Oh, geez. Did the producers of Australian cooking show Good Chef Bad Chef not bother to Google what they were cooking that day? Or were they just pleased to take what looks like sponsor money from Ayam branded foods, whose goods made an appearance at several stages of the recipe, that they phoned in the rest?
Hard to tell, but host Adrian Richardson’s bastardization of Malaysia’s national dish, nasi lemak was enough to spark an online furor that eventually led to whoever manages the program’s Facebook page to take that trash down.
Where did it all go wrong? Well, quite simply put — at no point in the recipe did anything follow the steps or resemble anything like any iteration of nasi lemak anyone in Malaysia had ever seen.
Breakdown for the uninitiated: Nasi lemak (fatty rice) is a breakfast dish that can also be enjoyed at other times of the day that consists of rice boiled in coconut milk, flavored with pandan, and perhaps an embellishment of lemongrass if you’re so inclined (we’re not). There are regional and chef variations, but the most important and fundamental component of this dish is the fact the rice is boiled in coconut milk, and served fresh.
Alright, on the side comes tiny fried anchovies, cucumber, peanuts, sambal (the spicier the better!), and often an egg. If you a fancy pants, maybe you get some chicken curry or rendang on the side with it.
Still with me?
Great — now let’s break down Adrian’s version.
First of all he starts with some nice, fatty back bacon, for flavor. We’re not sure where this is going, but he made mention that it wasn’t a “traditional” Malaysian flavor in the dish. No Adrian, it’s not. Most Malaysians are Muslim, and many don’t eat pork. Nasi lemak is actually the great unifier in our multi-cultural nation, and something we joke among ourselves that we can all enjoy and agree upon. You may have missed that nuance, buddy.
Moving on. He instructs home cooks to then start chopping vegetables — like lots of them. There’s onion, garlic, ginger, some snow peas, red pepper, and chili. All of it goes into the frying pan with the pork. Confused? So were we.
Wait though, he has the rice ready and informs viewers that it’s just old rice, “from a takeaway you put in the fridge.”
The blasphemy right here, people. Desperately searching for a meme to express our emotions … Oh yes, here it is:
Rubbing salt into our wounds, he adds curry powder and a little Ayam brand sauce called “nasi goreng paste,” aka fried rice mixer, to add to his fried rice, because that is what this is — another fried rice recipe that no one asked for.
Finishing off, he mixed scrambled eggs into the frying pan, which on a regular day would bum us out since we appreciate a soft yolk, but today Satan, we’ll let you have it.
There you go, folks at home: Nasi lemak, except totally not. Hey wait, it’s served on a banana leaf! That’s Malaysian, right?
Initially claiming that what at best could be described the Good Chef Bad Chef version of a nasi goreng (fried rice) monstrosity was just “his take” on our national dish, someone along the lines must have felt that the cards were stacked against them, and decided that the good fight of explaining to Malaysians what Malaysia’s national dish could be if we could only open our hearts, minds, and stomachs just wasn’t worth it and shut it down.
Commentators and culinary luminaries didn’t take too kindly to the redux, and tried to contextualize just how wrong the Aussie chef had it:
However, in the sea of hate, we managed to find two fans:
We’re equal parts glad and sad Good Chef Bad Chef took the video down, but remember, the internet never forgets, guys. Looking forward to your apology.