How to make…Beef Rendang

a photo of the photo in the book
a photo of the photo in the book

So anyways, the other day I promised you a beef rendang recipe and despite spell checks attempts to turn it into a beef reading or a beef rending recipe, here it is.

I remember writing about beef rendang once before in a post for something or another. I’d said I was making it as part of an Indonesian themed meal. Some kind and knowledgeable person came in and said something like, ‘are you dreaming? It’s Malaysian, you idiot!’

Another time I wrote about in a post for something or another. I’d said I was making it as part of an Malaysian themed meal. Some kind and knowledgeable person came in and said something like, ‘are you dreaming? It’s Indonesian, you idiot!’
I’ve read about how rendang originated in Sumatra in Indonesia, and was brought to the southern parts of Malaysia from this group of people. Having said that, it’s been adopted by Malaysia and Singapore, so I’m thinking that rendang is probably the Malaysian/Indonesian savoury equivalent of the Australian/ New Zealand argument about the real origins of pavlova. And no, I’m not entering into that debate.

Essentially, rendang is dark, complexly spicy, full of the luciousness you expect from coconut milk, and is dry in texture. But, the amazing taste wasn’t the only reason I prepared this on the weekend. You see, some sort of large is rampant in the partition job- and I don’t want to get it. I figure that if the mix of spices, garlic, ginger, shallot and galangal are natural preservatives, they can also help me not catch whatever it is that’s laying the men in my office very low indeed.

The recipe I use is from Adam Liaw’s Two Asian Kitchens.

What you need for the base paste:

  • 8 shallots
  • 6 small red chillies
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3cm piece each of galangal, turmeric, ginger- peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 teasp sea salt

Whack the lot into a whizzer or a mortar and pestle and grind it into a smooth paste.

For the rest:

  • 1kg braising steak. I used gravy beef. Chop it into cubes.
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil- I use coconut oil
  • 3 stalks lemongrass (the white part) bruised up a bit with the back of a knife or a pestle
  • 1 tumeric leaf, shredded. If you can’t get this, substitute with 3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 400ml coconut cream
  • 100 g grated fresh coconut (or 130g desiccated coconut)

What you do with it…

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the paste for about 5mins or so. It will get a little darker and will smell amazing.
  • Add the beef, leaf, lemongrass and sugar and mix it about until coated.


  • Add the coconut cream, about 250ml water, and bring to a low simmer.


  • Cover and cook for 30mins, then uncover and cook for a further hour. You’ll see the coconut cream split a bit in this time- that’s ok. Most of the liquid should evaporate.


  • In the meantime, dry fry the coconut in a frying pan until golden. Watch this as it can turn quickly. Pop it into a mortar and grind to a sticky paste. This is worth doing by hand.
  • When the meat has been cooking for 90mins, and most of the liquid has evaporated, add the coconut paste and cook over a low heat for another 30mins. Stir it often to make sure it doesn’t burn. By the end of this process, the meat is essentially frying in the separated coconut oil.

Oh, and the finished product? My photo is crap. Brown against white…yes, quite literally. So I took a photo of the photo in the book. It, at least, has been styled.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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