How about a Nasi Lemak Turkey for Christmas this year?

How about a Nasi Lemak Turkey for Christmas this year?

Craving for turkey this Christmas? Try this new twist on this holiday favorite by combining it with Asian flavors to make Nasi Lemak Turkey!

Roasted turkey is a popular staple during Christmas season and has been traditional holiday fare for centuries. But since it has been mostly unchanged for centuries, why not spice it up? How about giving it an Asian twist and turn it into Nasi Lemak Turkey?

Why fix it when it ain’t broken? We say, why not improve it? In these fast-changing times, it’s only fitting to add new flavours to a holiday favourite. Nasi lemak is amazing and turkey is a classic, so why not have both?

Recipe for Nasi Lemak Turkey

Recipe by Harry Lew, executive chef of Peony Jade Restaurant

Serves 10 to 12


For the rice:
1 fresh coconut
200g pandan leaves, rinsed
500ml water
500g white rice
50g salt

For the sambal:
3 pieces thumb-size turmeric, skin removed, chopped into chunks
200g shallots, peeled
100g dried red chillies, stems removed and soaked in hot water until soft
60g belacan paste
200ml peanut oil
200g sugar
1 tbsp salt

For the turkey:
1 turkey (about 5kg), thawed and rinsed
3 tbsp salt
3 tbsp white pepper
300ml vinegar
200ml honey
500ml water
300g long beans, chopped into 4cm-long pieces

To serve:
Cucumber slices
Fried ikan bilis


nasi lemak turkey

Image source: iCookAsia Youtube

For the rice:

1. Pour coconut water out of fresh coconut into a bowl. Grate the coconut flesh and place into the coconut water.
2. Pour the grated coconut and water into a clean muslin bag and squeeze out the coconut cream. Set aside the coconut cream and the grated coconut in separate bowls.
3. Process the pandan leaves and water in a blender. Pour the pandan liquid into a clean muslin bag and squeeze out the pandan water.
4. Wash the rice, place in a rice cooker and add the coconut milk, pandan water and salt. Cook for 30 minutes.

For the sambal: 

5. Process the turmeric, shallots, dried chillies and belacan in a blender.
6. Heat peanut oil in wok and fry the spice paste for about 25 minutes until it becomes a rich, dark red.
7. Add sugar and salt to taste and set aside in a dish to cool.

nasi lemak turkey

Image source:

For the turkey: 

8. Rub the turkey with salt and pepper, including inside the cavity. Set aside for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
9. Rub one-third of the cooled sambal onto the turkey. Set aside for one hour in the refrigerator.
10. Bring water to boil in a pot large enough to hold the turkey. Add the turkey and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
11. Remove from the water and place onto a roasting pan, breast side up. Stuff the grated coconut from step 2 into the cavity of the bird. Rub another third of the sambal onto the turkey.
12. In a pot, bring the vinegar, honey and water to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the turkey to glaze it.
13. Leave the turkey to dry for three hours before roasting.
14. Preheat the oven to its maximum heat setting. Once it hits maximum heat, bring the temperature down to 180 degrees Celsius. Place the turkey in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes, or until the red tab attached to it pops out (the tab usually comes ready-inserted into the turkey when purchased from supermarkets). A meat thermometer inserted into a thigh should register about 180 degrees Celsius.

For the long beans: 

15. Fry the long beans in the remaining sambal over high heat for about five minutes.
16. Lastly, when the turkey is cooked, remove from the oven and garnish with the long beans.

Serve the turkey with sliced cucumber, ikan bilis, peanuts and the pandan-coconut rice.

This recipe was first published in The Sunday Times on Dec 13, 2015.


It’s not just the Nasi Lemak variety that could save Christmas turkey from its old (boring) ways. You can eat turkey in lots of other styles – especially Asian style! As a bonus, here are five ways you can eat turkey Asian style, marrying Asian flavours with good old turkey.

1. Goodwood Park Hotel – 12 Treasures Turkey

nasi lemak turkey

The Goodwood Park Hotel serves two luxurious renditions of the classic dish. The first is the Asian-inspired 12 Treasures Turkey by Min Jiang’s master chef, Goh Chee Kong.

The turkey is marinated in Shaoxing wine, shallots, ginger and garlic, and stuffed with 12 premium ingredients (thus the 12 Treasure Turkey moniker), including roast pork, abalone, water chestnut and salted egg yolk. The turkey is roasted until golden brown. It’s served with vegetable fried rice and homemade chilli sauce.

If you want to go the traditional route, the second turkey dish is the tender roast turkey roulade with pork and chestnut stuffing.

Goodwood Park Hotel

2. Sheraton Towers Christmas feast

nasi lemak turkey

Sheraton Towers’ special oven-roasted turkey, infused with aromatic lemongrass and Indonesian sweet soya sauce, is the stuff Asian Christmas is made of. The turkey is served with nasi goreng stuffing and a side dish of sambal roasted potatoes. 

For group dinners, you can get the cherry-glazed semi bone-in Christmas ham and the roasted Australian grass-fed rib-eye. 

 Sheraton Singapore

3. Pacific Marketplace – Peranakan Roasted Turkey

nasi lemak turkey

Pan Pacific’s Pacific Marketplace has combined the much-loved Peranakan flavours with traditional Christmas turkey. Their Peranakan Roasted Turkey is stuffed with aromatic herbs like lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, lime, galangal and chilli. And these add a spicy kick to the beloved dish.

The dish comes with nasi kunyit (turmeric rice) and pickled vegetables. 

Pacific Market Place

4. Festive Fare at Baba Chews

nasi lemak turkey

Baba Chews Bar and Eatery is popular for its creative take on Peranakan cuisine. Their Turkey Roulade Lo Mai is a roll of turkey breast stuffed with carrots, dried shrimps, mushrooms, and lup cheong. It’s wrapped in a crispy beancurd skin and glazed with calamansi-soya sauce, served with sticky rice. 

If a whole turkey is too much, they have other options like turkey breast assam curry.

Baba Chews

5. The Fullerton Hotel’s festive feast

nasi lemak turkey

Image source:

The turkey gets a festive Singaporean makeover in Fullerton Hotel’s Nasi Lemak Christmas Turkey. It combines the flavors of the well-loved hawker dish of rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan. Before roasting, the turkey is marinated in a paste of dried chillis, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and lemongrass.

Then it is garnished with crushed ikan bilis and roasted peanuts. It comes with coconut rice, egg omelette, cucumber, peanuts, ikan bilis, and onion sambal.

Fullerton Hotel

Read: Singapore Curry Chicken Recipe: President Halimah Yacob Shares Her Secret!

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