Let’s Cook! Beef Rendang

May 28, 2013

Recently some initial details about the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival have been creeping out, and this, of course, has gotten me thinking about the up-coming event (okay, I’m pretty much always thinking about the Food & Wine Festival, this just got me thinking even more about it…).

Beef Rendang as served at the Epcot  Food & Wine Festival

Beef Rendang as served at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival

One of the more interesting booths the past couple of years at the festival has been Singapore – the dishes from Southeast Asia served here are different from anything else being offered elsewhere around the park, and to many guests may serve as the first introduction to some unusual and delicious flavors – lemongrass, garlic, ginger, coconut and warm spices abound…

Beef Rendang, a spicy deeply-flavored stew with coconut milk has been served at the Singapore kiosk and has been popular with some of the more adventurous diners. The recipe for this version has been published in at least one (the 2011 I believe) version of the festival cookbook, but I haven’t been quite convinced to try making this dish myself until I came across a recipe in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.

Sav0513-May-Cover-135x172In the May 2013 issue, Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland recounts his first visit to Indonesia as a teenager, his exposure to it’s cuisine, and mostly how rendang “rocked his world”. The short piece, entitled “Worth the Wait” is worth the read, and if it doesn’t encourage you to try this recipe, nothing will… well, I can also hope this post might as well…

So, let’s head off to the Asian market and gather some supplies, and then, Let’s Cook!

Beef Rendang



5  Whole Cloves

1  Whole Nutmeg (crush slightly in a mortar and pestle, or stick in a plastic bag and smash with something hard!)

3-4  Thai Chilies, stemmed and roughly chopped (or even more if you’re like me, or other hot pepper of your choice)

6  small Shallots, peel removed and roughly chopped

5  Candlenuts (or Macadamia Nuts, which you’re more likely to find)

3  cloves Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1  2″ long piece of fresh (or frozen) Turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (I’ve found this at an Indian market), or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Turmeric

1  2″ long piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1  2″ long piece of fresh Galangal, peeled and thinly sliced (a root that looks similar to ginger, if you can’t find at the Asian market use more ginger)

2  lbs Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into about 2″ cubes

7  fresh or frozen Kaffir Lime leaves, plus 4 very thinly sliced ones for garnish (you’re probably going to have to find these at the Asian market, if you can’t come across them some thin pieces of lime rind could substitute during the cooking, and grated rind for the garnish)

3  stalk fresh Lemongrass, trimmed and smashed with a mallet (or other heavy implement of destruction to tenderize a bit), then tied into knots (easier said than done…)

Lemongrass in bondage

Lemongrass in bondage

2  sticks Cinnamon

2 1/2  cups canned, unsweetened Coconut Milk

Salt to taste


Put the cloves and crushed nutmeg into your food processor and grind to a powder.

Add the chilies, shallots, nuts, garlic, turmeric, ginger and galangal and puree until it’s a paste.

Put the beef pieces into a Dutch oven or deep, heavy skillet.

Here's the beef!

Here’s the beef!

Add the paste from the processor and mix thoroughly – go ahead, use your hands…

After rubbing your meat...

After rubbing your meat…

Add the 7 lime leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, coconut milk and salt (start with a healthy teaspoon or so) and stir to mix with the beef. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil – reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring frequently.

Everybody in!

Everybody in!

After an hour or two the sauce will have begun to reduce and color slightly. Adjust heat as needed while cooking so as not to scorch the stew and continue to stir often.

After about 1 1/2 hours

After about 1 1/2 hours

The sauce will continue to reduce…

After about 2 - 2 1/2 hours

After about 2 – 2 1/2 hours

Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce turns dark and coats the beef. Remove the lemongrass, lime leaves and cinnamon sticks. You can keep this a bit more “stewy” if you like, but this time I cooked it until almost all of the “wet” part of the sauce had evaporated and the remaining goodness clung close to the meat.

After about 3 hours

After about 3 hours, extraneous matter removed

Serve with rice, and garnish with the thinly sliced lime leaves. If you want a bit more heat, you can also top with some finely chopped peppers.

The finished Beef Rendang

The finished Beef Rendang

Rich, herbal and earthy… this is certainly not a week-night-cook-after-work dish, but it’s worth the time and effort when you have a leisurely afternoon to spend in the kitchen. Like most other stew-type dishes, this does seem to be even better the next day…

If you’d like to check out the original recipe, you can view it here at the Saveur site.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you make this dish!

Now it’s back to thoughts of the Food & Wine Festival, and as always, back to the kitchen! See you soon!

2 Responses to “Let’s Cook! Beef Rendang”

  1. Emma Says:

    Looks great – we’ll have to try this!
    Just wanted to say.. I’m catching up on episodes of the Mickey Miles podcast and recently listened to the one with you and Bonnie sharing your Goofy Challenge story… so pleased for you both, what an amazing way to propose! 🙂



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