Mouse Princess

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beef Rendang - An Attempt at Indonesian Food (Part 1)


My boss at work has been buggin' me if I'm ever going to cook Indonesian food at home. She's been noticing my facebook status that said I'm cooking risotto, grilling monkfish... apprently, none of them sounds Indonesian to her. The reason why I don't really cook Indonesian food at home is because I'm not really good at it.. Often, Indonesian dishes use a somewhat complicated spice mixture that requires you to smash up the basic ingredients into a paste using a pestle and mortar. The ingredients usually include fresh chilies, shallots, galangal, candlenuts, garlic, and many more. They don't necessarily all go together, the mix depends on what you want to make. I've tried some Indonesian recipes before, but I still haven't "got it".

After moments of deep contemplation, I reluctantly googled the recipe for Beef Rendang, which originated in the Minangkabau community in Kalimantan (Borneo) Island. It's also very popular in Malaysia and Singapore. It is basically a beef stew simmered until tender in coconut milk that has been seasoned with a spice paste, consisting of shallots, garlic, red chilies, corriander seeds, and turmeric. I obviously cheated in this dish because I used ground corriander and ground turmeric. I also was unable to find fresh galangal, so I used dried instead!
However... I did the hard work in the coconut milk department since I extracted my own coconut milk from an old coconut! I love how clever people were to extract the rich and delicious coconut milk from the meats of old coconut.
Since coconut milk is considerably high in cholesterol, I tried making it "healthier" by adding carrots and potatoes, making it like a typical western stew.

Enough talking, here is the recipe!

Beef Rendang

1 kg beef shank, cubed
1 litre coconut milk

Spice Paste:
15 shallots
5 garlic cloves
1 tbsp corriander seeds
1" fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)
6 large fresh red chilies

Additional ingredients:
2 lemongrass, white stalk only, crushed
2 bay leaves
1" galangal, fresh or dried
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
a bunch of carrots, diced
4 yukon potatoes, diced
brown sugar, to season
salt, to season

01. Puree all the paste ingredients in the food processor.
02. Heat a soup pot with canola oil in it and sautee the spice paste until it is fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cubed shank. Keep stirring until the liquid evaporates.
03. Stir in the coconut milk, lemongrass, bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer until the liquid has thickened and the beef tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the carrots and potatoes while the liquid is halfway to be thickened.
04. Adjust the seasoning with salt and brown sugar.
05. Serve with steamed rice and some toasted grated coconuts (serundeng) on top.

I am pretty happy with the result, although I must admit it is far from perfect and far from tasting like the real thing. Notice the coloring, it should have been darker, perhaps because I used a very thin homemade coconut milk (poured too much water!). It did bring a taste of home and I'd love to cook Indonesian foods more often, only if the fresh ingredients were more readily available...



Anonymous Iwan said...

The thing that's always worried me about the prospect of cooking rendang is the idea of reducing the sauce down until the meat is essentially dry. To me, that sounds like a recipe for saucepan destruction; but considering I've never actually gone through with it, I guess I'm basing that on nothing.

I'm very impressed with yours there by the way, it looks very appealing. Good stuff!

July 6, 2009 at 8:40 AM  

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