Beef Rendang is a typical Singapore Malayan dish. It is usually eaten with steamed rice with other dishes (aka Nasi Padang). The spicy dish can be found in most of the Malay rice stalls and it is also frequently seen as one of the auspicious dishes in Malay weddings and celebrations in Singapore. The taste of the dish is rich and complex because of the many asian spices, as well as coconut milk and flakes in its recipe. The meat is slowly cooked to bring out a tender and juicy texture.
I have never try making Rendang. I always thought that Rendang is a very tedious recipe to make. Furthermore I seldom cook beef in Singapore because beef in supermarket is usually expensive as they are imported, hidden behind a glass counter. And if I were to buy beef from the wet markets, I had to tell the butchers the particular cut I want and they probably do not know what I am talking about! And the sight of chopping and slicing the cow look bizarre to me. (Beef is rather a bloody meat.) I will suggest that butchers have a list of different cuts they offer, like the farmers' markets here in Cambridge.
In US, beef is accessible, cheaper and fresher. Of course, I do warn that it is better to know where the beef is from. Knowing the source of your food gives a sense of awareness and assurance that your food is treated with minimum/ no pesticides and chemicals, antibodies and hormones.
Recipe (Serves 4 - 6 people)
A) Flavour Paste
1/4 cup packed Dried chilies, soaked in hot water for 1 hour
6-8 cloves of Garlic
1 Thumb sized knob Ginger
1 Thumb sized knob Blue Ginger (Galangal)
1/2 Thumb sized knob Yellow Ginger (Tumeric)
Using a blender, blend all the ingredients into a medium-fine paste.
B) Spice Blend
3 Green cardamon pods
1 Star Anise
1 2-inch long cinnamon stick, break into half
C) Ground Spice Blend
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Fennel Seeds Powder
1 tsp Tumeric Powder
1/4 tsp Ground Black pepper
D) For the Rendang
1/2 cup of Cooking oil
1 lb (450g) Beef Chuck, cut into 1" cubes (Good to have some fats in the beef)
200ml Coconut milk
1/8 cup Taramind concentrate
1 Lime leaf (optional)
2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed top and bruised bottom with the back of a knife
4 tsp of palm sugar
1 tbsp Salt
1/4 Grated fresh coconut or frozen coconut , thawed
Using a pan, fry the grated coconut with a pinch of salt till it turns light brown. Set aside.
In a pot, heat 2 tbsp of oil until shimmering hot. Add the spice blend and stir constantly for about 1 to 2 minutes. Careful not to burn.
Lower the heat to medium and add in another 2 tbsp of oil. Add in the ground spice blend. Stir well for 1 minute and add in the remaining of the cooking oil.
Add in the flavor paste. Let it cook until the oil separates. Stirring frequently.
Add in the beef and cook, stirring it to coat it with the spices.
When the beef turns opaque outside, add in coconut milk, taramind concentrate, lime leaf and lemongrass. Bring it to boil.
Add in sugar and salt.
Reduce the heat to low, let it simmer for 1.5 hour. The Rendang will slowly cook and the gravy will reduce to coat the beef. Oil will start to appear on its surface.
Add 1 cup of water and reduce for another 20 minutes. Here, the beef will turned tender.
Add in toasted grated coconut and stir well. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the gravy is thick. Remove from heat.
Before serving, remove the whole spices, lime leaf and lemongrass.