My Kinda Comfort Food
As some of you may know, I come from an Indonesian family. I grew up eating Indonesian food almost every single day and it is still one of my favorite comfort foods. The thing about Indonesian food is that it is not necessarily very healthy. Especially when you consider how much peanut sauce my family can eat! (Hint: it’s a lot!).
Indonesian food is so delicious! Literally everyone that I have introduced Indonesian food to has loved it. I have basically converted everyone in my husband’s family to love Indonesian food as much as me. So much so, that every year we have “Indonesian Christmas Eve”. On Christmas Eve, we will cook up a huge spread of our favorite Indonesian dishes. I always cook way too much food so we usually have leftovers for breakfast and lunch on Christmas Day. Family members have been known to sleep on the couch so that they are closest to the fridge to have first dibs on the Indonesian leftovers…
One of my favorite Indonesian dishes is Fried Rice. Indonesian fried rice is a little different than the fried rice you may get at a Chinese restaurant. To season the fried rice, we use Kecap Manis, or Sweet Soy Sauce. Kecap Manis is a soy sauce that has been sweetened with sugar and seasoned with garlic. It adds so much flavor – sweet and salty in one bite! This balanced flavor works well with pretty much any protein or vegetable you want to throw into the fried rice. It’s so versatile that just about anything will taste delicious!
My only issue with Fried Rice is that the rice really makes me feel bloated. I hate feeling like I have to veg out on the couch after eating a meal. It just makes me feel lethargic and gross.
Because of this, I needed to find a way to make a lighter, healthier version of Indonesian Fried Rice. A version that we could enjoy regularly and not feel weighed down or bloated afterwards.
Cue the Quinoa
Quinoa is one of my favorite rice alternatives because it is actually a seed and contains so many essential amino acids as well as protein and fiber. Quinoa is also great for people who are gluten free. The benefits of quinoa are huge: it contains prebiotics, disease fighting antioxidants and the high manganese content may help with bone health and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Making fried rice with quinoa was actually really easy! You can substitute it 1:1 for rice and it holds its shape really well. I did find that it won’t get a crispy exterior like rice would, but it is still delicious.
To amp up the protein content of the dish, I added both chicken and shrimp. You could add one or the other, or even add a different protein like beef, lamb, fish etc. Or you could keep the fried rice meat-free, and just add a bunch of your favorite vegetables. To make the recipe vegan, just remove the eggs from the recipe.
Adding Flavor in a Healthier Way
Instead of Kecap Manis, I used a combination of coconut aminos and agave. Coconut aminos are a mixture of coconut tree sap and organic sea salt. Studies indicate that coconut products can increase HDL or healthy cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, and are high in antioxidants. Coconut aminos are a good alternative to soy sauce if you are concerned about gluten, phytoestrogens (which have been associated with hormonal and fertility issues), GMO ingredients or MSG. To mimic the sweetness found in Kecap Manis, I used raw agave nectar. I particularly like using agave because it mixes in very easily into the quinoa, but you could also use raw honey or stevia. I haven’t tried using these sweeteners in this recipe, but please let me know if you do!
This version of Indonesian Fried Rice is so much lighter than the traditional version. I don’t feel bloated after I eat it but it is still filled with lots of big flavor! Mission accomplished!
I hope you give this recipe a try. Indonesian food is absolutely delicious and I highly recommend finding your local Indonesian restaurant and trying a bunch of different dishes. If you need any help picking dishes just let me know by DM-ing me at @nourish_with_renata on Instagram. Also, let me know if you make this recipe! Take a photo and tag me at @nourish_with_renata and #nourishwithrenata on Instagram! I would love to see what you make!
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 carrots diced
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 cooked chicken breast shredded
- 2 eggs beaten
- 4 cups cooked quinoa
- 8 tbsp coconut aminos
- 4 tbsp raw agave nectar
- Finely sliced green onion sliced kale optional for topping
- Hard boiled eggs Sambal Oelek or a spicy chilli sauce optional for sides
In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on a medium-high heat.
Add in the onions and fry till starting to turn golden brown, stirring frequently.
Add in the carrots, and stir fry for about 5 minutes, till starting to soften.
Place the shrimp in the pan in an even layer. Cook for a 3-5 minutes on one side, then flip over to cook the other side for about 3-5 minutes again.
Add the shredded chicken and egg to the pan. Stir the pan to cook the eggs and warm the chicken.
Add the quinoa, coconut aminos and agave to the pan. Gently toss all together till well combined.
Even out the fried no-rice in the pan to let the bottom fry for 2-5 mins. Make sure the bottom does not burn.
Stir, and add in the sliced kale, if using.
Taste and season as needed.
Garnish with green onions, and serve with hard boiled eggs and a spicy chilli sauce, if desired.