I had a first taste of nasi tim when I was traveling to Semarang for the first time with my parents. I was severely ill at that time due to bacterial infection in my gastrointestinal tract. I have lived in the Netherlands for quite a while and I haven’t visited Indonesia that often ever since. Hence, I always get stomach problem every single time I come back as my tummy is not used to Indonesian hygiene anymore. It really sucks when you love food so much, especially spicy food. When that happens, I usually just eat bland food like porridge or bouillon.
I remember waking up with a severe stomachache in my hotel room on the first day of our travel, and for the next few days I could only watched my parents and sister ate good food while I was resorting to bland soup and water. I couldn’t take it anymore on the third day, and I was thinking hard to get a proper meal that does not hurt my tummy – mind you, Indonesian food is generally spicy and hot, which is not good for somebody with a stomachache like me.
That’s when I found nasi tim.
What is nasi tim?
In Indonesian, nasi means cooked rice and tim means steamed. Chicken meat and rice that is cooked with broth and seasoning are stuffed inside a small bowl and steamed for a long time. It is a perfect blend of the succulence of the meat, the fluffiness of the rice, and the rich flavor of the seasoning. Nasi tim is usually served with a bowl of clear broth on the side.
As it is always left in the steamer and only taken out when being served, nasi tim is always warm. Because of this, it is considered comfort food for many Chinese Indonesian people. Furthermore, as it is easy to digest, it is also popular among kids, old people, as well as ill people.
I was easily categorized as “ill people” that day😂.
How to make nasi tim?
I cannot deny that nasi tim is a laborious food to make. It took me half the day to complete the process – from the preparation until the end. With that being said, it will yield quite a lot of portions (depending on how big your rice bowl is, mine is quite big). You can easily store them in the fridge and heat it up every time you are hungry, and they are still really good!
To make nasi tim, you want to make sure you have several rice bowls. If you don’t, you can also use a big bowl. But in this case, you may need to divide it into several portions later on. Beside that, you also need a steamer. I have a big steamer which can easily fit 6-7 rice bowls. If you have a small steamer, you need to steam the rice in several batches.
For the meat, chicken is the most common so that everybody including Muslim people can eat. But, in some really traditional Chinese Indonesian restaurants, they use pork. I used both pork and chicken, but it is entirely up to you if you want to do the same combination or go for 100% chicken/ pork. If you are vegetarian, you can even substitute the meat with mushrooms or vegetarian meat. In that case, use also mushroom or vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.
I ate nasi tim with pickled cucumber, shallots, and green chilies. The shallots and chilies soaked up the vinegar and they taste tangy and crunchy.
This food is so hearty and comforting. I do not regret spending hours in the kitchen making it. I hope you give it a try and let me know how you like it!
- 6 rice bowls
- 1 whole chicken, deboned and minced (600 grams), save the bones for broth
- 2 l water
- 150 g minced pork (or substitute with golden straw mushrooms)
- 4 tbs oil
- 1 tbs sugar
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 250 ml rice bowls (or more, depending on how big your rice bowl is)
Marinade for the meat:
- 1/2 tbs dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tbs light soy sauce
- 1/2 tbs oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tbs Shaoxing rice wine
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tbs corn flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 tbs oil
- 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 750 g rice, soaked for 2 hours
- 2 tbs light soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- Egg yolks from pasteurized eggs (optional)
- Coriander leaves
- Pickled cucumber with shallots and green chilies
- Chopped spring onion
- Fried garlic/shallots
- Mix the pork and chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Make broth by boiling water and chicken bones for 1 hour and let it sit.
- Heat oil in a wok under high heat and add sugar. Stir fry for about 2 minutes until it caramelizes. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add pork and chicken and cook for 10 minutes while keep stirring and chopping the meat with the spatula.
- Now, prepare the rice. In another wok or pan, heat oil on high heat and stir fry garlic.
- Add rice, soy sauce, and salt and stir for about 5 minutes.
- Take a bowl and add a few tablespoons of meat. Top with rice until 3/4 full. Add chicken broth until full. Continue with other bowls until all the ingredients are done.
- Steam for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and flip on a plate. If you want to add egg yolk, make an indentation with the back of the spoon on top of the rice. Place a yolk on top of it. Garnish with pickles, spring onion, fried garlic/shallots and coriander leaves.