A Perfect Make-Ahead Meal

This delicious, nutritious Indonesian classic can be prepared before long passages and refrigerated. Simply reheat when hunger strikes.

April 26, 2011
Fried rice
Nasi Goreng (Spicy Fried Rice) Lynda Morris Childress

On the first cruise that my husband, Hans, and I took 20 years ago, I never bothered to prepare meals in advance before a long passage. In very bad weather, Hans and I ate canned meals; otherwise, I cooked every day. It was sometimes a challenge to chase onions around the galley or keep other ingredients in place or in the pot while sailing, especially when we were heeled. Today, I’m older and perhaps not as ambitious. Maybe age has given me wisdom (along with a few gray hairs). Now, before a long passage on Tauhara, our Van de Stadt 46, one of the meals I make before we depart is a traditional Indonesian dish called nasi goreng. It stores well in the fridge, is easy to heat up while sailing, and it’s a nutritious, complete meal.

The Chinese variation of nasi goreng is known by most people as “fried rice,” but the Indonesian version is spicier and tastier. The main ingredient is, of course, cooked rice that’s been well dried out in the fridge or spread out on a large platter to air dry in a drafty environment (such as on a counter under an open hatch). The rice should be loose and dry. If it sticks together, your nasi will be soggy.

You can use vegetables other than those listed in the recipe, such as cabbage, green onions, peas, or spinach, but don’t use red bell peppers; their flavor doesn’t complement this dish. In addition to being a perfect pre-made meal, nasi goreng is also a good way to rid the fridge of leftovers!


Although we carry a wide variety of spices aboard Tauhara, getting fresh greens and meat in the tropics can sometimes be a problem. Even if you have only carrots, onions, garlic, and eggs, you can still make a tasty vegetarian version of this dish. You may substitute other meats, including chicken, beef, and pork, even when they’re canned. Canned ham is also an option, but not canned corned beef.

Nasi Goreng (Spicy Fried Rice)

  • 4 tablespoons soy or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili paste
  • 5 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground lemongrass (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound frozen shrimp, thawed in the bag
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
  • 4 celery stalks with leaves, julienned
  • 4 tablespoons soy or vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 cups cooked, loosened dry rice
  • 1/2 pound ham, cubed
  • 1 leek, sliced into narrow rings
  • Bananas, gherkins, or cucumber for garnish

Ready a large wok or deep, wide frying pan. Following the list in order, add everything to the pan from oil to salt and slowly sauté over medium heat. When liquid becomes a paste, add the shrimp with fluid and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery, adding a little water if pan is too dry. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, place contents in a bowl, and wipe pan with a paper towel. Add remaining oil to pan and place over high heat. When oil is hot, break the eggs into the pan and stir until scrambled. Add all the loose rice at once and stir until dry and very hot. Add the reserved bowl of spice paste, veggies, and shrimp to the rice. Continue stirring until well mixed. Add cubed ham and sliced leek. Stir-fry until very hot. Serve immediately with sliced cucumber or gherkins and sliced bananas as an edible garnish. Serves four.


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