I tried Beef Rendang for the first time over 10 years ago in my favorite ethnic restaurant in Ottawa, Chahaya Malaysia on Montreal Road. I immediately fell in love with those flavors. It is simply the best beef curry you will ever have. Although I was never able to recreate the exact taste of the dish they serve at their restaurant, my version is based on trial and error and I think you will find it is quite satisfying in every way. Don’t be thrown off by the number of ingredients in this recipe, a simple trip to your Asian market and you will be ready to cook. Leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of days and it will gain in complexity. Now, this dish is supposed to be quite spicy, but I have reduced the amount of dried hot pepper to please a large crowd, and people enjoyed it as much.
The final dish should be a bit on the dry side. A beef rendang usually does not have a lot of sauce but if you enjoy it a little more wet, add a bit more water toward the end.
For the chili paste:
15 dried chilies (I use japone pods)
5 cloves of garlic
3 lemongrass stalks
1 piece turmeric root (optional)
1 inch galangal
1 inch ginger
5 tbsp vegetable oil
3 star anise
1 three inch stick of cinnamon
8 whole cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground black pepper
For the rendang:
1 kg boneless beef cut into ½ inch cubes
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 cup water
6 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
2 tbsp sweet soya sauce (Kekap Manis)
2 ½ tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp dried unsweetened coconut
- Start by making the chili paste. Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Add all the other ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a very fine paste. Touch the paste with your fingers and if it is not smooth, add more water and blend some more. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottom pot, heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the spices. Toss them in the oil for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Add the chili paste to the pot and stir for about 10 minutes, until it takes a nice brownish color.
- Add the beef and coat well with the mixture.
- Add the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, tamarind pulp, sweet soya sauce and salt and stir.
- Simmer on low heat, uncovered for 2 ½ to 3 hours, until the beef falls apart and the sauce is sort of dry.
- Toast the coconut in a dry pan on medium heat until it reaches a deep golden color. Towards the end of cooking, add it to the beef and let simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the whole spices if you want. Serve with basmati rice and keep the rest in the fridge. The flavor will improve with time and it will keep for at least one week.
Based on a recipe from Rasamalaysia