Friday, February 22, 2013

Beef Rendang - Rendang Daging Tok

What do you do to a perfect looking piece of beef brisket that you got cheap from the grocery store?

Nope, not into meat curing yet, so corned beef or pastrami is out. I was thinking of using the beef brisket to make a Cantonese style beef stew, which is always a favorite. However, my other half decided that winter is perfect for making beef rendang and yellow sticky rice.

Seriously? Where did he get that from?

To add to the problem, I have never used brisket to make beef rendang before. Usually, I will go to my standby of top or bottom round, and London broil. Brisket is a tough cut of meat, with connective tissues all over that the only way to tenderize them is long over of cooking. Then again, rendang or Malay style dry curry is essentially a stew. Why not give it a try?

I remember tasting the curry beef brisket when I was in Hong Kong, and they did get the meat to turn so melt in the mouth tender and the deep flavor of the brisket works really well with the play of spices in the curry paste they used.

The recipe that I use in making rendang was taught to me by a close friend's mum years ago. She was originally from the Perak state in Malaysia, hence, her recipe of making rendang is referred to as Rendang Tok. The spice paste featured a strong presence of turmeric, and unlike rendang of other variations, it is cooked till dry.

However, for my family, they love a little bit of gravy with their yellow sticky rice. Hence, I usually leave mine a little wet compared to the traditional ones. Feel free to cook the rendang till the gravy has all evaporated. You will be rewarded with one tasty pot of spicy, coconut, beef curry stew that will keep you nice and warm in the winter months.

Rendang Daging Tok

1.5lb to 2lb of beef (brisket, top round, bottom round, sirloin or London Broil)
10 large shallots or 20 small shallots
10 dried hot peppers, deseeded and soaked in hot water till soft (more if you like yours spicy)
6 cloves of garlic
4 inches of fresh or frozen turmeric
4 inches of ginger
2 inches of galangal
3 stalks of lemongrass, white part only (or 5 heaping tablespoon of frozen chopped lemongrass)
2 Tbsp of fennel
1 Tbsp of cumin
3 pieces of kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1 piece of turmeric leaf, torn roughly (Optional if you can't find it at your Asian grocery store)
1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup of water
2 cups of thick coconut milk
6 Tbsp of fried coconut flakes (kerisik)
salt and palm sugar (or brown sugar) to taste

1. In a food processor, combine shallots, rehydrated hot peppers, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and galangal. Add in lemongrass as well if you are using the frozen chopped variant. Process ingredients into a fine paste. Add a teaspoon of water if necessary to aid in the grinding process.
2. Cut beef brisket to about 1-inch pieces.

3. In a wok or heavy bottom pot, add in 1/2 cup of oil and turn the stove to medium low. Add in the ground spices. Let cook until aromatic and oil begins to separate from the ground spices. Stir occasionally as they burn easy.

4. Once the ground spices are cooked, add in the beef brisket. Stir in half a cup of water and turn heat up to medium high. Let cook until mixture comes up to a boil. Continue to let it simmer at medium low till water is reduced, about 30 mins. Stir occasionally.
5. Once water has evaporate to a quarter of its original level, add in the two cups of coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, fresh lemongrass stalks, and turmeric leaf, if using. Continue to let the stew cook for another hour or so till meat is tender and gravy has been reduced to very thick consistency. You are looking at about 1/3 of its original level. Stir every 20 mins. Season with salt and palm sugar.
6. Once gravy has thickened to the desired consistency, add in fried coconut flakes or kerisik. Cook for another 10 mins till all gravy has evaporated and your beef rendang looks dry.

7. Beef rendang is best served with steamed yellow sticky rice (recipe to come later).

Note: Traditionally, kerisk is made out of dry fried fresh coconut flakes and then pounded. If using substitution, heat up a wok on low and add in coconut flakes. Stir till coconut flakes turned golden brown. Pound coconut flakes in a mortar or pestle. You can also grind it in a food processor.

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