Tastiest Sambal Fried Rice Recipe

Sambal Fried Rice

The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
509 Calories
22g Fat
55g Carbs
22g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 509
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 215mg 72%
Sodium 1093mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 55g 20%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 6mg 29%
Calcium 84mg 6%
Iron 5mg 30%
Potassium 556mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

First, let's not get lost in translation. Sambal is a generic term for chile-based sauces. Nasi goreng means "fried rice." Literally, there is nothing about nasi goreng that requires it to be spicy. But since nasi goreng is a Malay term, the Malay (and we don't mean Malaysian) style of cooking fried rice has associated nasi goreng with spicy fried rice with bold flavors. In other words, that nasi goreng is spicy is more of a cultural association than a literal definition.

That said, let's proceed to this sambal fried rice recipe. To make the spice base, we combined sambal oelek (available in Asian groceries), crushed galangal (also available in Asian groceries), fresh garlic, onion, makrut lime leaf, and lemongrass. Can you imagine the aroma?

Of course, you can go fresh all the way and use fresh chiles instead of sambal oelek. But because sambal oelek is already a spice blend, chiles alone won't do. You'll have to have a myriad of other spices like cloves, cumin, ginger... As for galangal, even in Southeast Asia, it is not always easy to find. So, you get the idea. The store-bought components of the spice paste are for convenience.

"Fried rice is a classic comfort food staple, and this version elevates it to something far more interesting. A flavorful spice paste of sambal oelek, lemongrass, galangal and makrut lime leaves adds tremendous, citrusy, aromatic flavor and chile heat." —Danielle Centoni

Sambal Fried Rice Tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped galangal

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

  • 1 large makrut lime leaf, sliced into thin strips

  • stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced

  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as peanut or canola

  • 1 cup diced cooked meat of choice

  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 4 cups cold cooked rice, stirred or lightly rubbed to separate the grains

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

  • Salt, to taste

  • Fried eggs and coarsely chopped cilantro, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Sambal Fried Rice ingredients

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  2. Make the sambal. Place the sambal oelek, galangal, garlic, shallots, makrut lime leaf, and lemongrass in in a blender, food processor, or mini food processor and process just until pasty. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle.

    Place the sambal oelek, galangal, garlic, shallots, makrut lime leaf and lemongrass in in a food processor

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  3. Add the oil to a wok or skillet on medium-low heat until it shimmers. Add the sambal mixture and sauté until the solids separate from the oil and the mixture smells lightly toasted and highly aromatic.

    spices in a wok

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  4. Add the meat and carrot. Season with the soy sauce. Stir-fry (very high heat) for about half a minute.

    meat and carrot in a wok with spices

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  5. Add the rice and scallions. Season with salt. Stir-fry until the rice is heated through and the color is even.

    add rice and scallions to the meat and vegetables in the wok

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  6. To serve, ladle some sambal fried rice on a plate, top with a fried egg, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

    Sambal Fried Rice in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of foodborne illness.