Friday, January 18, 2019

Beef Rendang and the Case of the Invisible Sauce

Don’t think of this amazing Indonesian beef curry as not having a sauce, think of it as not needing a sauce. By the way, it has a sauce – you just can’t see it. Flavorless water evaporates when you reduce a pan sauce, like we’re doing here, but fat doesn’t, nor does flavor, which is what makes this such a unique, and deliciously addictive dish.

Originally the recipe was developed as a way to preserve meat in hot and humid Indonesia, which is why it was cooked until dry. The lack of moisture, along with all these naturally antimicrobial ingredients meant you could keep this around for weeks without it spoiling, and apparently people enjoyed the taste and texture so much, they continued making it this way long after refrigeration was available.

Having said that, if you do want some sauce to serve with it, simply add more water during the cooking, or cover for part of the time, and you’ll be all set. Which reminds me, if you do cook this the day before, as recommended, you’ll want to add a big splash the water to the pan when you reheat it. Add some water, cover it, and when you think it’s heated through, uncover, crank the heat, and cook until it reaches your desired degree of dryness.

The ingredient list below does contain a few semi-exotic items, so I’ve added what to substitute with in parentheses, but all in all most of these things should not be that hard to find, especially online. But whether you make a few substitutions or not, I really do hope you give this intensely flavorful, and invisibly-sauced beef rendang a try soon. Enjoy!



Ingredients for 4 large portions Beef Rendang:
4 shallots, sliced (or red onion)
6 garlic cloves
1.5 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
1.5 inch piece galangal (or ginger)
1 Fresno red chili pepper
2 Serrano chili pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 or 2 tablespoons red chili flakes, depending on desired heat
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 2-inch pieces
1/2 stalk lemongrass, lighter part, bruised with back of knife
1 can coconut milk
1 generous tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons tamarind paste (or zest from a lime and lemon, plus juice from 1 lime)
steamed rice for service, garnished with cilantro and lime if desired
-->

41 comments:

High_Flyer said...

Chef, if I may ask, how much coconut milk is there in the can that you used? There are quite a few sizes available. Thanks for the recipe Chef John!

Unknown said...

Can this be done in a crockpot?

nipper said...

Thanks for a great YT vid again !
Being a Dutchman, I can very fortunately get some very nice Rendang Padang too in restaurants here in Holland.
I LOVE it !

nipper said...

Thanks for a great YT vid again !
Being a Dutchman, I can very fortunately get some very nice Rendang Padang too in restaurants here in Holland.
I LOVE it !

KBO said...

G'day Chef John, As you may have guessed by now; I draw my total, on-going, culinary inspiration from you. Indeed, you returned my cooking mojo to this old cook that the food gods saw fit to remove from me. So, with that in mind, please understand that I would rather have my fingernails removed with old Salmon Tweezers than insult or disagree with you.
With trepidation equalling that of a first time parachute jumper, I have to bring up an issue with your Beef Rendang. Of course, you say it is your take on the dish, as you often do. But most rarely one has to cook a dish which pretty much fails if one departs too far from the traditional method. Beef Rendang is such a dish.
I have eaten, cooked and studied Beef Rendang in Indonesia, Malaya and Singapore. Here at home in Australia, I’ve been privileged to be invited into the homes of Indonesian families to eat, and take ‘master classes’ in Rendang.
Now that I’ve ‘buried’ the leas sufficiently, let me say that I’ve never seen, or been served, or cooked a Beef Rendang without any vestige of sauce, as you presented in your otherwise excellent video (as usual).
Made as you did, you have nothing to sop up with your hot roti flat bread; which is, I believe, a legal requirement that must be served with this dish, sometimes called Roti Chennai.
The meat you cooked looked to be beyond perfect in texture and ‘doneness’ but on a bed of dry cooked rice, please oh please no.
In my experience there is always a larger amount of sauce made with this dish then, just before it is done, about a cup per serve is removed from the Rendang pot and set aside.
The dish, now finished is, generally served with rice on the side and the meat portioned out among the diner’s bowls. Then the approximate cup of Rendang sauce is poured over the meat. Then, as you did, one can finish off each bowl with lime slivers and lime juice.
When I make this dish I do even more sauce and use that as a ‘starter’ for the next Rendang I make. I’ve even used this as the base of a curried meat, chicken and fish soup.
My very best wishes to you and Mrs Chef John for a fantastic 2019.
Cheers, Bill Halliwell

Bill Best said...

