Quick Eats: Bali Nasi Lemak

Nestled in a side alley of Geylang is the best nasi lemak I’ve had. I’m not a nasi lemak fan and DC insisted on dragging me out for supper one night just to try this. It was completely worth our while to jump out of the car, grab a quick takeaway and scurry back home to savour. Since it was supper, DC bought just one packet with an incredible number of toppings for $7.50. You can’t even see the rice, it’s piled so high with food. There were two portions of “black” chicken – essentially fried chicken smothered with kicap manis (sweet black sauce). The chicken was somehow still slightly crispy even with the sauce and the black sauce wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet. The sambal petai (stink beans) came with ikan bilis and was deliciously chewy and assertively fishy from the samban and the ikan bilis. The long beans in sambal were good too, the beans were still squeakily crunchy. Now for the star – the nasi lemak and its chilli sauce. The chilli sauce was again stellar because it was flavourful with belachan and not too sweet, as nasi lemak chilli is wont to be. The rice was impossibly fragrant considering it was just coconut milk and pandan added to the rice. Yes, it’s definitely possible to eat it on its own. Five stars for making a nasi lemak convert out of me.

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Bali Nasi Lemak
2 Geylang Lor 15
Singapore 388596
Tel: +65 9069 6881
Open daily from 5.30pm till 4am

Southeast Asian-Style Coca Cola Chicken Noodle Soup

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This is a rather odd-sounding recipe. It’s inspired to some point by the famous Kai Tun Coke in Chiang Mai (even though I haven’t tried the McCoy yet) and from eating my way around Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. I know that most people don’t have a leftover Coke problem when they have guests over, but I do. This recipe used up my leftovers beautifully.

First, simmer the chicken in an infusion of coke, fish sauce and whatever herbs and spices you like. My recipe is a broad indication, use as many or as few of them as you like. Similarly for my soup toppings: I adore the Viet idea of having a whole herb garden to accompany each meal. Diners would then pick and choose from the basket whatever they liked and added the herbs and vegetables according to preference. I tried to replicate some of it here, so please don’t feel like you have to run out to buy every single topping/garnish. If you just want it in its most bare bones form,  try it with just mint, onion and lime.

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Ingredients:
500 ml coke
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 star anise
4 cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 chicken

kway teow noodles
romaine lettuce
onion, sliced thinly
mint leaves
lime wedges

Optional:

cucumber, cored and cut into matchsticks
long bean, cut into short lengths
beansprouts
red chilli, sliced

coriander leaves
thai holy basil
spring onion

Method:

  1. Combine the coke, fish sauce and herbs in a pot and lower in the chicken, breast-side up. The breast should just about be covered by the liquid.
  2. On low heat, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool in its own liquid.
  4. Lift out the chicken carefully and divide into portions ready for serving. Reserve the cooking liquid.

To serve:

  1. Dilute the cooking liquid in an equal amount of water. Bring to a boil and season with fish sauce to taste.
  2. Add the noodles and lettuce. Bring back to the boil.
  3. Divide into bowls, top with the chicken and serve. Diners will add their own garnish according to taste.