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My Beef Rendang (and the story behind it)

13 June 2008

Beef RendangEvery time my mother cooks her beef rendang, both my husband and myself tremble with childlike excitement.

We love beef rendang. I will always swear that one day I will learn how to make it from scratch, to embrace my mother’s recipe and to pass it on to future generations.

The only problem is that my mother doesn’t have the recipe written down. It’s all in her head. And her measurements and instructions are all in Chinese Aunty Language:

“it should be the size of two small fingers.”
“sprinkle a bit, but not too much”
“fry it until it smells nice”

It’s like that for all my mother’s recipes and unfortunately I still haven’t learnt a single one of them!!

So it took my husband’s initiative to get me started. He decided to learn how to cook rendang by himself – bypassing both my procrastination and all the Sacred Chinese Mother Rules. He found an excellent Goat Rendang recipe from ABC TV’s “The Cook and The Chef”. Probably a far cry from an authentic Malay recipe, but DAMN it was so good. My husband did so well. I completely recommend it!

I gave it a try the other day, and of course I changed a few things. For example I excluded the sugar, I used less coconut at the end, and I used chuck beef instead of goat.

As I pounded the lemon grass, garlic and ginger, then fried everything up… goodness me, the smells that filled my kitchen was ABSOLUTELY DIVINE. I FELT LIKE A KITCHEN GODDESS.

Thankfully I managed to take a nice picture of it. Rendang smells incredible, but it doesn’t photograph very well!

Here’s my version of it:

Beef Rendang

500g chuck beef
100g coconut cream
25g desiccated coconut
6 kaffir lime leaves
Salt to taste
40 mls peanut oil

2 lemongrass stalks (finely chopped and pounded)
1 onions chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 large dried chilli
2g cumin powder
20g ground coriander
3cm piece ginger


Cut the meat into cubes.

Pound or blend rempah into fine paste. Add the peanut oil to the pan, fry rempah until the oil separates. Add beef and fry a few minutes at high heat to colour it up.

Add salt and stir, add coconut cream, sugar and lime leaves and stir. The meat should just be covered.

Turn the heat down to a very gently simmer until tender and just a little sauce remains. About 1.5 – 2 hours, taking the lid off to reduce till there is little juice left.

Dry fry desiccated coconut until brown. Remove and pound finely in a mortar and pestle. Add to the meat just before serving.

(This recipe is based on Goat Rendang from ABC TV’s “The Cook and The Chef”.)