I embrace all things curry that every culture has to offer! I truly feel that curry is one of the greatest, unparalleled culinary creations of our time!
These days, we can choose the old school method of pounding the spices into a paste, a truly laborious and time consuming, often messy task, with spice spurts potentially staining your counter top, nearby kitchen cabinets and even the floor! When I do choose to do it the old fashioned way, it looks like I have some kind of paint job going on, with old newspapers strewn everywhere within a 3-foot radius of my mortar.
Or, if you are like me, and want to reserve your energy for the cooking (and not pounding and cleaning up after) part, use a powerful blender and blitz into a paste. Easy-peasy!
My mother, who is of Indonesian descent, does chide me though, for taking the easy way out, reminding me that the spice flavours will be somewhat compromised by modern methods. She’s probably right, though I really can’t tell because the curry is still wonderfully full-bodied, with deep, warm, layered flavours of coconut milk infused with spices. Mmmm… good enough for me!
Beef rendang is a spicy meat curry dish, not as saucy as other curries, as the beef is slowly caramelised till sauces run just short of dry. Rendang originated from Indonesia, and like most great cuisines of the world, greatly influenced that of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Here is a easy-to-cook, delicious beef rendang recipe, Singapore style, by Chef Eric Teo from his cookbook titled ‘Eric Teo’s Simply Singaporean’. I halved the recipe proportions to serve 4 to 5 persons.
BEEF RENDANG (BEEF CURRY) RECIPE
1 kg Beef Brisket, cut into 1-inch cubes
250 gm Grated Coconut, toasted brown in the oven
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
3 pieces Dried Tamarind Slices
50 gm Palm Sugar
Salt and Pepper, to taste
A (To be Blended Together)
75 gm large Onion
30 gm Garlic peeled
20 gm Ginger, peeled
20 gm Candlenuts or Buah Keras
30 gm Shallots, peeled
B (To be Added into Blended Ingredients A)
1 1/2 tbsp Ground Coriander
1 1/2 tbsp Chilli Paste
2 tbsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
2 pieces Kaffir Lime Leaves
1 piece Turmeric Leaf
1 piece Salam Leaf (Indonesian Bay Leaf)
2 cups water, or more as needed
1. Season beef cubes with salt and pepper. Let marinade for at least half an hour.
2. Heat up oil in a large cast iron wok and fry paste ingredients A and B (already previously combined) over low-medium heat.
3. Add ingredients C, stir into the spice paste mixture well and continue to fry together till spice paste turns brown and is fragrant. Add tamarind slices, continue to stir fry over low-medium heat. If the paste gets too dry, add 1 to 2 tbsp of coconut milk to prevent it from burning.
4. Once oil separates from the paste (you can see a shiny, oily sheen over the surface of the fried paste), add beef cubes and mix well to evenly coat pieces with spice paste. Add 1 cup water, let water come to the boil and then reduce heat to let simmer on low fire for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir often, adding 1/2 cup water at a time, to prevent the paste from drying up. Continue to do this (add more water as necessary) until beef is almost as tender as you would like it.
5. Add the grated coconut (very important to ensure it is toasted for enhanced flavour and aroma). Stir until well mixed. When the beef is tender enough for your liking, add coconut milk. Stir to combine well. If you prefer a thicker consistency, let simmer to reduce water content till your desired consistency. If you prefer a thinner consistency, you can add more water. Add palm sugar and salt to taste. Once oil starts to float to the top of the mixture, turn off heat and serve. Serve hot with steamed rice.