After a recent visit to the delicious Malaysian island Penang, what better way to launch my blog with a classic and fragrantly rich rendang. Originally an Indonesian dish, beef rendang is a wonderfully familiar dish in Malaysia. At first it seems difficult and involved, but it is actually very easy and bound to please. Take this recipe in three stages, and you’re done. First, the paste, then the cooking, followed by the final preparation.
4 shallots, chopped
3 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 tblspn ginger, fresh and chopped
1 tblspn turmeric root, fresh and chopped
1 tblspn galangal root, fresh and chopped
1 – 2 tblspns rice bran or vegetable oil
Place all of the prepared ingredients into a food processor and blitz until it forms a coral red paste. Slowly add some oil to help bring the paste together into an emulsion.
800g beef (such as oyster blade or stewing), diced into 1cm cubes,
1L of coconut cream
1 tspn coriander, ground
1 tspn cumin, ground
1 kafir lime leaf, chopped very finely
1/2 lemongrass stalk, sliced lengthways in half
Place a large saucepan on high heat and add the beef and the paste, stirring until the beef is coated in the paste. When you can smell the warm aromatics, add the coconut cream and stir well. Add the coriander, cumin, lime leaf and lemongrass stalk. Bring it to a gentle boil, stirring regularly. When it reaches the boiling stage, reduce the heat to just keep the bubbles in the background. Leave it simmering away for 2 hours. You want the sauce to reduce so don’t place a lid on the saucepan. As the sauce reduces, it will become a deliciously rich, brown colour. The beef will feel tough when you start, but as it takes on the flavours of the sauce it will relax.
Kerisik is simply ground toasted coconut shreds. It is much better to make your own, as the bought or pre-made product can be rancid. Place 1-2 cups of desiccated coconut into a hot dry pan, gently turning it to ensure each shred is toasty, golden brown. Remove the coconut from the heat and gently grind the shreds in a mortar and pestle to release the oils. You don’t need to pulverize the coconut, just to break it down. Add 3/4 to the rendang in the final stages of cooking. You can use the final 1/4 to garnish the dish when you’ve plated. Kerisk adds a toasty warmth to the dish and season with salt and pepper
Remove the lemongrass stalks and add ¾ of the kerisik to the pot and stir it in. Leave the remain ¼ to garnish the dish