Nasi means cooked rice, and kerabu means vegetable mixture, so this dish means herbed rice salad. It’s very good, and would make a nice dish for a potluck or a picnic. We find the original version a little dry, so we’ve added 4 Tbsp. of vegetable oil to keep the salad nice and moist. You want to serve this at room temperature, so make sure that you leave enough time for the rice, coconut, and fish to cool down completely before mixing everything together.
We should admit that this is a Westernized version of the herb mixture. The herbs that we use are crazy and probably not available in the US. They included long-stemmed mint (daun kesum), Asian pennywort (daun pegaga), aromatic ginger leaf (daun cekur), and wild pepper leaf (daun keduk).
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1/2 cup dried fish (ikan bilis)
3 cups cooked rice
1 stalk of lemongrass, very thinly sliced
1 torch ginger bud, very thinly sliced (optional)
1 shallots, very thinly sliced
1 inch ginger, very thinly sliced
1/2 inch galangal, very thinly sliced
1/2 inch fresh turmeric, very thinly sliced, or 1 tsp. ground
1 bunch of celery leaves
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch of watercress
10 kaffir lime leaves
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus 2 Tbsp. more for frying
salt and black pepper to taste
Heat a large pan over very low heat. Add the coconut and toast it, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes. It will turn golden brown and dry out. Let cool, and then grind it to the texture of fine breadcrumbs in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle.
Heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in the wok, and add the dried fish. Fry, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool, and then cut into small pieces.
Pick the leaves from the stems of the herbs. Roll up the leaves into little bunches, with the lime leaves on the outside. Chop very finely, creating very thin julienned herb strips.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Toss with the vegetable oil, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.