Gung hay fat choy! It’s Chinese New Year… but it’s not just Chinese New Year. It’s also lunar New Year in many other countries including Singapore and Malaysia, which inspired tonight’s meal.
Beef rendang has always seemed a bit intimidating for me to make, because recipes usually call for a bunch of ingredients that are difficult for me to obtain, such as candlenuts and kaffir lime leaves, and call for the cook to grind their own spice paste and braise the beef for as long as four hours. However, I really wanted beef rendang, so after consulting a bunch of recipes, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to make a rendang with the ingredients in my kitchen, in a lot less time. The result was truly delicious and tasted just like the rendang I’ve had in restaurants. I served it with steamed rice and yu sheng (Singapoean New Year salad) – and my husband declared it probably his favourite meal ever and half-jokingly asked me to make it once a week.
My lazy version of beef rendang uses mostly powdered spices, so I didn’t have to grind anything or make a spice paste. I also omitted garlic to make this a low-FODMAP dish. I used less coconut milk than is standard (I used Thai Taste coconut milk, which comes in handy pouches, which I believe also means no BPA – yay!). This allowed me to reduce braising time to an hour. The beef still came out wonderfully tender and an hour was just the right amount of time to reduce the liquid to almost nothing, which is exactly the way rendang is supposed to be. Some people call beef rendang a curry but my understanding is that it’s supposed to be quite a dry dish, as it’s traditionally a way to preserve meat. Not that our family found out – almost all of it got eaten up in one sitting. In fact, that’s my one regret: that I didn’t double this recipe so as to have leftovers for freezing.
- 500 g beef shin or other stewing beef, preferably organic
- Vegetable oil (I used olive)
- 2-3 cm piece ginger, grated
- Zest of 1 lime, grated
- 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste (I used Very Lazy Lemongrass Paste – one teaspoon is supposed to be equivalent to one stick of lemongrass, so one tablespoon should be equivalent to three sticks)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste (this made for quite a mild rendang, because I have kids who don’t like spicy food, but rendang isn’t supposed to be scorchingly hot anyway)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 cup dessicated coconut, toasted in dry pan until golden brown
- 200 ml full-fat coconut milk
- Put a good glug of vegetable oil in a medium pot and heat to medium. Add all spices (including ginger, lime zest and lemongrass) and briefly fry until fragrant.
- Add the beef, coconut milk, and toasted, dessicated coconut.
- Cover pot, turn down heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least an hour, until almost all liquid has evaporated and rendang is chocolate brown in colour.
- If possible, leave to rest overnight before serving with rice, as flavours will deepen with time. I made this dish the day before, both for flavour reasons and so I would have enough time to make a fancier salad (yu sheng) the day of.