Beef Rendang is one dish that does take patience as it needs to be simmered for a couple of hours. I guess nowadays people would take the "cheat" method which is to use packet prepared Rendang paste. I must confess that I personally have tried this method as well but somehow the taste is not the same! Maybe it's me being a fuss-pot but I truly don't mind putting this dish together from scratch.
Beef Rendang (Malay Spiced Coconut Beef)
700g beef cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces (I used beef chuck)
2 1/2 cups thick coconut milk (can subsitite with 200ml coconut cream mixed with 1/3 cup water)
1 cup fresh grated coconut, toasted in a pan on low fire until brown and then pound until oil develops (can subsitute with unsweetened desiccated coconut. Alternatively you can buy the prepared toasted coconut or "kerisik" from Asian grocery shops)
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only and slightly crushed
2-3 turmeric leaves [daun kunyit], [Substitute: kaffir lime leaves; or the zest of 1 lime]
1 piece cinnamon stick 2" long
1 Tbsp tamarind paste dissolved in 2 Tbsp water, sieve and keep the tamarind juice (can substitute with lime juice)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sugar (adjust according to taste)
Salt to taste
Grind into Paste:
10 pieces dried chilli, deseeded and soaked in warm water for 5 minutes (add more if you like)
2 fresh red chillies, deseeded
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
1 1/2 inch galangal [lengkuas in Malay], peeled, sliced
1 inch fresh turmeric root [kunyit basah in Malay], peeled, sliced
6 red shallots (or subsitute with 2 medium onions)
2 cloves garlic
1) Grind all the ingredients in a food processor and set aside.
2) Heat wok (or non-stick deep stewing pot) on high, stir-fry spice paste and cinnamon stick for about 4 - 5 mins until fragrant and the oil develops.
3) Add in the lemongrass and beef cubes. Stir for another 3 mins, then add in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then turn the fire to a simmer. Add in the tumeric leaf (or lime leaf/zest).
4) Then add in the tamarind juce and cook the beef in a slow simmer for 1 1/2 hours. (Add a little water if it starts to dry up too quickly].
5) Add the toasted coconut paste [kerisik] during the last 30 mins of cooking. Season to taste with salt and sugar.
9) When the beef is very tender - the gravy, thickens and oil starts to float on top - remove from heat and discard the lemongrass stalks and turmeric leaves
10) Serve Beef Rendang with steamed rice, Nasi Lemak [Coconut Rice] or Lontong, a Malay Rice Roll
Note: If you don't eat beef, you can substitute with mutton, lamb or chicken. For chicken, the cooking time should be about 45 mins to an hour. Mutton and lamb should be the same cooking time as beef.