Every Malaysian has their favourite Nasi Lemak. From the one they reminisce about having in school and stopping on the way to work to the one they eat for brunch or supper just to indulge because it is eponymously a rich meal.
It brings all the senses into play immediately – from the moment the eyes see the dish in its deconstructed beginning or in a banana leaf packet or when the nose detects a whiff of the coconut rice.
Next is the alchemy through the act of combining the spiciness and sweetness of the sambal with that of the ikan bilis, alternating with the half a hard-boiled egg to go with just the right amount of rice for the perfect balance.
What defines the experience is how the personality of the sambal complements the rice as bears its own nuances – sweet or spicy, just sweet or just spicy, with the shrimp paste and onions adding umami. No two are ever alike but the best is the one you first had as a child and will never forget.
But every dish or condiment is there only as a hand maiden to the rice which has been cooked in coconut milk that brings a richness and fragrance that can send aficionados off on a late-night excursion to satisfy their cravings like a pregnant woman.
So, what does one do to take this loved dish to the next level?
Chef Mohammad Fauzey Hassan of Nasi Lemak Kukus Fauzey fries it to the level of decadence where his sinfully delicious creation makes your fat cells beg for escape.
It all started one fateful night when a customer requested he fry the nasi lemak. He began tweaking his recipe until he found the perfect balance of ingredients.
At his food truck, lit by street lamps and a generator, he wields his wok and ladle over a blazing fire with the skill and ease of a sifu to maintain a combination of heat control with wok hei to impart the smokiness into his creation.
Despite his deft handling of the wok, Chef Fauzey was formerly a western cuisine chef with some five-star hotels for a decade.
He got bored working in hotels and prefers his life now where he makes his nasi lemak goreng from a food truck in PJ Old Town. He gets tremendous satisfaction from seeing customers enjoy his food.
He fries the rice, which has been steaming for an hour, in small batches so that that the steam does not affect the texture to ensure freshness and the correct temperature for serving.
When the wok is hot enough, the rice is added with some oil that had earlier been used to fry the chicken which had been marinating for a few hours in his blend of 13 spices.
He then adds his homemade paste, revealing only that it contains belacan, and begins tossing it to ensure that it is evenly infused with the right amount of char.
When it’s ready, the rice is plated and served with a piquant, sweetish sambal along with freshly fried chicken, a large prawn and thick strips of cucumber, garnished with crispy bits of the marinade from the fried chicken which some consider to be the best part. At less than RM10, it is a deliciously satisfying indulgence that utterly disrespects your diet.
“I want to make sure that customers get a satisfying meal that is value for their money,” says Chef Fauzey.
Whether it is the regular nasi lemak or fried, Che Fauzey is very particular about the sambal which he will only say contains ikan bilis. It is prepared fresh every morning to give the ingredients time to combine.
“Anyone can cook the rice, but it is the sambal that makes it special.”
His unassuming food truck can easily be found using mobile phone maps. It is open Mondays to Saturday from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. or sometimes 10 p.m. because the rice is so good that it runs out earlier.