This would be an interesting recipe to adapt for a pressure cooker considering the poking time.

Can’t wait to try it!

Anna said...

I love you! I've travelled in Malaysia and Indonesia extensively....beef rendang is Malaysian. Also...add grated coconut at the end. About half a cup for this amount. So much more flavour and texture.

Anna said...

Add grated coconut at the end. Better!

Unknown said...

Can you use Osso Bucco, start the thing in the pan but then put it in the oven for the last 3 hours or so uncovered?

Ethan said...

Yum! I am excited to try ty!

Anton Dyakulich said...

Put in into a slow cooker on high for 4 hours?

Grey g said...

If we leave it overnight and enjoy the next day, what is the best way to reheat the beef?

John Palacios said...

Hi Chef John. My wife and I love your show. I can't wait to make this dish. I'm gonna head to Berkeley Bowl today and get all the ingredients. Whenever your in Berkeley; be sure to try Jayakarta for some amazing Indonesian food and possibly inspiration for your show.

paul the slave said...

Awesome recipe! After the crispy chicken, this is next. Oh by the way, I made your cast iron cornbread last night and FINALLY it was what I have been looking for since I was a kid and ate some in the States (I'm Canadian). Usually cornbread is too dry and gritty. This version is exactly what I wanted to cook and eat. My family insists I make two more today! One wasn't enough.

Absolutely love your videos and you make everything so easy and fun. Thanks!!!

Timbo said...

My wife's favourite dish that I make. And now a new version of the recipe to try! Guess I will be busy this Saturday afternoon.

Mark said...

Looks really good. Any options for a spouse that doesn't like really spicy? Can handle some, but this seems like it would be very spicy.

Natalie said...

Looks good chef John I am going to make this tomorrow. I got short ribs instead of chuck because it was cheaper and you said could be substituted. Should I cut out the bone and cut it into smaller chunks or just leave it in the deck of card size chunks with bone in that it comes as? Thanks

MyNameIsFriday said...

On a scale of 1 to 10, how spicy is this? Not everyone I cook for can tolerate heat
Thank you!

daniel Scheuermann said...

Yeah i just tried making this and before the liquid was gone it burned i think a lot of fat pooled and that doesnt evaporate.

Jennifer Kowalsky said...

Made this tonight--makes a great pack-able lunch! So delicious! Thank you!

BSmith said...

Beautiful recipe but when liquid was evaporated I was left with puddles of fat. The beef would never “dry” unless I poured off several tbsps. Did I make a mistake?

haydens said...

Excellent recipe. I visit Indonesia and Singapore frequently and thought this was not just really good, but about as authentic as you can hope to get in an American kitchen.

Next time i make this (and i will) I'll grind the lemongrass with the rest of the veg. And i thought you went way too light on the chili flakes. They're not very spicy. I put in 4 tbs. And i prefer to salt the meat first.

I never thought rendang was something i could make at home. Thanks for the great recipe!

Unknown said...

Do you think this would work in the oven or pressure cooker?

danny said...

Best rendang is from Malaysia. Best eaten with sticky rice cooked in bamboo. A must during the Aidil fitri celebration

danny said...

Best rendang is from Malaysia. Best eaten with lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo)

Ryan from Cleveland said...

Chef John, this recipe sounds incredible. You mention that something like beef shanks would also work well in this dish, which is perfect because I have some shanks that I need to use very soon. Would you recommend removing the meat from the bones and cutting it into chunks prior to cooking, similar in size to how you showed the beef chuck? I'm hesitant to do that because the bones provide so much extra flavor.

