For all the flavour of South East Asia, this intensely flavourful Indonesian Beef Rendang has it all and then some. Learn why this dish is amongst the most treasured in all of Indonesia – and see for yourself how simple it is to make at home yourself…
Beef Rendang is an Indonesian beef curry that epitomises everything I love in a South East Asian food. Like a delicious Malaysian Beef Curry, meltingly tender meat, intense rich sauce and a delectably complex flavour – the beef rendang delivers top marks in all categories. A thick, clingy sauce coats big chunks of butter-soft beef - no knife required. It's also one of the easiest curries to make. It's just a waiting game...
How long should I cook a Beef Rendang?
Low and slow is the way to get the perfect beef rendang. There's a world of difference to a well cooked curry and a badly cooked one. My rendang recipe gives plenty of time to get the meat tender and the sauce to the right consistency - so, don't get too excited or greedy and take to off the heat too early! Time is your friend with a Beef rendang.
The best rendang curry paste?
To start we create two mixtures and combine. A wet paste and a dry spice mix - this creates most of the flavour to the sauce and includes all manner of delights like lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric, ginger, fennel, star anise - you get the picture...
Frying the paste in what may seem like a lot of oil ensures all the raw ingredients are cooked out. Once all the oil begins to separate from the paste, we're ready for the next step.
Next up are the remaining ingredients, creamy coconut milk will give the sauce a delicious full flavour. Incidentally, I like large hunks of beef for my rendang (about the size of the palm of your hand) Makes for good eating later!
Now it's just a matter of time - the longer the better really. 3 hours is a guide, but if you need to cook yours longer (some meats refuse to give up the fight) then just leave it til it's nice and tender.
The next ingredient and one which lifts the curry to new heights is toasted coconut or kerisik as it's known in Indonesia. I buy my coconut pre-grated and frozen, you should do the same! Nobody has the patience to crack a coconut and grate it right?
How do I get the authentic separated sauce?
Once the rendang sauce has reduced for the right amount of time - something seemingly alarming will happen within the last few moments. All that coconut cream and fat from the meat, will suddenly separate from the sauce, leaving a thick slick of oil around the meat and sauce. This is 100% legit authentic and should not be feared. Strolling around South East Asian markets you see this player of oil on almost all curries and sauces. The vendors will invariably just stir it in before serving - it's as if it never existed! Just remember, it's all flavour!
NOW, it's up to you whether you try and get rid of this, or like me embrace celebrate the duality of the sauce. Such is its richness, Beef Rendang is only meant to be eaten in small quantities anyway - so a little bit of something naughty is not too bad is it? Like I say, either stir it in and pretend you didn't see it, or skim it off to lighten the load a little.
Rendang serving suggestions
Because beef rendang is a dry curry, as in, the sauce is thick and clingy it's the perfect candidate for Asian breads - breads in Malaysia and Indonesia are a triumph of flavour and texture. The flaky roti breads are amongst some of my favourite things to eat in the world. I tried to make them once, and after a day of faffery I was left with a pile of stodgy rubbish - so I'm leaving THAT task to the Grandmothers and Aunties of Indonesia and Malaysia. Instead - I buy the frozen kind, which you can pick up at any Asian supermarket in the frozen aisle. Beware - they're buttery and not especially healthy. In for a penny!?
Alternatively you can serve with some plain Jasmine rice which is obviously a great option. Regardless of which option you choose, I like to break up the richness of the sauce with a simple side of salad vegetables - I'll usually serve with some fresh tomato wedges, a few thick slices of cucumber and a little cilantro. That cuts through the intensity and cleanses the palette, ready for your next mouthful.
More South East Asian dishes to try
Being one of my favourite cuisines, South East Asia offers some mouthwatering dishes. Staying in Indonesia and Malaysia try the epic Prawn Laksa or Malaysian Chicken Curry. Exploring more regions try my recipe for Burmese Chicken Curry - it's a sensation. You might also like to try some of my Thai favourites - Panang Chicken Curry or my Thai Fritters with Corn & Coriander. For another thick, dreamy curry try the Massaman Beef or Malaysian Beef Curry - dreamy! Or if you want to lighten things up a little, visit Vietnam and sample my Bun Cha Vermicelli Salad or Vietnamese Pork with Lemongrass & Chilli.
There's so much to try from one of the most diverse and exciting parts of the culinary World. For now, get your rendang game on and let me know just how much you loved it!