Would you like the beef rendang…….

Posted on September 18, 2012


“Would you like the beef rendang or the stir-fried prawns with vegetables sir?” I chose the rendang, a dried curry that I am extremely fond of. Growing up in Penang has allowed me to develop a palette for spice and this dish is rich in aromatic spice. There are many versions of the rendang depending on the geographical locality of its cook. As the stewardess attended to my culinary request, my mind drifted to the last time I enjoyed home-cooked spicy beef rendang.

From its humble origin in Indonesia this spicy dried meat dish spread its popularity to surrounding countries, including Malaysia. Along the way wetter and curried versions were developed. I like mine dry and spicy with well-cooked beef. The key is to tenderise the beef so it melts in the mouth. This recipe can also be cooked with lamb or chicken, with the latter needing less cooking time. Just like any other spicy dish, the amount of chillies used depends on how hot one likes their rendang. Here I have added some greens, which are not commonly done back home.


1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
6 tablespoon water
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1kg beef chuck, cut into 3-4cm pieces
9 kaffir lime leaves
200ml coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
150g sugar snap peas, trimmed
Fresh coriander leaves, torn, to garnish
Red chillies, sliced thinly, to garnish

Ingredients for rendang sauce

5 stalks lemongrass, cut 4 cm from base and discard the top green part
50-100g (5-10) small red chillies, deseeded
10 cloves garlic, peeled
300g eschalots, peeled
100g fresh ginger, peeled
100g galangal, peeled
1 teaspoon ground turmeric


  1. Soak tamarind pulp in water for 15 min and strain. Keep juice.
  2. Chop all ingredients for sauce into small pieces for easy grinding in a food processor. Grind to paste.
  3. Brown beef in a pan with 2 tablespoon oil for 1 min. Set aside.
  4. Sautee ground sauce paste in a pot with 1 tablespoon oil for 5 min.
  5. Add kaffir lime leaves, tamarind juice and beef. Cook at low heat, covered, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour or until beef is tender.
  6. Stir in coconut milk. Simmer at low heat, uncovered for 20 minutes to reduce the sauce. Add salt and sugar.
  7. Add sugar snap peas. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until peas are tender.
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander and chilli.

Serves 4 (with steamed rice)

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