It has been more than three years since I posted my Beef Rendang recipe. I am pleasantly surprised that to this day I still get the occasional inquiry and request with regards to protein substitution, alternative cooking methods, or the usage of a different spice mix to make the paste. Especially after September of last year, when Rendang topped the readers’ choice list of CNN’s “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods”. I am guessing that should be a plausible factor as to why Rendang suddenly scrambled on to a lot of people’s “to-cook” list.
South-East Asian curries are unique with their own distinctive tastes and names. Rendang, Panang, Kari Ayam, Massaman, just to name a few. All in all they share different takes and preferences on blended spices and other fragrant aromatics. For those of you who have yet to be acquainted with the exotic delicacy that is Rendang, it is in a nutshell, a mildly spicy, rich and flavorful, semi-dry curry that is popular throughout the South-East Asian region, especially in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. And it is one of the main dishes that is served during Malay weddings and festivities.
This delicacy is especially dear to my heart because it brings back fond memories of how my mom used to break out her cache of spices tucked neatly away in an airtight Tupperware container marked “Rendang” and carefully measure each and every spice with her traditional mini brass metal kitchen scales that resemble an upright stickman dangling a wok on each hand.
As I’ve pointed out back in my Beef Rendang post, no two Rendang can turn out the exact same way. Mainly due to the varying amount of spices used and the ever crucial reduction process to allow the absorption of the spices into the meat yet not over-drying it. This time around, I am going to make Rendang using lamb, with a slight variation of the spices, and braising it in a crock pot/slow cooker. This was actually quite a leap for me as my preferred method have always been to stew it on the stovetop. But lo and behold, it turned out to be every bit as scrumptious as depicted.
1 1/2 lbs boneless leg of lamb (or beef or chicken), cut into cubes
7 tablespoons oil
1/4 piece turmeric leaf (optional), thinly shredded
10 kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2-inch length
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut, lightly toasted
Salt and sugar to taste
3 tablespoons oil
10 dried red chilis, soaked in warm water and seeds removed
5 fresh red chilis, seeds removed
2 stalks lemongrass (white part only), lightly smashed
7 shallots, or 1 small red onion
1 clove garlic
1/2-inch ginger, peeled
1/2-inch galangal (lengkuas), peeled
1 teaspoon corriander seeds
1 candlenut, lightly smashed
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1. Plug in the crock pot/slow cooker and turn setting to High. Blend all Spice Paste ingredients in a food processor until fine. Scoop out, and set aside. Season lamb cubes with a little salt and put aside.
2. In a wok, heat up oil, stir-fry turmeric leaf and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant.
3. Turn heat to slightly medium-high, add blended Spice Paste, stir-fry until fragrant, or until color changes for 5 minutes.
4. Put in lamb cubes, stir well and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
5. Pour in coconut milk and toasted coconut and bring to a quick boil. Turn off heat and move all pre-cooked contents from wok into crock pot and braise for 1 1/2 hours.
6. Remove pot cover, stir and check to make sure the dish is not too dry and the lamb is tender enough to your liking, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender enough. Turn off heat. Unplug crock pot and allow the dish to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The sauce will slowly evaporate, and may appear slightly dry and thickened. The Lamb Rendang is ready to dish out and serve with steamed white rice or coconut rice.
You may substitute coconut milk for yogurt, milk, evaporated milk or other dairy products, however it will alter the taste of an authentic Rendang.
Desiccated coconut may be replaced with a two tablespoons of coconut milk.
Rendang tastes better when served the next day. If possible, store some overnight in refrigerator.
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