Rendang daging or beef rendang is a celebrated dish from the Minangkabau ethnic group that is indigenous to the Minangkabau Highlands of West Sumatra, Indonesia. Rendang was made as a mean to preserve meat back when refrigerators were not commonplace. The long cooking process eliminates as much water as possible, and the meat is flavored with lots of chili and spices–this ensures that the meat can be preserved for some time without spoiling. Rendang gets better with time. At home, we keep rendang for as long as it will stay untouched (not that long), but it is definitely best the next day, and better the next week!
Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of buying rendang rempah (spice paste) here in Boston, but they are abundant back in Singapore. As such, I have learned to make my own! Thank goodness for Market Basket because they now have galangal! I had been searching for galangal in the Boston area for ages, and I’m glad I finally found it!
- 2 kg or about 4 lb beef shanks (may substitute with pork butt or chicken thighs [skinned and deboned])
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
- 7-9 kaffir lime leaves
- 6 cm piece of ginger
- 6 cm piece of galangal (Thai ginger)
- 8-10 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 400 g or about 6 large shallots
- 4 stalks lemongrass, top 3 inches discarded, cut into 2-3 inch pieces; smash each piece with the back of your knife
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
- ~ 20 pieces dried red chili, soaked in water and deseeded
- 1/4 cup water
- 1+1 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup dessicated coconut
- 1 can coconut milk
dried red chilies soaking in water
ginger root on the left, galangal root on the right (I found my galangal root at Market Basket!)
Cube your beef/chicken/pork into 2 inch cubes. We don’t want them too small, or they will cook to nothing!
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pot, then brown the meat pieces on all sides. If there is extra oil, don’t discard the oil!
Place the browned meat on a separate plate.
Cut the ginger, galangal, shallots and hydrated chili into small pieces. Add the above, garlic, water, dessicated coconut, tumeric powder, coriander powder, sugar, salt and kaffir lime leaves into your food processor.
Run the food processor until a smooth paste is achieved. [I only had a mini food processor, so I had to do this step 3 times!]
Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into the pot (with the rendered fat from meat) and fry the spice paste until fragrant.
Add the lemongrass pieces.
Add the coconut milk.
Add the meat to the sauce. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then let simmer partially covered for about 4.5 hours.
I uncovered it every hour and a half to take pictures. You’ll see that the sauce will dry up and start to brown. You want no liquid to be left, and for the sauce to be caramely brown! It looks delicious!
This caramel-like brown concoction is what we are looking for. Eat this with plain white rice and you will be in heaven!