Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is considered the national dish of Malaysia, enjoyed by people of all races. Traditionally, this comes as a platter of food wrapped in banana leaves, steamed coconut milk rice with cucumber slices, hard-boiled egg, fried crispy little anchovies (ikan bills), roasted peanuts, onion-anchovies-sambal at its core. As a more substantial meal, nasi lemak can also come with other accompaniments, mostly spicy, such as fried chicken, fried eggs, cuttlefish, cockles, beef/chicken rendang (beef or chicken pieces stewed in coconut milk).

Nasi Lemak is an all-time favourite of all Malaysians. It is one of my fave food too. It can be taken as breakfast, lunch, dinner or even supper. First off, I must qualify that I am a food lover but not a food critic. Then, you wonder why do I write about Nasi Lemak today?

Well, it’s the after-effect of watching a local production movie called “NASI LEMAK 2.0“. The movie is about the journey of this chef and his companion in search of the right people to teach him ways to cook the mouth-watering food. He met with a couple – Baba and Nyonya (from personal experience, Nyonya cooks real mean Sambal), an Indian man who is most knowledgeable in spices, and a Malay family (I think, they must be the ones who put everything together to complete the special meal).

What I personally learnt from this movie comes from the process of preparing the meal. I’m talking about the rice and accompaniments:

# crispy anchovies – method of frying is important to keep it crispy at all times. Keep watch of the heat.

# roasted peanut – not in the oven, mind you. I was told by a Chinese chef that her fragrant peanuts have to be stir-fried in a clean wok over low fire. Again, it’s chef’s secret as different chefs produced different result.

# Sambal – I can see sliced onions and anchovies in the sweet and spicy gravy. This is the determinant factor to the whole Nasi Lemak. If the Sambal is good, so will be the packet of Nasi Lemak.

# Rice – steamed rice with coconut milk which draws fragrance from the screw pine leaves (daun pandan). There must be the right amount of coconut milk to ensure that the rice is not too dry or soft. I noticed some chefs included stalks of lemon grass or slices of ginger to localise the food.

As you can see, every condiments are skilfully prepared with great care and attention. Nasi Lemak is like, us as a family, people to a country, a team of workers, anyone and everyone. Each person’s role is important whereby, one cannot do without the other. When all play their roles well, the end result will be…..none other than, perfect!

If all this while you have been wondering what is missing in your life or you feel emptiness in certain part of your life, “unwrap the pack” to see what is actually missing.

Take for example a basic Nasi Lemak meal consisting of the fragrant rice, crunchy peanuts and crispy anchovies, hard-boiled egg, slices of cucumber and Sambal. It is not a complete packet if one of these ingredients is missing.

Same goes to your life/career….what makes it complete, ask yourself. Now that you have identified all accompaniments of your life, pay more attention to any missing links(s). Think of what you can do to fill in the gap. If you do not know how to achieve that, seek out someone who does. It may not necessarily come as a whole. In parts are just as well. Because, at the end, it will be you who is going to pack it all together as one.

Yeah, life is like Nasi Lemak. So tasty but spicy too! Now, all this writing about Nasi Lemak, makes me crave for one. Gotta go for my Nasi Lemak break! Yummy….

~ Alice N.

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