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beef rendang (indonesian / malaysian coconut beef)

January 9, 2020

This is a big YES! One of the best beef dishes I know. Just a warning that if you use a cheap, lean beef roast, this might take three to five hours of simmering to become “fork-tender”. The beef was tough after being simmered for only an hour, so I gave it another two hours, and it started to really soften up like brisket. If your meat is lean, try doing this in your slow-cooker. (I don’t own a slow cooker, so I just used a big dutch oven style pot, and it was fine!)

Spice Paste:
3/4 cup grated coconut (I used less, because I used a thicker style of coconut strip instead of a grated coconut)
15 dried chillies (I used about eight and I’d definitely 100% recommend a few more. 15 probably sounds right.)
10 shallots, sliced (I used one. Shallots are expensive.)
4 cloves garlic, sliced (I used five or six to compensate for less shallots.)
1 inch ginger (20 g), sliced
1 inch galangal (20 g), sliced (I omitted this)
1 inch turmeric (10 g), sliced
2 stalks lemon grass, sliced (I used dried old lemongrass and the flavor was not strong.)
4-6 bird chillies, optional

chunk of beef, 1-1.5lb., sliced into one or two inch chunks

1 stick cinnamon, about 2-inch length
3 cloves
3 star anise
3 cardamom pods
tamarind paste or pulp
6 finely sliced kaffir lime leaves (I left these out and they were fine.)
rock sugar or palm sugar (or regular sugar)
6 T toasted coconut (I used larger dried coconut strips, toasted in an unoiled skillet)
1 c coconut milk, plus 1 c water poured into the coconut milk can to use the solids
(optional) one turmeric leaf tied into a knot (I used one from my plant and the flavor was great. Recommended.)
salt to taste

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1. Blend spice paste ingredients. You can use a mortar and pestle, blender, food processor, or, if you have to, the side of your knife.

2. Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked. Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar or palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.

3. Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up. Add more salt and sugar to taste. Serve immediately with steamed rice. The leftovers are great frozen or packed away for the rest of the week.

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adapted from a few versions, mostly the rasa malaysia and serious eats versions

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If you eat beef, this should absolutely be on your list of special occasion dishes, to eat for birthdays or just to cheer yourself up during a long cold winter. The smell of beef rendang simmering, and the warmth of it on your stovetop, is powerful enough to beat back the winter blues. Sweet, sour, spicy, savory, creamy… this dish is everything. Perfect for a long, lazy January weekend.

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