DARK, WONDERFULLY COMPLEX, AND RICH
DRY BEEF CURRY
Well, if you haven’t met Beef Rendang, it’s time for me to introduce you to one of the best dishes in the world!!! Originated from West Sumatra, Indonesia, Beef Rendang is a ceremonial / holiday / wedding / honor your guests must have meal. It’s definitely one of the most celebrated foods in Indonesia as well as its closest neighbors; Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. But okay, . . . let’s not nerd out on the historical side of the Rendang, I really don’t want to put you to sleep. Instead, I want you to get hungry along with me. So let’s talk about how great this meal is!
I don’t know how to put it nicely (besides into my mouth) but here it goes: Rendang, which is extraordinarily rich in flavors, doesn’t necessarily have the best look, but oh… its personality shines much, much, brighter! It’s full of spice, aromatic & satisfying – it’s not fussy temperature wise, . . . and it gets better with time! Yes, it does sound like it has all the personality traits of a person we want to marry 🙂
This luscious Indonesian stew requires time (and with that, patience) to make. This is definitely not your weeknight dinner recipe. It’s cooked gently and slowly in coconut milk along with aromatic spices. Your place will be filled with this wonderful, comforting scent – enveloping you with love, giving a nudge to slow down and be grateful for life.
The nutmeg, the cloves, the cinnamon. Mixed with the fresh chiles, ginger and galangal, harmonized with the citrusy lime leaves and lemongrass, . . . then mellowed out by hanging out in a bath of coconut milk. This dish is sensational! The flavor balance of all the many ingredients is unparalleled. I know, this is not cheap, nor a quickie meal. And yes, it is rather laborious, but the pay off my friend … Huge!
Make a jump. Commit to it. Enjoy your kitchen time / therapy. You will have an out-of-this-world dinner in about 3 hours.
Oh and by the way guys, the following recipe is adapted from James Oseland’s book, Cradle of Flavor. Even though I’ve never met Mr. Oseland, and dream one day I will, he is my hero! I was completely smitten with Cradle of Flavor. A lot of his Indonesian recipes are pretty dead-on, using ingredients that are somewhat easy to find in the United States. He finds Indonesia a second home; he captures the sense of Indonesian cooking as well as the warmth of the people. He makes me feel less homesick 🙂
Inspired by James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor
- For the Flavoring Paste:
- 1 whole nutmeg, cracked
- 5 whole cloves
- 6 shallots, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 8 fresh red Holland (or Fresno) chiles, stemmed and chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 3 inches fresh ginger , peeled and sliced against the grain
- 2 tablespoons cracked galangal root or 3 inches, peeled and sliced fresh (or frozen) galangal
- 5 candlenuts (or unsalted macadamia)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 pounds beef chuck for stew (approx. 21/2-inch cubes)
- 1 can (14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 stalks fresh lemongrass (cut off green tops), cut into 4 inch stems
- 1 piece cinnamon stick (4-5 inches)
- 8 fresh lime leaves, bruised
- 5 dried salam leaves
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
- For the Topping:
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2½ tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
- Set the oven to 300º.
- Make the flavoring paste: Place nutmeg and cloves in food processor (or mortar and pestle) and grind to a dusty powder.
- Add the rest of the flavoring paste ingredients to the food processor and pulse to a chunky-smooth paste.
- In an uncovered braiser, mix the beef and the flavoring paste until well combined. Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, cinnamon, lime leaves, salam leaves, lime juice and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. This mixture of the meat, coconut milk and flavoring paste will go on a fascinating journey. Stir often to prevent the meat and coconut milk from sticking and scorching.
- Once you see the sauce get slightly thicker and boiled down, put the cover on and stick the braiser in the oven for 3 hours.
- Take the pot out of the oven and place it onto the stovetop, sauté the beef for 5-10 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates. Then, reduce the heat to low for another 5-10 minutes.
- While allowing the beef to rest for 20 minutes, make the topping: Melt butter and add the coconut flakes, roast until golden brown.
- Discard the cinnamon, lemongrass, lime leaves and salam leaves, or you can leave the aromatics for a more rustic presentation.
- Sprinkle the topping over the dry curry.