I am sure many of my readers in Malaysia and Singapore have been wondering why haven’t I posted a beef rendang or “rendang daging” recipe? Good news, the wait is finally over and here is my recipe of arguably the most famous beef dish in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.
Beef rendang is of Indonesian origin–a much-celebrated recipe from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia–and often served at ceremonial occasions and to honored guests. After spending hours making my beef rendang, I totally understand why. Beef rendang is not your everyday beef dish that one can whip up in a jiffy, the time–not to mention patience and dedication–alone is probably a main obstacle for most people. If you must know, it took me almost 3 hours to concoct a pot of this aromatic and extraordinarily scrumptious beef rendang. For those of you who have never tried beef rendang, I can only describe it as “a rich and tender coconut beef stew which is explosively flavorful,” one that is certain to win you over if you taste it.
I believe beef rendang was introduced to Malaysia when the Minangkabau settlers from Sumatra migrated to the southern part of the Malay peninsula during the era of the Melaka Sultanate, but I could be wrong. In any case, beef rendang is a very popular dish for many Malaysians, especially the Malay community.
No beef rendang is made exactly the same. If you are willing to spend time in the kitchen preparing the spice paste, toasting the grated coconut to make golden-hued “kerisik” (toasted coconut in Malay language), and then patiently cook and stew the meat over very low heat so as to dry up the liquid and make the meat tender, you will be rewarded handsomely. Like I did with my beef rendang.
Another fact about beef rendang that I absolutely have to share with you: it only gets better with time, so much so that the Minangkabaus save them for months as the complex taste and flavor develop over time. For everyday home cooks, I will advise you to serve them once the beef rendang is done, but save some leftover as it only gets better overnight.
For those of you who wish to learn more about beef rendang, check out this article on Wikipedia, or you can just feast your eyes with my beef rendang photos above, and try my beef rendang recipe.
1 1/2 pound boneless beef short ribs (cut into cubes)
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch long)
3 star anise
3 cardamom pods
1 lemongrass (cut into 4-inch length and pounded)
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 cup water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds )
6 kaffir lime leaves (very finely sliced)
6 tablespoons kerisik (toasted coconut)
1 tablespoon sugar/palm sugar or to taste
Salt to taste
1 inch galangal
3 lemongrass (white part only)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
10-12 dried chilies (soaked in warm water and seeded)
1)Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until fine.
2)Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry them until aromatic.
3)Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute.
4)Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.
5)Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar/palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.
6)Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up.
7)Add salt to taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.
Serve immediately with steamed rice and save some for overnight.
To prepare the kerisik or toasted coconut, just add the grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuosly until they turn golden brown.
If you like Indonesian or Malaysian cuisines, do check out Spittoon Extra’s roundup of “Waiter, there is something in my Indonesian.”
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