inch piece of ginger
1 ½ c
dried red chiles
fresh red chilies
inch piece of galangal
palm sugar (gula melaka)
coconut paste (kerisik), optional
kaffir lime leaves, sliced as a garnish
While traditional rendangs might take many hours of simmering—they’re sometimes even left for days—this is an easier, home-cook-friendlier version. It’ll still probably take a whole evening to cook up, but the aromatic, coconutty, intoxicatingly caramelized end result is worth every minute.
Adapted from Grace Teo of Nyonya Cooking
- Prepare herbs and spices: Pound or blend the following ingredients separately. Put the ginger, garlic, and onions in one bowl. In a separate bowl, put the pounded shallots. In a third bowl, put the pounded fresh and dried chilies, and in the last bowl, the galangal. Finally, bruise the bottommost part of the lemongrass by lightly crushing it with a pestle or the back of a knife.
- Sauté ingredients: In a pot heated over medium-low heat, sauté the lemongrass until fragrant before adding the ginger, garlic, and onion mixture. Continue sautéing until the mixture turns almost translucent. Add galangal and sauté until fragrant before adding the shallots.
- Sauté beef: Coat beef evenly with pounded chilies, coriander powder, fennel seeds, and cumin powder. Add beef to the pot. Sauté until excess water from beef is released. This will take a few minutes. It is important not to skip this step.
- Stew dish: Soak tamarind in hot water. Add coconut milk, tamarind water, palm sugar, and kerisik to the pot. Increase heat to the maximum and bring to boil. Then, reduce heat to the lowest. Cover the pot and allow dish to simmer for 2 hours or until gravy thickens. Stir every 15-20 minutes to prevent ingredients from sticking to the pot. Once the dish is ready, stir in a few slices of kaffir lime leaves.
Yi Jun Loh
Yi Jun Loh is a freelance writer and cook. An engineer by training, he immersed himself into the food industry right after graduating from Cambridge, learning to cook in Paris and then at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York. He is now based in Malaysia, obsessing over food culture and science through his blog Jun & Tonic.