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.
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 clove 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.
Then peel and roughly chop the shallots, galangal and garlic.
Add all this to a blender along with the chilli flakes and sugar.
Hit the loud button (Not much is as loud as the green colour on the blender).
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.
Remove the beef. Add the ginger and lemongrass.
Add the spice mixture and stir and brown that until the aromas make your eyes water.
Add back the beef. Stir to coat.
Let this fry, constantly stirring, for about ten minutes. The aromas will be amazing. Add the coconut milk.
Bring this to a rolling boil, stirring pretty well all the time. Reduce the heat to it’s lowest setting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.