Indonesian Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang is one of those dish that is super delicious, full of flavor from all the spices used in the cooking , yet , you really can’t cook this too often . It is very time consuming , not that it’s hard , it’s just that it takes a long time for the flavor to develop and you want to get it right , otherwise you’re just having a beef curry .

I grew up in a country where Rendang was originally come from . Although i wasn’t born in Padang , the area where this dish was from . I still got to eat them quite often , not to mention there were so many restaurant with rendang as its specialty . The restaurant would be called ” Rumah Makan Padang ” What’s interesting about this particular restaurant is how they have the display of stacked many many plates full of the dishes they have to offer . You can tell it is ‘ Rumah Makan Padang ” just by seeing how it looks from outside . At least this is how i remember them back 20 something years go , things might have changed , as i haven’t visited back home for that long . But on top of that they’re famous with their spicy dishes and the servers would bring out your food order with his / her arm full of stacked plates as well . It’s amazing ..

So , back to Rendang , it takes time to make this dish . If you think standing , stirring for 25 to 30 minutes cooking Risotto is time consuming , try making Rendang . I personally don’t know if instant pot will shorten this , it probably will but i am using the traditional method of good ol’ dutch oven . My mom used to make this , but she would ‘ cheat ‘ lol.. she wouldn’t make the spices  herself, she would buy the spices in a packet , sold everywhere around the market . She would then add little bit more spices .. and this way it cuts the time as well . It was still good .. i didn’t know any better back then . Still , my mom was an amazing cook !

Years and years later , not until i was in Texas , when i became a better cook , that i tried the real rendang from scratch instead of using the spices from the packet they sell in Asian grocery store . The spices , not gonna lie , it has a ton of spices .. i mean , i am not talking about garlic and onion only here , but wide arrange of spices , from the basic garlic , ginger , shallot , all the way to star anise , lemon grass , galangal and candlenut . Candlenut , you say ? what the heck is candlenut ? I am not quite sure how to explain this either , candle nut is sort of like hard nut , has the look of macadamia nut , but you cannot eat it raw , it is toxic . Google it .. you’ll find out more about candle nut . All this along with the protein source , are cooked , simmered in coconut milk . Yes , it is totally worth the time making it from scratch.

The first thing you have to make obviously is to make the spice paste , it is not hard . I used food processor , i’d imagine back in Indonesia , people had to use mortar and pestle to grind these spices into a paste , not fun ! With the help of food processor , it’s a matter of minute and it is finished . I throw them all spices in there , pulse and turn it on for maybe half a minute or so , and it’s done. Sometimes i’d like to make this ahead of time too . I have never freeze them tho , i’d imagine you could do this too .

Spice paste

After the spice paste is made , slice the beef , and just mix it and cook it with coconut milk . There are 3 steps in cooking this , that’s  what makes  it so long . The beef doesn’t take long to cook obviously . You can cook it until the beef is done an hour or so , and with lots of sauce , i’d call this the curry style . And then next step , if you keep cooking past this .. with thick sauce , it will be called Kalio , or somewhat wet rendang  , lots of thick sauce . My mom used to make it up to this step . If you keep cooking it past this , is step you want and it is what we call Rendang when all the sauces are absorbed by the meat , and it turns dark, and it’s super rich and delicious . Don’t get me wrong , all three stages are super awesome on its own !! i wouldn’t mind any of them 

Ingredients :

  • about 2.5 lbs beef chuck roast , cut about 1.5 inch thick , set aside , i’d put them in dutch oven
  • 2 smashed lemon grass , tie a knot if it’s too long to fit the dutch oven
  • 2-3 indonesian bay leaves
  • about 1 inch of galangal ( if you don’t have galangal , skip it .. )
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves ( skip this too if you can’t find any )
  • 5 star anise
  • 10 bird eyes chilis / cayenne pepper works too , adjust the spiciness to your taste , about 1 oz
  • 2 inches ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ground turmeric ( if you have fresh , it’s even better ! I’d use several )
  • 1.5 tsp ground cloves ( i have fresh ones , i throw in about the same amount )
  • 5 large shallots , or 10 small ones
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can , 14 oz can coconut milk , i choose full fat
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • light brown sugar , unless you have palm sugar , use it . Otherwise light brown sugar about 1 tbsp

Make the spice paste :

  • In food processor , add in garlic , shallots , ginger , ground turmeric ( or fresh ) , ground cloves ( if it’s fresh i just throw them in the pot ) , bird eye chilies . Pulse , then keep going until it becomes almost smooth .
  • Transfer all this paste into the dutch oven to be mix with the beef , mix well with your hand . Add the smashed lemon grass , kaffir lime leaves , indonesian bay leaves , star anise , cloves , galangal .
  • Add the coconut milk , add about 3/4 of water , using the can . Mix well , cook , bring to boil , turn the heat to medium low . Add salt , pepper , sugar . Keep cooking until all the coconut milk has been absorbed , you can call it done by couple hours , if the beef is tender , and you have thick sauces , or keep going until the beef turns dark , the sauce if pretty much becomes one with the meat .
  • Serve with jasmine rice

Below are some pictures I took during the cooking process . From the beginning to the end , you can see changes .

About half an hour in
I call this the curry stage .. it’s yummy but it’s not rendang yet . About an hour and half
This is the stage of kalio or wet rendang . This is the type I grew up with , my mom wasn’t willing to cook it longer than 2 hours or 2.5 hours at this point 
Finally almost there , sauce is absorbed , getting drier and it’s just so wonderful . You can stop here or keep going ..
One word amazing flavor !
Off the heat . Total 4 hours cooking

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