BEEF RENDANG (RENDANG)
Rendang is a dry curry that owns its origin to a wealthy agriculture, where people can afford to own oxen. In the days before refrigeration this style of cooking enabled preservation of the large amount of meat that would result from killing one of these animals.
This is a north Sumatran version of rendang and therefore quite spicy. You can suit the dish to a milder palate by using fewer chilies. Rendang takes a bit of effort to cook and therefore should be made in larger quantities. It is best cooked in a wok, and cooked dry it will keep for at least two weeks in the refrigeration. It makes a tasty meal with rice and a sayur or stir-fried vegetable dish. It is delicious, too, as cold finger food.
2 lb (1 kg) beef topside
4 tablespoons grated fresh coconut or steamed dried coconut, roasted in a dry pan until golden brown then ground finely
3 cups (750 ml) coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
Â¾-in (2-cm) piece galangal, bruised (optional)
2 Kaffir lime leaves (optional)
Salt to taste
1 Teaspoon coriander seed, roasted or Â¾ teaspoon ground coriander
9 Teaspoons ground chili flakes (this is very hot-adjust to taste)
1-in (2 Â½-cm) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1-in (2 Â½-cm) piece turmeric root, peeled and coarsely chopped or Â¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
4 Cloves garlic
10 Shallots, sliced
Grind the Spice Paste ingredients, adding a little warm water if the mixture is dry. Cut the meat into cubes and mix it with the Spice Paste.
Combine the spiced beef, the coconut and the coconut milk in a wok. Add the lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves (if using) and salt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook, uncovered, until the gravy is almost dry. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the oil comes out of what is left of the gravy. Then, stirring constantly, fry the meat and its spices in the oil until the dish is really dry and the meat has turned dark brown but is not burned. This last tempering is crucial for rendang- the whole quality of the dish depends on the care with which it is done.