3 medium cloves garlic

  • 1 large fresh green chile, such as Fresno or Holland, stemmed and seeded, or 1 teaspoon sambal oelek, such as Huy Fong (see note)

  • 1/2 teaspoon terasi (Indonesian shrimp paste), optional (see note)

For the Nasi Goreng:

  • 4 cups cold cooked jasmine rice (21 ounces; 600g) or other medium- to long-grain rice (see note)

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) neutral oil, such as canola or sunflower oil

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) kecap manis (see note), plus more for drizzling

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) soy sauce

  • Kosher salt

  • Ground white pepper

To Serve:


  1. For the Spice Paste: Add half the shallots to a mortar and grind with pestle until a coarse purée forms. Add remaining shallots, followed by garlic, chile, and terasi (if using), grinding with pestle until each ingredient is mostly incorporated before adding the next. The final paste should resemble thick oatmeal in texture. Alternatively, combine all spice paste ingredients in a small food processor and process until they form a paste.

    A two-image collage. The top image shows the shallots pounded to a paste inside of the mortar and pestle, with garlic, jalapeños, and and terasi in small bowls alongside. The bottom image shows the paste with the ingredients fully pound together.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai

  2. For the Nasi Goreng: If using day-old rice, transfer rice to a bowl and break rice up with your hands into individual grains.

    A two-image collage. The top image shows a pair of hands breaking up day-old rice in a metal bowl. The bottom image shows the bowl full of the broken up rice.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai

  3. Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add spice paste and cook, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of wok or pan to prevent paste from burning, until a pungent smell permeates your kitchen and paste turns a few shades darker, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium at any time if paste appears to be browning too quickly.

    A two-image collage. The top image shows a seasoned carbon steel wok holding shimmering oil and the spice paste. The bottom image shows the spice paste being fried in the oil and moved with a wooden spatula.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai

  4. Add rice to wok and stir to coat with spice paste. Add kecap manis and soy sauce. Stir and cook until rice is evenly colored and hot throughout. Season with salt and white pepper.

    A two-image collage. The top image shows the rice added to the pan and incorporated with the cooked spice paste. There is a wooden spatula in the pan. The bottom image shows the rice and the wooden spatula, now darkened after the addition of kecap manis and soy sauce.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai

  5. Divide rice between two plates and top each plate of rice with a fried egg. Garnish with cucumber and tomato slices and shower with fried shallots, if you like. Serve immediately with kecap manis alongside for drizzling.

    Two plates side by side, each containing a serving of fried rice which is topped with a sunny-side up fried egg. There is a wooden spatula over the right plate, depositing the egg on the rice.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai

Special Equipment

Mortar and pestle, large wok or skillet


Terasi is an Indonesian shrimp paste that can be found in well-stocked Asian markets or online. We recommend purchasing handy single-serving packets. If you can't find terasi, you may substitute belacan (Malaysian or Singaporean shrimp paste) or Thai shrimp paste, or simply omit it altogether.

Sambal oelek is an Indonesian chile paste, traditionally made with nothing more than hot red chiles and salt. You can find it at Asian markets or in the "international" aisle of some supermarkets.

Kecap manis is Indonesian sweet soy sauce, typically made by combining soy sauce with palm sugar. We recommend Cap Bango kecap manis, but you may also find ABC and Conimex brands available online or in Asian markets. For more information, read our kecap manis explainer.

For best results, use rice that has been refrigerated for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. If using freshly cooked rice, spread rice on a tray and allow to cool for 5 minutes before using.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
692 Calories
22g Fat
105g Carbs
17g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 692
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 184mg 61%
Sodium 1212mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 105g 38%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 58mg 291%
Calcium 93mg 7%
Iron 6mg 31%
Potassium 455mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)