Hardly deserves to be called a recipe, this, given that the key to success is a good, readymade rendang paste. As you know, our favourite brand is A1 in the green packet, but you can always experiment with the other options out there. The recipe below slightly complicates things in the search for a brighter, fresher flavour, but you can actually make a perfectly good quick version using only meat, paste and coconut cream.
600g beef, cut into chunks about 1.5cm cubed (allow about 150g per person; see comment below for which cut to choose)
1 packet A1 Rendang paste
1 tin coconut cream
1 Tbsp palm sugar (or other sugar if you don’t have palm)
1 or 2 stalks lemon grass
1 nubbin galangal, sliced into 3mm thick discs
4 kaffir lime leaves, crumpled to help them release their flavour
Splashes of fish sauce or sprinkle of salt to taste
2 Tbsp desiccated coconut, toasted in a dry pan until golden brown (optional)
Coriander to garnish.
- Put about a 1/4 of a cup of thick coconut cream into a large frying pan, turn the heat to high and start frying off your cubed beef. Once the beef has started to brown off on all sides, add all of the rendang paste and stir around until the meat is well coated.
- Add the remaining coconut cream, plus about a tinful of water (use this to rinse the last of the coconut cream out of the can), the palm sugar, lemon grass, galangal and lime leaves. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to medium low, leaving it to simmer for at least an hour, or until your beef is tender. If you have a lid for your pan, keep this on while simmering. Otherwise you may need to add extra water occasionally to prevent it drying out.
- When the meat is tender, check for seasoning and add the roasted coconut. Increase the heat a bit and reduce the sauce down until it’s the desired thickness. Garnish with coriander and serve with plain rice and a salad of mint, cucumber chunks, red onion and roasted peanuts dressed with a lime dressing.
Things to consider:
You can use pretty much any cut of beef for this. I prefer cheaper cuts like brisket, topside, shin beef or “gravy” beef as these usually have a bit of sinew in them that becomes deliciously glutinous when fully cooked. However this does require a longer cooking time (up to 1.5 hours). Otherwise you can use rump or other steak, though this can become dry if it’s overcooked, so you’ll need to keep trying the meat as you cook to discover what the optimal cooking time is for the different cuts.
If your frying pan doesn’t have a lid, you can also use a heavy casserole dish (usually cast iron with a lid), either on the stove top, or you can put it into a medium hot oven (about 160 C.) after you’ve brought the ingredients to the boil in step 2. Using a lidded dish and cooking not too quickly will get your meat nice and tender without drying out so much. If it’s till a bit too liquid when the meat is tender you can either return it to the oven or put it on the stove top without the lid to reduce to the desired thickness.
The additional herbs are only there to improve the flavour. They are all (lemon grass, galangal and lime leaves) already in the paste, so they’re not crucial. Given that you’ll probably have the lemon grass and galangal in frozen form, you’ll need to get them out of the freezer a while before using them. Don’t try to cut the galangal if it’s still frozen solid; you’ll end up eating finger rendang. With the lemon grass stalks, once they’ve thawed a bit, bash them with the back of a big knife to crush the stems and release the flavour more readily. If you don’t have these extras, the minimum you need is the meat, coconut cream and the rendang paste, though I would also add a bit of sugar and salt to enrich it.