Rendang Daging (Beef Rendang)

Beef RendangSome mornings I wake up with one word in mind: “rendang!”. I think it’s probably just a Malaysian thing, but this is a dish I literally dream about.

Beef Rendang is perhaps the most beloved Malay meal and is often the go-to main dish for many a family feast or special occasion. With its origins rooted in Indonesia, rendang is popluar throughout South East Asia, especially amongst the Malays in Malaysia and Singapore. Although not widely known outside the region, a 2011 online poll by CNN International chose rendang as the number one dish of their ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods’. Yes, rendang really is that good!

Rendang, however, seems to appeal the most to expat Malaysians. In spite of its long cooking time, rendang is relatively easy to make and can withstand a certain degree of adaptation – something that is vital given the inherent difficulties in stocking a Malay pantry abroad. On a deeper level, though, cooking up a batch of rendang can sometimes feel like an affirmation of our shared cultural identity; a reconnection to our collective culinary memories, through taste. This is the real reason for rendang’s enduring popularity; for many of us it, quite simply, tastes of home.

Ostensibly a curry, rendang is in fact what is known as a dry-curry. Cooked over an extended period, the aromatic coconut sauce is reduced to the point until it clings to the tender beef. This prolonged reduction creates an intensity of flavour that can only be described as explosive. As with all curries, a rendang benefits immensely from being made the day before serving; a night in the fridge gives the flavours time to develop and mellow. Your rendang will be all the better for your patience.

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

Beef Rendang: Serve 6

  • 600g stewing beef (soft shin or topside), cubed
  • 400ml coconut milk (1 tin)
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 50g grated coconut, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 4 kafir lime leaves
  • 2 slices dried galangal

Spice Paste:

  • 100g shallots (or red onions), roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 30g blanched almonds
  • 2 fresh red chillis, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 dried chillis, soaked in hot water
  • 30g fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground fennel powder

Method:

  1. Place the spice paste ingredients (except the turmeric) into a food processor, add a dash of water and process until you have a smooth paste
  2. Decant the spice paste into a bowl, add the turmeric and mix well
  3. Heat the oil in a wok. Add the spice paste and a splash of coconut milk
  4. Cook the spice paste until the oil separates and is fragrant
  5. Add the meat and fry in the spice paste for 5 minutes
  6. Add the rest of the coconut milk, the kafir lime leaves and slices of galangal
  7. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
  8. Cover and cook for 3 hours, stir thoroughly now and again to prevent the sauce from burning
  9. Once the meat is tender, increase the heat to thicken the gravy
  10. Add the toasted coconut, salt, sugar and pepper
  11. Stir constantly to prevent burning, you want the rendang to darken and become thick
  12. Remove from heat and store in the fridge overnight
  13. Reheat gently before serving
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