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Nasi Lemak Kukus
Steamed Rice with Coconut Milk

Rice steamed with coconut milk may sound alien to you. However, if anyone mentioned nasi lemak kukus, I am sure you would go "Aha!".

Nasi Lemak as it is sold on the streets of Penang and further in Malaysia
Nasi Lemak as it is sold on the streets of Penang and further in Malaysia

Besides the typical nasi lemak being prepared in the saucepan or automatic rice cooker, this is another variant, using the steamer. It is supposed to be more delicious because the rice does not turn clumpy and there is also no possibility for it to burn while cooking. Each grain is separated and fluffy, if freshly squeezed coconut milk is used, you get triple A grade nasi lemak. Trust me.

The ingredients are about the same but it is more time consuming in the sense that the rice has to be soaked overnight. Also, cooking using a steamer takes longer than cooking with the saucepan or automatic rice cooker. As with all good food, the taste would be more delicious if all ingredients used are fresh.

preparing nasi lemak kukus
Preparing nasi lemak kukus

I know several stalls that specializes in this kind of nasi lemak. The price is a bit costly but you would always get steaming hot rice. It is expected because pre-packed nasi lemak is usually already cold when you eat them.

Nasi Lemak

As for the sambal that goes with it, only the creativity of the cook limits it. Some people love it with rendang or crunchy spicy fried chicken. Anyway, normal sambal ikan bilis would do just as well. Throw in some freshly sliced cucumber, a spoonful of fried peanuts, fried ikan bilis and a hard boiled egg, it is a perfect Malaysian breakfast.

There are also stalls that make mean crispy, spicy fried chicken to go with this nasi lemak. I tell you, usually, the good ones would be sold out by 9a.m!

Oh yes, to make the experience more memorable, do not forget to serve the nasi lemak on a plate lined with banana leaf. The aroma is a treat to the senses. Forget about your diet this time. Tuck in and simply enjoy the meal.


So, for you the adventurous cook, here is the recipe for nasi lemak kukus. (Steamed rice with coconut milk).

  • 1 cup rice, wash and soaked overnight then drain the water.
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 pandanus leaf (knotted)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (fresh is preferable)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 inch ginger, sliced thinly


  • Boil enough water in the steamer, normally you fill half of the bottom pan with water.
  • Place the rice in a dish
  • Pour in coconut milk into the dish, together with the rest of the ingredient
  • Steam until the coconut milk is absorbed by the rice (about 20-30 minutes).
  • Fork the rice once in a while when it is cooking.
  • Serve with your preferred sambal

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