Beef Rendang. You’ll be back to this delicious recipe. Again and again.

Beef Rendang (16 of 16)The poor Irish weather is responsible for this recipe. In the same way as one is guaranteed to have a return of rain here on the Emerald Isle, you will return to this recipe. You will do so again, and again and again.  “Wow”, you muse. “Can this recipe be all that good?” It is but, that’s not exactly what I mean.

As I say, it is guaranteed to get you back to it numerous times. Not because it is so stupendous (which it is) but because over the four and a half hours it takes to cook, you will need to stay pretty close to the stove. That’s what I did on a recent wet weekend in Dublin.

Many rendang recipes have more ingredients. Numerous rendang recipes end up with a “nice sauce”. Plenty of rendang recipes take a lot less time to prepare. In short, if you want a beef rendang recipe that cooks in two hours and gives you a “nice sauce”, you don’t want this recipe. In fact, you don’t want a Beef Rendang at all. 

Let me explain. Rendang is an Indonesian dish. The cooking method was originally used as a way of preserving meat. Those Indonesians know a thing or two about that and they never intended there to be a “saus yang bagus” as they might say over there. So if you are interested in the real deal, here’s what you need to do.

Beef Rendang (1 of 16)

The brass tabletop is about as Indonesian as a pound of pork sausages. But, it looks vaguely authentic.

Ingredients for Authentic Indonesian Beef Rendang

  • 1 kilo of good Irish Beef Shin (authentic Irish)
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass
  • 8cm (3″) of ginger
  • 8cm (3″) of galangal
  • Half a bulb of garlic or two single garlic bulbs*
  • 5 or 6 shallots
  • Half a tablespoon of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
  • 3 or 4 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 5ooml (1 pint) of coconut milk**

* I cook with the single bulb garlics a lot of the time because it has a far better flavour profile to most of the tasteless, aromaless rubbish sold in Irish supermarkets. Thankfully, I get to go to France once a year on average and can buy a couple of months supply of decent garlic while I’m there.

**If you are of pioneering spirit and like an authentic taste, make your own as I did in this post here. It is worth the trouble. Otherwise, use a couple of tins of best quality coconut milk.

First thing to do is to dry fry the cumin seeds. Then bash them to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

Beef Rendang (2 of 16)

The cumin seeds dry fried to release all of their delicious flavours.

Then peel and roughly chop the shallots, galangal and garlic.

Beef Rendang (3 of 16)

A pretty potent mix for pretty potent flavours.

Add all this to a blender along with the chilli flakes and sugar.

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Galangal, garlic, shallots chilli and cumin seeds about to be blended.

Hit the loud button (Not much is as loud as the green colour on the blender).

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Blend this lot into a fine paste. It will be a really fine paste anyway.

Peel and cut the ginger into big slices. Remove the outer layer from the lemongrass. Bash it with the back of a heavy knife. Trim the beef and cut into 4cm (1.5″) cubes. Heat a casserole dish or wok and brown the beef on all sides.

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Don’t worry about the bits that stick to the bottom. They will add flavour.

Remove the beef. Add the ginger and lemongrass.

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Fry and stir this until the lovely aromas tweak your nose.

Add the spice mixture and stir and brown that until the aromas make your eyes water.

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This is a cauldron of powerful flavours.

Add back the beef. Stir to coat.

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It’s very tempting to just eat it now. Resist the temptation.

Let this fry, constantly stirring, for about ten minutes. The aromas will be amazing. Add the coconut milk.

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The coconut milk will calm everything down.

Bring this to a rolling boil, stirring pretty well all the time. Reduce the heat to it’s lowest setting.

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Don’t forget to add the kaffir lime leaves. More flavour.

Go and get a good book. You are going to be nearby for the next four hours. Leave the dish uncovered, barely bubbling. Stir it every ten to fifteen minutes to prevent anything sticking to the base. After a few chapters, the beef will look like this.

Beef Rendang (12 of 16)

An hour and a half of reading and stirring….

When you are getting to the interesting bit of the novel (I mean the bit where the love interest starts to respond, seemingly grudgingly, to the hero’s overtures), it will begin to look done.

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You might think it’s done after three hours. It’s not.

