It's nearly always a challenge…
You're eating out and you need to choose something to order that's fairly healthy and tastes good, too.
On a recent lunch date with my mother, she asked me to suggest a place. I requested an upscale Asian cafe — primarily because I already knew they have beef rendang on their menu. (I was avoiding the usual challenge, as you can see!)
What is beef rendang? It's a common Asian beef stew — simmered in coconut sauce — that originated in Indonesia. This special treat still falls within my guidelines for a healthy entree.
The term rendang refers to the method of slowly cooking until the meat is well done and all of the liquid has evaporated. As the liquid from the sauce is absorbed into the meat, it leaves behind the oil (usually from the coconut milk) and the cooking process then changes from stewing to frying. The sauce also consists of an antimicrobial-rich spice paste which, prior to modern day refrigeration technology, reportedly helped to act as a preservative.
Since I live in a rural area with limited access to special ingredients, I improvised my own take on beef rendang.
However, the flavor is very similar to the restaurant's dish, and I will absolutely make it again!
This dish takes several hours to prepare since the sauce has to simmer down. Once the liquid is gone and the oil is left, you must watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. I recommend making it a few days in advance to allow the complex flavors to marry.
- 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 scant teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 large shallots, peeled
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 pound beef stew meat
- 2 stalks lemongrass, smashed (or dried lemongrass)
- 2 cups coconut cream or coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon sucanat
- coconut oil for frying
In the bowl of a food processor with the blade attached, combine the spices, salt, shallots, and garlic. Pulse until the mixture forms a paste.
In a heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil for frying. Working in small batches, add the meat and brown well on all sides. Set aside.
Add the lemongrass stalks and brown until fragrant, remove and set aside with the meat. Add the spice paste and cook until very fragrant and any liquid released has evaporated. Add the coconut cream or milk, and sucanat. Whisk to combine. Add the meat and the lemongrass. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a slow simmer.
Cook uncovered until the meat has absorbed the sauce, about 2 to 4 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent from sticking. When the sauce has evaporated, remove the lemongrass, slightly increase the heat, and fry the meat in the remaining fat. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, reheat and serve with side of your choice, such as steamed vegetables, soaked rice, or our favorite: cauliflower “rice”.
Enjoy! Have you had Beef Randang before?
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