I have to say that as a cook, I struggle to hand over control in the kitchen. By struggle I mean I am terrible at it. By terrible at it I mean it always ends in an argument because I annoy everyone who is cooking for me.
There is once exception. It’s when the fiancé is cooking me curry. Specifically Rendang. Being the first dish he cooked for me six years ago it holds a special place in my tummy.
The Malaysian style Rendang is a wet curry rather than the commonly seen dry style, which is Indonesian. The Malays cook it Nonya style, which is predominantly chicken based. I am a sucker for the Indonesian style myself and thus whilst we live in Kuala Lumpur, to get our hands on the best Rendang, I put the fiancé to work in the kitchen, try my best to shut up, watch Orange is the New Black and eat with utter glee.
Indonesian Beef Rendang
The husbands recipe
Makes 4-5 large portions
8 leaves finely sliced kaffir lime leaves
2tsp chopped garlic
2tsp chopped fresh or powdered turmeric
5 red birds eyes chillies, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2tsp chopped galangal or ginger
3 sticks of chopped lemongrass, white part only
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp black pepper
1tbs ground coriander seeds
500-700g chuck steak, cubed
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 1/2 tins coconut milk
100ml kecap manis, sweet dark soy
Juice of four limes
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
Start by bashing the paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle until you have a smooth consistency. This will take a while. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle a food processor will work but add a little water to break everything up and bruise the indigents before pulsing to ensure the flavours are released.
Pour a few tbs of kecap over the beef, stir around then put aside.
In a dry pan and over low heat toast the desiccated coconut until your home smells amazing and the coconut is browned. Stir constantly.
Fry the paste in a few tbs of oil until very fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices here so keep the heat low and stir frequently. After about 5 minutes it should be done.
In a separate pan heat a little more oil and fry the beef on high heat until each side is browned and caramelised. Make sure you have your exhaust fan on as the soy will set off your smoke alarm if not!
To cook in a slow cooker:
Bring all ingredients together, pour in the coconut milk and desiccated coconut and cook on the high setting for 5-6 hours. Stir every hour.
In a pot:
If you don’t have slow cooker, cooking the rendang in a large wok or pot will work but you will need to stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom. Cook for 2-3 hours or until the beef in tender and falling apart.
During the last hour add the kecap manis to taste. This will bring the sweetness to the dish. You may need more than 100ml, that is just a guidance. Same applies for the lime juice. Start with two limes and go from there. Add the sugar if you feel the balance still isn’t right.
Traditionally this should be served with coconut rice but that is just way too much of a blow out for me so normal steamed rice, roti and blanched beans will work perfectly!