I had the best beef rendang I have ever tasted in New York about 10 years ago. I don’t know if it was authentic but it was incredible. The beef was fall-apart-amazing, the sauce was thick, almost dry but so fruity, spicy and deep. And – they served it with a few slices of cucumber.
You need a bit of time for this dish and you need to watch it. The sauce needs to thicken and coat the meat. That’s the important thing to nail with this dish.
This is how I tried to recreate it.
What you’ll need to feed 4
- 750g steak suitable for slow cooking – shoulder or shin
For the curry paste:
- 1 onion (I used red onion)
- 1 tablespoon of peeled and chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon of peeled and chopped fresh galangal
- 1 bulb of garlic (not 1 clove – 1 whole bulb… get it in)
- 3 sticks of lemon grass, outer skin removed
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 star anise
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
- 1 can coconut milk
Roughly chop and mix the paste ingredients in a food processor or use a handheld. Give it time – if you’re having trouble getting the ingredients to “catch”, add a little more oil or even a spoonful of water or 2. Make sure the paste is well mixed.
Heat some oil in a large, thick-bottomed pan and fry the paste for a few minutes. At his point it might be quite a bright orange/yellow colour – this will darken with cooking.
Add the star anise, cinnamon and cardomom – fry a little longer.
Add the beef and coat in the paste allowing it to colour a little.
Add the coconut milk and the lime leaves. A twist of salt to help it on its way.
The meat will really need 2 1/2 to 3 hours to cook so I cooked it covered for the first half an hour just to get things moving. Some recipes I’ve read say to cook uncovered for the whole cooking but then I don’t think they cook the meat for long enough to achieve the fall-apart texture I love.
So – cook covered for 30 minutes on a heat enough for a slight bubble but nothing too extreme.
Uncover and cook for a couple of hours longer.
You’ll need to keep an eye on it. Give it a stir every so often – scrape those dark bits from the side of the pan into the sauce. You’re looking to achieve a thick, dark sauce that coats the meat – almost dry.
Once you’re happy with the meat and the sauce, take it off the heat and let it sit for few minutes. Now you can add a squeeze of lime and grate the zest of that lime into the curry as well.
Serve it with a few thickly sliced pieces of cucumber (if you want it exactly as I had it).
I think this could be my favourite curry. I love Thai food and I love Indian food but this really does it for me – it has the fragrance of Thai food but has the deeper flavours of Indian food and even mixes in the fruity flavours of southern Indian food.
Keep the rice simple with this dish. I really don’t think you want the rice overly flavoured – the sauce and the beef are the stars here.