I had the pleasure of watching a talented chef friend cook this (and subsequently ran off with his recipe!) and he described a good beef rendang as a bit like a good risotto. I didn’t quite understand what he meant until I attempted the recipe for myself. But he’s absolutely right! While you may follow the ingredients and timings to the letter, what really turns it into an amazing dish is what happens after the timer beeps. Once it’s cooked for the required time, it’s a matter of standing over your beef, stirring it constantly, hardly taking your eye off the dish for a second, just so you can ensure all the liquid has long gone and the beef is frying in the last vestiges of its own oily remnants. It’s this last bit of care and attention that really brings out those zingy layers of flavours, stickiness and spice. And boy is it worth it!
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large onion
- thumb-sized piece fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon of chilli flakes
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
- 1½ lbs / 600g casserole steak
- 1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
- thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, finely sliced
- 1 x 14 fluid ounces / 400ml can coconut milk
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- ½ tablespoon of palm sugar
In a food processor, blitz all of the paste ingredients as finely as you can.
Place the oil into a large casserole dish and heat over a medium-high heat.
Fry the meat in batches and remove to a plate with a pair of tongs.
Put the lemongrass and remaining ginger into the casserole dish, reduce to a low heat and fry for 1 minute before adding the spice paste. Fry for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Return the beef to the dish and stir to coat in the paste.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and allowing to simmer for 2 hours, stirring regularly to ensure the beef doesn’t stick.
Once the 2 hours are up, most of the liquid should be gone. Add a little seasoning.
You now need to keep the beef over a low-medium heat, stirring regularly, until all of the liquid has gone and your beef is dark and sticky.
Best served the following day.
Rendang is a dish that comes from the cuisine culture of the Minangkabau people of Indonesia. Associated with festivals and celebrations such as weddings, it is especially prepared to honour guests. It can now been found among the wider Malay community in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and the Southern Philippines. Culinary experts sometimes describe this recipe as a West Sumatran caramelised beef curry. In 2011, a survey carried out by CNN International chose beef rendang as the top of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers’ Pick)”.