My plan is to braise the shanks (whole) for the first 3ish hours in the oven, to keep the bones in as well as limiting how much attention needs to be paid to the stove. Then once the shanks are fall-off-the-bone tender I can cut them to smaller pieces and reduce the sauce over high heat, just like you've shown. Do you think that plan would work? I know it wouldn't follow the recipe exactly, but as a great man has said many times - that's just you cookin'!

Arya Kingston said...

Made this today. Came out great, loved it thanks for sharing!

BSmith said...

This dish was fantastic, but when my liquid was nearly gone, there were substantial puddles of fat that I did not see in your video. I poured most of it off. I may have poured off some flavor, but it would have been so greasy if I left it alone. Did I mess up?

DCS said...

Hello Chef!

Wonder if you could try making a Chinese Pork Belly recipe. I watched this video (below) and it entails so many steps and treatments that I am not sure if the meat comes out flavorfull... I´d love to try it myself but I do not think I have the time nor the tools to do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zXv_ZY6GzU


Keep the amazing work!

Carlos said...

Can you use pork shoulder?

Cherish Adore said...

Love, love, LOVE this recipe!!! Wouldn't change a thing about it! It's perfection!! I was going to cook out the liquid but when I tasted the curry, my, oh, my there was no way I was going to let that evaporate. haha. Call me crazy, but I poured it over some tater tots and meatballs and gobbled that up while the beef was still cooking. So flavorful, so tangy, spicy, creamy from the coconut milk and the lemon grass makes a huge difference in the flavor profile. Definitely one of a few best dishes I've ever had. Thank you for sharing and continue to inspire us faithfully year after year. Please share more of YOUR takes on Indian and Korean dishes; frequently they are far better than the authentic ones. You rock!

Gunnol147 said...

It's pretty crazy how 2 1/2 pounds of beef cooks down to about 12 ozs. at the end. The flavor profiles are beyond description.

Joe said...

Hi John. You are one of my favorite chef guru's. Your recipe for Beef Rendang is the best BEEF CURRY ever............ and I am an expert on curries as I have lived and worked all over in Countries in SE a Asia. Keep up the good work. Joe

LogicApe said...

At my local Asian market (south Florida), the galangal is only sold frozen. Just a tip if you're having trouble finding it.

Barbara Corbeil said...

In two and a half hours, it'll be ready. And then we will ENJOY! Thanks, Chef John.. We love you here in snowy Ottawa! :)

jlyoung said...

Delicious. I kept eating small bowls of the sauce as it reduced. I'm on a 6 food elimination diet right now, and I love that I was able to eat this in all it's complex glory without sacrificing any of the ingredients. Thanks!

Amanda said...

I bought beef chuck and simmered it according to your instructions, but it turned out tougher than expected. Not tough, but I definitely needed a knife to cut it. I set it for exactly 4 hours. I had the heat on on low-med/low, and the sauce was reducing fairly quickly, so I would occasionally add 1/2 cup of water to make the liquid last (I think I added an extra 1 1/2 cup total). I stirred it every 20 minutes for the first two hours, then every 10 minutes, then in the last 40 minutes every 5 minutes. At the 4 hour mark the liquid had completely reduced, but the meat was still much tougher than what you showed in the video. What am I doing wrong? Thank you for the feedback.

Ryan Friska Arisandhi said...

@Anna
Rendang is Indonesian food!

benwdunn said...

Thanks again, Chef John, for a great vlog! What is your recommended method for reheating the following day?

Wetora - Recipes Zone said...

hello sir chef am your biggest fan am learn alot from your blog and your blog also added in my favourt list i really like your work you are very hard worker am also start a blog to see you but i want to know more. i will be your thank full if you msg me personally i tech me some more about
Best Easy Appetizers For a Party

Eric and Soni said...

Chef John, This was absolutely amazing! Never tried anything Indonesian. Loved it, thank you!
I did not have any galangal, used regular ginger instead, still tasted awesome.
I also nixed the Fresno chili pepper. Even my 6 year old loved it!