Beef rendang

Beef rendang

Rendang (Sumatra)

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South East Asian Food

Rendang is native to Padang, and cooked to west Sumatran taste is very hot. The amounts given here are average Indonesian measures for this dish, but you can adjust them to suit your own taste by using fewer chillies. Rendang is a dry curry that owes its origin to a wealthy agriculture, where people can afford to own oxen. In the days before refrigeration this style of cooking enabled preservation of the large amount of meat that would result from killing one of these animals.

This is a north Sumatran version of rendang. It takes some attention to cook and should be made in reasonable quantities to justify this. It is best cooked in a wok. Cooked dry in this way Rendang will keep for at least two weeks in the refrigerator. It makes a tasty meal with rice and a sayur or stir-fried vegetable dish. It is delicious, too, as cold finger food.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg beef topside
4 tablespoons grated fresh coconut or steamed desiccated coconut, roasted in a dry pan until golden brown then ground finely
3 cups coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
2cm piece galangal, bruised, (optional)
2 kaffir lime leaves, (optional)
salt, to taste

Paste spices

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon coriander seed, roasted in a dry pan and freshly ground
9 teaspoons ground chilli flakes
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, chopped
2.5cm piece fresh turmeric, chopped
or 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 garlic cloves, sliced
10 shallots, sliced

Method

  1. Grind all the paste ingredients together, adding a little warm water if the mixture is dry. Cut the meat into 5 cm squares, mix with the spice paste and leave aside.
  2. Combine both the spiced beef and the coconut with the coconut milk in a wok. Add lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves if using and salt and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Cook without a lid until the gravy is almost dry. Turn the heat down low and cook until the oil comes out of what is left of the gravy. Then, taking care to stir constantly, let the meat and its spices fry in the oil until the dish is really dry and the meat has turned dark brown but is not burnt. This last ‘tempering’ process is the crucial one for rendang – the whole quality of the dish depends on the care with which it is done.
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