Put the book away as the last hour is where you need to stir about every five minutes. Eventually, your rendang will be just that, a rendang. There is no sauce! Only a little oil released from the beef and coconut.

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What a lovely sight. Rendang, giving up a bit of oil.

Carefully remove the lemongrass stalks and ginger. Transfer the meat to a serving dish. Serve with a little boiled rice. Every recipe (every real rendang recipe that is) I have read say that the rendang is better the following day. It is. However, this may not stop you from eating it all.

Beef Rendang (15 of 16)

Delicious with a nice cold beer.

It may take four and a half hours of your life to prepare. But, I guarantee you two things. You will cook it many times and you will become far better read too. Both are well worth the investment of time.



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Latest comments
  • This sounds stupendous! Maybe one day Australian shin beef will once again be affordable, but 7 years of drought has decimated the beef industry here to the point where beef is virtually double the price it used to be. When that day comes, I’ll know where to look for the recipe!

      • Still no Like button, so I thought I’d let you know in person that I really Like this recipe!

  • Right on the money Conor, Rendang should be moist, not wet, spicy and well caramelized, that’s the main attraction. I’m salivating just thinking about those rich flavours. I’m due an afternoon in the kitchen, I could kill a few hours cooking, not reading, while my pot of Rendang barely bubbles away.

  • This looks perfect. I love Rendang but have never made it myself, I think I will have to try it now. Especially with the colder weather around the corner. I love the fact that indeed there is almost no sauce, just the way it should be. Thanks for the recipe Conor. I am pinning it.

  • The like button wouldn’t load, so I couldn’t “like”it.

  • Hi Conor! You just gave me a reason to buy lemon grass. This looks wonderful!

  • The Like button is not loading for me either, but let me tell you, I do like this recipe! Your house must have smelled heavenly that day. I hope it was a good book. 😉

      • Hmm it’s still not loading for me on the page, I get a Loading… message after refreshing but no likey-likey button. Just know that you have lots of “I wish I could like this” likes. 🙂

  • Such a wonderful array of flavors, combined with the long cooking it looks so perfect! Indeed no Like button – maybe because it’s just stating the obvious? I like it a lot! 🙂

  • Fantastic! I just love it that you foodies in Europe and the States are trying some of ‘our’ usual recipes!!! Now you must have been in shorts rubbing your bored bottom against the school bench when I first began cooking and enjoying rendang. Totally addictive: tho’ my versions mostly come from Malaysia. And you are one of the first who has the consistency perfectly right: the picture tells the story – it is a very dry curry 🙂 ! Yours is even more authentic than Rick Stein’s!!!! Have to admit I buy my coconut milk: actually the presence of that and the need for it make me cook the dish a little less oft these days . . . it does pack a big fat wallop . . .[oh, I make mine with blade usually: yes. more easily available . . . ]

    • Just noticed the date: OK – fingers and toes crossed for your tomorrow night!! Surely . . . .

      • *smile* Slight difference in birth dates Milord . . . and this is more my ‘neck of the woods’ than yours!! Shall be thinking of you . . .

          • Good photo Milord!! Headache? 🙂 !!

  • Only one of my fave curries in the entire universe, this looks the business. I have never bothered making it, the lazy las that I am. As we will be in Leeds next week, just thought I would mention that I will be accepting ‘care packages from Ireland.’

  • I have only been following your blog for couple of weeks. I like your sense of humour and your way with words. The Gallic charm, quite!

    When I am more settled in my new job and environment, I will put your recipes eg rendang to the test.

  • Bring on the cooler weather! This looks amazing and perfect for a wet weekend in. It’s the type of recipe where I wish I had a sense of smell. I bet it’s divine.

  • One of my very fave recipes – I’m going to have to pull out my collection and take a look now! I know mine doesn’t start with Irish beef, lol! Yours does look excellent – my mouth is all but watering. And I planted lemongrass this spring and it’s coming out my ears now, not to mention beef in the fridge, lol!! Serendipitious! (I never have a chance to say that word!!)

  • i love rendang!!

  • Just got the beef sizzling and I’m wondering where the sugar goes? Is it for the strong coffee I’ll need to stay awake for all the stirring?

  • Hi, Conor,

    The recipe says half a clove of garlic. Did you mean half a bulb?



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