Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang

I had the best beef rending I’ve ever tasted in New York about 10 years ago. I’m not sure it was 100% authentic but it was utterly delicious. The beef was fall-apart-amazing, the sauce was thick, almost dry but so dense, fruity and spicy.

You need a bit of time for this dish and you need to keep an eye on it. The sauce needs to thicken and coat the meat. That’s the important thing to nail.

This is how I tried to recreate it.

What you’ll need to feed 4

  • 750g beef suitable for slow cooking – shoulder is ideal

For the curry paste:

  • 3 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon of peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of peeled and chopped fresh galangal
  • 1 bulb of garlic (not 1 clove – 1 whole bulb… get it in)
  • 3 sticks of lemon grass, outer skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

And then

  • 2 star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons of palm sugar

Roughly chop and mix the paste ingredients in a food processor or use a handheld. Give it time – if you’re having trouble getting the ingredients to “catch”, add a little more oil or even a spoonful of water or two. Make sure the paste is well mixed.

Heat some oil in a large, thick-bottomed pan and fry the paste until starts to darken. This can take 10-20 minutes or even longer – keep an eye on it.

Add the star anise, cinnamon and cardomom – fry a little longer.

Add the beef and coat in the paste allowing it to colour a little.

Add the coconut milk, lime leaves and sugar. A twist of salt to help it on its way.

The meat will really need 2 1/2 to 3 hours to cook so I cooked it covered for the first half an hour just to get things moving. Some recipes I’ve read say to cook uncovered for the whole cooking but then I don’t think they cook the meat for long enough to achieve the fall-apart texture I love.

So – cook covered for 30 minutes on a heat enough for a slight bubble but nothing too extreme.

Uncover and cook for a couple of hours longer.

You’ll need to keep an eye on it. Give it a stir every so often – scrape those dark bits from the side of the pan into the sauce. You’re looking to achieve a thick, dark sauce that coats the meat – almost dry.

Once you’re happy with the texture of the meat and the sauce, take it off the heat and let it sit for few minutes. Add a squeeze of lime and the zest of the lime into the curry and you’re good to go.