Beef Rendang

We first had a good version of this dish in a hawker stand in Singapore and it blew my socks off (actually it was way too hot to be wearing socks but you get the idea). For me it is the perfect stewed beef, rich, spicy and totally addictive.

Its history is Indonesian in origin but it is popular throughout many of the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries and likely has roots in the cuisine of 15th century travelling Indian merchants.

Rendang shares many of the same ingredients as a Massaman Thai curry but it is made almost in reverse. Rather than frying off the curry paste and then adding stock or coconut milk, everything is added together in the pan and it gently simmers away until all the liquid is gone at which point the paste and super tender beef is gently fried in the highly flavoured residual oil. This results in something deeply delicious.

I like to use fresh coconut milk in this recipe as it gives a more authentic and subtle flavour. To make fresh coconut milk you need a grater like the one in the picture below. Once grated you simply soak the coconut in boiling water for about an hour then squeeze it through a large piece of muslin cloth. Make sure to squeeze every last bit out of it as the best is in that final squeeze.

If you can’t make this substitute with a good quality tinned milk mixed with a little water

Our recipe is quite spicy so feel free to tone down the chillies if needed. We use a combination of large dried mild chillies and pickled birds eye chillies. The pickling helps to soften the raw heat a little and pickling is a great way to make sure you always have a stash of fresh hot chilli to hand.

Once cooked, Rendang keeps wonderfully in the fridge for a good few days and can be eaten with all sorts of things. Try it classically with rice and pickles as shown in the pic or for something a little out there we had some leftovers today with a swiss rosti and fried egg… It rocked x


Spice paste

2 red onions
3 pickled or fresh birds eye chillies (seeds removed)
5 dried large mild chillies soaked in boiling water for around 10 mins then drained
4 cm piece of galangal peeled
4 cm piece of fresh turmeric, peeled
4 cm piece of ginger, peeled
2 lemongrass sticks roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
150ml fresh coconut milk or 100ml tinned and 50ml water

Other ingredients

1 – 1.5KG braising beef, the tougher more sinewy the better. Cut in to large chunks (around 3cm)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves
2 lemongrass sticks, bashed and then tied into a knot
30g dark palm sugar
2 cassia bark sticks
1 star anise
1L fresh coconut milk or 800ml of tinned with 200ml of water


Place all the ingredients for the spice paste in to a blender or food processor and blend until it is a smooth as you can get it.

Place the spice paste and everything else in to a slow cooker or casserole dish. Cook gently for many hours on the stove or oven at 120C until the beef is very tender, (I use a slow cooker and cook for 18 hours).

Once the beef is very very tender, transfer everything to a wok or large casserole pan. Remove the lemongrass sticks, cassia, lime leaves and star anise. Turn the heat up to medium and boil off the residual liquid. Try not to stir too much at this stage as you will break the beef up, but make sure also that it is not sticking at the bottom of your pan. I find a fish slice useful to just lift up the contents of the pan every so often.
When you can see that the liquid has nearly gone, the pan will start to sizzle and the contents will fry. Lower the heat and turn gently at this stage every few seconds for around 10-15 minutes until the rendang is a deep rich brown colour. Eat straight away or re-heat gently in the microwave or a saucepan.

That’s it! enjoy x