Savoring The Best All Over Town…


Posted by Criz Lai On October - 23 - 2008|

Cooking Nyonya cuisines which are normally spicy, tangy, herbal and aromatic has always required a lot of patience. In fact, the preparation alone for most of the dishes would take up a long time as it involved so much hard work in slicing, cutting and chopping of herbs and ingredients. Some such examples could be seen in dishes like Laksa, Perut Ikan, Acar Awak, Otak Otak and many more. But there is one dish that even some of the established Nyonya restaurants such as Hot Wok did not have it in their menu as it involved a lot of tedious fine slicing of many herbal leaves – SPICY NYONYA NASI ULAM (JUNGLE HERBS RICE)

This dish is definitely a very healthy diet as most of the ingredients are taken raw. My demised grandmother had made this yummy dish all the time, so have my mother some of the time. Before it ended up in my generation that none of us would even remember the existence of this dish, I would like to take some time to prepare this dish and share with you my heirloom recipe. Although I am not the descendants of the Baba-Nyonya, I would love to see someone pick up this recipe and be proud that it has been part of the Malaysian cuisines.


4 plastic cups of rice (about 1kg of cooked rice)
100gms dried shrimps (soak, dice, fry & cool)
100gms salted ikan kurau (treadfin) meat (cut small thin slices, fry and cool)
1 teaspoon belacan (shrimp paste) powder – Maggi
3 tablespoon kerisik (toasted and pounded grated coconut)
1/2” fresh turmeric (chop finely)
10 mint leaves (daun pudina – chop finely)
3 screwpine leaves (daun pandan – knotted)
Salt, sugar and grounded black pepper to taste

6 shallots
1 stalk lemongrass (serai – use the thinner end only)
1/2 stalk torch ginger flower (bunga kantan)
4 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut)
6 polygonum leaves (daun kesom/laksa leaves/Vietnamese mint)
6 asiatica pennywort leaves (daun pegaga)
2 turmeric leaves (daun kunyit)
15 basil leaves (daun selasih)
4 galangal leaves (daun cekur)
10 wild betel leaves (daun kaduk/Piper sarmentosum)

1 cucumber (halves and sliced)
Sambal Belacan (fresh shrimp paste chili sauce)
Some wild betel leaves (optional)
Some mint leaves (optional)


1. Cook rice. When cooked, loosen the rice and fold in the knotted screwpine leaves. Leave aside to be fully cool. Make sure the rice maintain the grain shape but still soft.
2. Find a large container (4 times the amount of the rice would do).
3. Toss evenly all the ingredients in A & B and serve.
4. You can eat it just as it plain or garnish it with the above garnishing with side seafood dishes like Assam Prawns, Assam Fish, Grilled Fish or even some dry meat curries. Sambal Belacan and cucumber is a must if you like the dish spicier.

(Serves: 4-6)



  1. ck lam says:

    This plate of nasi ulam looks delicious and colourful too. I had it once at Nyonya Cafe…the herbs gives a strong and pungent aroma.

  2. ling239 says:

    ulam = jungle herbs ? @_@

  3. email2me says:

    Looks like hakka Lui Cha to me minus the peppermint soup …. hehehehe

  4. Penang Tua Pui says:

    wow.. looks so delicious la…. so colorful also…

  5. CUMI & CIKI says:

    wonderfully authentically malaysian. love it!

  6. allenooi says:

    nice presentation skill. not bad wor….. 🙂

  7. gill gill says:

    wah…thanks for your receipy! wish to try this long time but never have a chance to get the receipy..hee, sure will try this out!

  8. Steven Goh says:

    oh this is the ulam rice that you told me. I never know that I have had this rice before until I see the picture. No wonder people say picture speak thousand words. Is there any place we can have this rice in Penang? Rather than making ourselve?

  9. cariso says:

    When are you going to post up the video clip?! 🙂

  10. Lingzie says:

    i love nasi ulam! and i agree with you, must preserve this recipe before it goes ‘extinct’. thanks for sharing it. will definitely give this a try soon… 🙂

  11. […] Some people might think that Thai food would only be suitable for those with strong stomachs to withstand spiciness and sourness. Well, not all Thai dishes are fiery hot. The restaurant would also prepare some nice set meals daily that would even suit the taste buds of children, nevertheless adults. I for one loved their Thai Chicken Rice (Khao Mun Gai/ข้าวมันไก่ – RM5). The meat was so tender and flavorful. The specially prepared condiment was so tasty that I did ask for more on top of ordering another bowl of rice. Another of their most sought after set meals would be the Braised Pork Leg with Rice (Khao Kha Moo/ข้าวขาหมู – RM5). The one served here was indeed much tastier and meatier than the one I had at Genting Café. Moreover, the price here was also reasonable for that many dishes served. While you are there, don’t miss out their Thai Rice Noodles with Fish Curry Paste aka Laksa (Kha Nom Chin/ขนมจีันน้ำยา – RM3). This dish would be served with sliced raw cucumber and long beans. The noodles were of a thinner version and less al dente than those as in the Penang Nyonya Laksa but the taste was great. Another set meal that has raw vegetables added in would be the Southern Thai Style Rice Salad (Khao Yam/ข้าวยำ – RM5). The ingredients included steamed rice, toasted grated coconut, pomelo, sliced kaffir lime leaves, bean sprouts, winged beans, wild betel nut leaves, long beans, lemongrass stalk and bird’s eye chilies. Just mix everything up and apply some of the provided sauce before consuming. Taste wise, I’m not too fond of this dish as there were just too much raw vegetables in it to flow smoothly though my mouth. I still prefer my Nyonya Nasi Ulam recipe. […]

  12. […] powder, fried salted fish and other raw spices. You can check out more in detail from my Nasi Ulam recipe here. What was served at Nyonya Breeze was nice, considering that it was meant for […]

  13. […] You would also get to savor the super time consuming dish known as the Nasi Ulam (野菜饭食). Sometimes also known as the Jungle Herbs Rice, this dish is definitely a very healthy diet as most of the ingredients are taken raw. This is one of my favorite dishes with the fragrance coming from some added deep fried salted fish and dry shrimps. Though it’s one of the hardest dishes to make, you might want to check out the ingredients in my recipe. […]

Leave a Reply

LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs