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Beef Rendang

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Serves 6 to 8

  • To learn more, read:
    How to Make Beef Rendang
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 116

Serve this aromatic Malaysian specialty with jasmine or basmati rice. You can also enjoy it with bread, using it as a filling for pita, naan, tortillas, or any other flatbread. Rendang is typically very thick, but if you prefer a saucier dish, you can add a little water after adding the toasted coconut at the end.

View a slideshow to learn more about the ingredients that make this rendang incredibly aromatic.
 

For the flavor base:
  • 15 dried japones chiles or 10 dried chiles de árbol or 3 Tbs. sambal oelek
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced shallots (from 4 large shallots)
  • 2 Tbs. sliced garlic
  • 1 Tbs. sliced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh or frozen and thawed galangal (optional)
For the whole spice blend:
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole green cardamom pods
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 3-inch-long cinnamon stick, snapped in half
For the ground spice blend:
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For the rendang:
  • 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil; more as needed
  • 2 lb. boneless top blade beef chuck (or bottom or top round, flank, or sirloin steak), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 3 wild lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium lemongrass stalks, bruised with back of knife and tied in a knot
  • 4 tsp. palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed grated fresh coconut or unsweetened frozen coconut, thawed
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for garnish (optional)
Make the flavor base:

If using dried chiles, steep them in hot water until pliable, 5 to 8 minutes; then slit and seed them (use gloves). Put the chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal (if using), and 1/4 cup water in a food processor and process to a coarse purée, about 3 minutes (if using whole dried chiles, you’ll still see little pieces of the skins).

Make the spice blends:

In a small bowl, combine the cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, and cinnamon pieces. In a second small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, fennel, turmeric, and pepper.

Make the rendang:

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-low heat until shimmering hot. Add the whole spice blend and cook, stirring constantly, until the cinnamon sticks unfold (the cardamom may also crack open), 1 to 2 minutes; don’t let the spices burn. Add another 2 Tbs. of the oil and the ground spice blend and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture sizzles and becomes fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds more (if the spices stick to the pan, add a little more oil to prevent burning).

Add the remaining 1/2 cup oil and the flavor base and cook, stirring, until the purée is an intense reddish-brown, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the beef and cook, stirring, to coat it with the spices, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, tamarind concentrate, lime leaves, and lemongrass and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, add the sugar and salt, and simmer, stirring occasionally for the first hour and then more frequently as the stew thickens, until the liquid is very thick and oil appears on its surface, about 1-3/4 hours. The meat will not be fork-tender at this point.

Meanwhile, squeeze any excess liquid from the coconut with your hands. In a 10-inch skillet, toast the coconut over low heat, stirring constantly, until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Stir the toasted coconut into the stew and then continue stirring until it's incorporated and much of the liquid is gone, about 15 minutes. Add 1 cup water if you prefer a saucy consistency. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is fork-tender, 20 to 30 minutes more (the oil will start frothing after 15 to 20 minutes).

Remove the lemongrass, cinnamon pieces, star anise, and as many cardamom pods and cloves as you can find. Transfer the meat to a serving platter and garnish with the cilantro and lime wedges (if using).

Make Ahead Tips

Beef rendang will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, but expect it to become drier and more intense as it sits.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 640; Fat (g): fat g 46; Fat Calories (kcal): 410; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 17; Protein (g): protein g 28; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 19; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 28; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 840; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 50; Fiber (g): fiber g 7;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I've tried many recipes to replicate the amazing Rendang at my local Malaysian restaurant. The restaurant is really popular (you can hardly get a seat) and Rendang is their signature dish. So I knew replicating it was going to be a tough challenge. Not only is this recipe much, much better than every other recipe I tried, it is as good as my local restaurant! I was amazed how it stacked up! Don't trust the "Rendang" you'd find in a celebrity chef cookbook. I've been there and they just don't work. After trying a bunch of short-cut methods, I believe there is no quick way to replicate the Rendang flavour. Go to the effort to track down the tamarind paste, palm sugar, etc. and you'll be rewarded. Trust me, it's worth the effort. Serve with a big pile of rice (infused with ginger and cloves) and finely sliced cucumber - this cools it down and cuts through the richness.

superb recipie,loved cooking it,was very easy and yummy,it tasted just like what I had in singapore,tnk u

Made this with oxtail, and it was a great success, rich and flavoursome. Of all the recipes I've seen for rendang, this was the most authentic I've seen. I used a couple of substitutions, extra ginger for the galangal, caraway for the fennel seeds. Because I was using oxtail, I then cooked it in the over for 3 hours at a low heat. Probably because oxtail is such a fatty cut of meat, I removed about a cup of excess oil at the end, so if you have a fatty meat then you probably need less oil

Done beef rendang before, but this is so much better.. even a bit more complex. Had a bit problem of finding this frozen coconut, so had to compose a bit as well as with the dark sugar that turned out to be a bit sweeter than palm sugar.. Good recipe, yet, need to put extra effort on finding correct ingredients, like lime leaves as well...

Fabulous!! Five. Stars for the flavor'! So deep and complex. Though my butcher looked at me like I was speaking Chinese when I asked for the cut of beef. He substituted hanger steak, which had great flavor but did not hold up to the cooking time at all. Has anyone had success with other cuts? Thanks!

Flavor-wise this is amazing. I even ate it cold the next day, it was so good! (As in went to take one bite, couldn't stop). Only note- for me it took close to three hours cooking time, so with prep it took more than the three hours listed. It's worth it though. Extremely delicious. Don't expect to have a lot of left overs because it will get eaten quickly!

Wonderful flavors! This recipe was more complex than the one in my Malaysian cookbook, but worth the extra effort. My husband's family is Malaysian, and this is one of my favorite dishes to order when visiting. I'm sorry that out of ignorance *Indofoodie* gave you one star and without even trying this recipe!

A friend of mine loves Beef Rendang. When I saw the recipe for it in your Fine Cooking Magazine, I decided to fix it for my friend! It was a HUGE success. This dish is absolutely fabulous. I am planning on making it again and again. Thank you. I love your magazine. Everything I have made out of it has been delicious. cmarnaert@msn.com

Really excellent. I made the base - then separated half of it and made it with Chx for my non-beef eating friend. Both were excellent.Only thing I did: I easily took out almost 1/2 C of oil near the end - so next time i am going to try to make with less.

I'd give this three thumbs up if it were anatomically possible. I really liked the flavor combinations which come together very well for the final product. I used 4 cayenne in place of jalapeño as that is what I had on hand, probably a bit more heat in mine but I'm going to try this again soon with the recommended peppers. I served this with a coconut water, rum and lime drink which compliments it well. Very easy preparation too with the purée in the food processor.

As an American who has lived in Malaysia and traveled throughout Southeast Asia, I can say this is a truly fabulous recipe that is authentic Malaysian but will also appeal to anyone who likes flavorful food. Indofoodie - I suggest you do a little reading before you write. Check out the excellent cultural history in the intro to Susheela's "Flavors of Malaysia" cookbook. Malaysia and Indonesia are seperate countries today only because of colonial decision making over the last few centuries. For 10s of thousands of years "Malay" peoples from somewhat different tribes and groups migrated throughout the "Malay Archipeligo." So you find Bugis, Minangkabau and other "Malay" groups in both present day Malaysia and Indonesia. Indeed, large parts of present day Thailand and Indonesia were Malay Sultanates for centuries before the west "discovered" and created these seperate countries. Also consider that while there are numerous languages spoken throughout the region, the official languages of both countries - Bahasa Malayu and Bahasa Indonesia - are so close that if you speak one you will easily communicate in the other. What you do find with a recipe, such as beef rendang, is that it can be found in present day Malaysia and Indonesia with regional variations. And there are several million Malaysians who will agree that Susheela's recipe is authetic Malaysian! Moreover, you will find that the recipes for rendang in Padang Sumatra, Java and Bali (all present day Indonesia) are different from each other. And you will NOT find today a recipe for rendang among the indigeous peoples of Kalimantan or Irian Jaya (also present day Indonesia)! So Indofoodie, I suggest that instead of getting heated up about a name, heat up this recipe, taste and smile!

I sent away for the special ingredients needed for this dish as soon as I saw the recipe. Within a week, I made the dish. It was amazing. So many different flavors intermingling, and exotic spices and other ingredients I don't often (or ever) use. I highly recommend this recipe. I did add the extra water near the end, to make more sauce. This was yummy over jasmine rice.

This recipe is excellent. I made it the day after I got the issue in the mail and everyone loved it - even those who don't like spice. The only ingredient I couldn't locate was the lime leaves, and it was delicious without them. This is definitely worth trying.

I haven't tried the recipe, but I feel that I must object on principle that it is not a Malaysian specialty. The dish is Indonesian. Just because you have a version of it you cannot claim it to be yours. It would be like if one day boeuf bourguignon were to become commonly prepared in Indonesia I would claim it to be an Indonesian specialty. I would imagine Burgundians would object. Thank you.

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