Nasi Lemak is a rice dish which is considered the national dish of Malaysia. The name Nasi Lemak means ‘oily rice’ and the main component of the dish is rice which has been soaked in coconut cream and then steamed, and served with a number of accompaniments and these accompaniments which vary from region to region, and from country to country with distinctive Singaporean, Indonesian and Thai versions of Nasi Lemak eaten in those countries.
In Malaysia Nasi Lemak is considered a breakfast dish. At its most basic the coconut rice is typically accompanied by sambal, deep fired anchovies, peanuts and boiled egg. Sambal is a hot sauce made with chilli peppers, fish sauce, garlic, shrimp paste, onion, sugar and vinegar in varying quantities depending on the region and the person cooking it. Often this basic list of Nasi Lemak ingredients is accompanied by spicy fried chicken, or a chicken or fish curry to make a more substantial meal. In Indonesia the accompaniment to the rice and sambal is often seafood or fresh water fish. In Singapore the dish is normally less spicy than the Malay version, with less chilli pepper in the Sambal and a less spicy accompaniment such as a fried chicken wing or breaded chicken steak. The recipe is different again in Southern Thailand with flavours of Thai cuisine, such as tom yam soup, added to the basic Nasi Lemak dish.