What Is Nasi Dagang?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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Nasi Dagang is a dish associated with the Malaysian or Southern Thai region that features rice with other ingredients piled on top or mixed in. The rice dish often features curry or spicy local flavors. Seafood such as fish is another common addition to this dish, and many recipes also involve whole boiled eggs.

The most common forms of nasi dagang involve fish, for example, tuna, although other meats can be added. Typically, the dish also includes various local spices. One of these is fenugreek, which combines with coconut oil or milk for a specific flavor. Cooks also include spices like lemongrass, turmeric, and galangal for more flavor in the dish.

Another common addition to nasi dagang is pickled vegetables. A variety of pickled vegetables add bright color to the dish. Many of these are only slightly cooked, or just pickled in vinegar, which adds the conventional bitter taste to the dish.

In many recipes for nasi dagang, the cooks top steamed rice with the fish or meat pieces, infused with the herbs and spices. In some cases, all of the ingredients are mixed well together. Some nasi dagang dishes also have other specific presentations, for example, serving the steamed rice and chunks of fish on a banana leaf.


The rice used in this dish is often of the long grain variety. Another common type of rice for this dish is a local form that many call “Thai glutinous rice.” This rice breaks down in a way that makes it very appealing to many who are fond of dishes like nasi dagang.

In addition to all of the above, cooks can add shallots to the dish for texture and flavor. Ginger root is another common addition, where this root element is often finely shredded or diced. Butter or oil elements might also add to this dish.

Although the preparation time for nasi dagang is not usually extremely long, those who soak the rice before steaming may soak it for several hours. After the rice is properly prepared, it shouldn’t take too long to prepare the rest of the dish. Simmering the spices and sauce ingredients allows the flavor to work its way into the other elements of the dish, for example, the boiled egg, the rice and the fish.


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