International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Rendang Daging

Rendang Daging (Indonesian beef simmered in coconut milk)

(Indonesian beef simmered in coconut milk)

Image Creative Commons by stu_spivack

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Rendang is an intensely flavorful "dry" meat curry that originated in the Padang cuisine of west-central Sumatra in Indonesia. This rich dish has become popular throughout the Indonesian archipelago, as well as in Malaysia and Singapore. It is considered by some to be one of the tastiest foods in the world.

This is a curry that takes some time. The slow simmering concentrates the flavor and renders the meat meltingly tender. 

The ingredients for seasoning rendang daging vary widely from region to region. Pick and choose as you have available.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Onion or shallots, minced -- 1/2 cup
  • Chile peppers, minced -- from 5 to 20
  • Garlic, minced -- 3 to 4 cloves
  • Salt -- 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil -- 3 tablespoons
  • Beef chuck or round, cut into thin slices -- 2 pounds
  • Ginger or galangal, sliced into thin rounds -- 2 or 3 rounds
  • Lemongrass, white part only, pounded flat -- 2 stalks
  • Sugar -- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt -- to season
  • Coconut milk -- 4 cups

Method

  1. Place the onion, chiles, garlic, salt and turmeric into a food processor or blender with a little water and process to a puree.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high flame. Add the onion puree and saute until fragrant and some of the excess water has cooked out. Add the beef and continue to saute until meat is lightly browned and the onion puree is reduced to a paste, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beef is very tender and the sauce is reduced to a thick gravy. It will be necessary to add a little water now and then if the sauce becomes too dry before the meat is tender.
  4. ​During the cooking process, oil will separate out from the coconut milk and rise to the top of the dish, and rendang is typically fairly oily. You can skim some of the excess oil from the top of the dish if you like. But be sure to leave some for both flavor and for the next step.
  5. When the meat is very tender, allow the remaining water to evaporate out so the meat is frying slowly in the coconut oil that has rendered out. Let the meat fry this way for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and sugar and serve with steamed rice or ketupat (rice cakes).

Rendang Variations

  • Heat Index: Rendang is typically made fiery hot with chilies. Adjust the amount to your liking.
  • Rendang seasonings:
    • The following ingredients can be pureed with the onions and garlic if you like: shredded and toasted coconut; 2 teaspoons ground cumin; 2 tablespoons coriander.
    • The onions and garlic can be eliminated if you prefer. Simply mix all the ingredients together, skipping the sauting step, and simmer until the meat is tender.
    • One or more of the following ingredients can be added with the coconut milk if you like: 3 or 4 makrut lime leaves; 3 or 4 whole cloves; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 4 or 5 curry leaves; 1 or 2 tablespoons tamarind paste; 2 or 3 crushed kemiri (candlenuts); 1 or 2 slices ginger; 2 or 3 bay leaves.
  • Rendang Kambing (Lamb rendang): Use lamb instead of beef.
  • Rendang Ayam (Chicken rendang): Use boneless chicken breasts or thighs.

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