Rendang is a dish originally from Indonesia but is also popular in Malaysia. It traditionally consists of beef slowly cooked with spices in coconut milk until most of the liquid has disappeared and the meat has become very tender. Toasted coconut paste is then added to give the dish its final taste.
This being the first time I prepared beef Rendang I looked at a number of recipes, either in books or online and came up with this version. I'm usually not very strict when it comes to recipes and especially so when it comes to this style of cooking, which lends itself perfectly to variations. Some of the ingredients are also not always easy to find, so I have dispensed with some of them, or tried to find substitutes. I'll include ingredients which would have been nice to have between parentheses so you can use them if you have them at your disposal. But don't worry if you don't, the end result will still be delicious!
Ingredients: (for 2 persons)
- 2-3 small red shallots
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 cm galangal
- 2 cm ginger
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- fresh chilies, to taste (most recipes used dried chillies soaked overnight, but I didn't have any)
Kerisik (toasted coconut paste):
- 8-9 tbsp dessicated coconut
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 3 cardamom pods
- 400 g stewing beef, cut in cubes
- 1 stalk lemongrass, smashed open
- 250 ml coconut milk
- 75 ml water
- (1 tsp tamarind juice)
- 1 tsp kaffir lime powder (better: 2 kaffir lime leaves)
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
Prepare the kerisik. Toast the dessicated coconut under medium heat until it becomes brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to a mortar and bash until you obtain a dark brown oily paste.
Start cooking the Rendang. Heat up oil, then add the spice paste and cook until fragrant. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and lemongrass. Add the beef chunks and brown for a couple of minutes.
Add the coconut milk and water. If you're using kaffir lime powder, add it now. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of hours, stirring regularly, until the meat is tender. If there is still a lot of liquid after an hour and a half, remove the lid and continue cooking until the sauce has nearly evaporated and is of a thick consistency.
At this point, add thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves (if you are using them). Add the palm sugar and kerisik.
Mix well and serve hot with rice or flat breads.
Note: if you want to prepare this for more than two persons, you might not need to literally multiply the amount of liquids (coconut milk, water). Just make sure that the meat is more or less covered at the start of the stewing process.