Beef Rendang is an Indonesian curry that epitomises everything I love in a South East Asian 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. The key is time, giving it long enough to cook.
There's a world of difference to a well cooked rendang and a badly cooked one. So don't get too excited or greedy and take to off the heat too early. Give it plenty of time to cook the meat 'til soft and reduce the sauce for long enough until the magic happens.
Don't be alarmed
Once the sauce has reduced for the right amount of time - something seemingly alarming will happen within the last 5 minutes or so. 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.
NOW, it's up to you whether you try and get rid of this, or like me embrace celebrate the duality of the sauce. It's all flavour! Such is its richness, Rendang is only meant to be eaten in small quantities anyway - so a little bit of something naughty is not too bad is it?
A great way to intensify the flavour is to make it 24 hours in advance. The flavours will develop and make it that extra bit special - if you have the will power to wait. Rendang is a powerhouse of a curry - one of the greatest!
How to make my Beef Rendang
- 1 kg beef chuck steak (cut into large 100g pieces)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 lemongrass stalks (white parts only, thinly sliced)
- 3 shallots (finely sliced) (or 1/2 sliced medium red onion)
- 1 tbsp fresh galangal (chopped)
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger (chopped)
- 5 garlic cloves (peeled & chopped)
- 15 dried red chillies
- 4 fresh Thai chillies (seeded & chopped)
- 4 candlenuts
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
- Marinate the beef in the soy sauce and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a food processor, blend together until very smooth all the paste ingredients and 100ml of the coconut milk
- Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Add the beef in one layer and cook for 3 minutes each side to brown well. Pour over the paste and the remaining coconut milk together with 250ml water. Bring this to a simmer, then reduce the heat to very low to simmer gently. Cook, covered for 3-4 hours until the beef is very tender.
- Remove the lid and turn up the heat to moderate and reduce the sauce so that is very very thick and clings to the beef (about 15-20 more minutes). When the oil separates your work is done. Add salt if it needs any - sometimes it does, sometimes not. As it's quite a dry curry, I prefer mine served with Malaysian style roti bread (buy the frozen ones - they're great), but it'll also work with jasmine rice.
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