Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beef Rendang

My one complaint about this dish is that it didn't come out quite as tender as I would've hoped. I was expecting something that would fall apart with a fork, but didn't get that ... which I'm sure is my fault somehow (maybe slightly better beef next time?). The flavour is amazing though. I made a few substitutions, but for the most part, they were suggested by the book or optional. The only unofficial substitution I made was lime zest for kaffir lime leaves. At some point I'll go on a hunt for leaves ...

One other gripe, the original recipe calls for 5 - 20 fresh red Holland chiles. The Holland chiles at my Val-Mont were huge (much bigger than the picture in the book), so I cut it down to 3 and can't imagine using more. It definitely still had a kick, so use your judgement with the chiles and if you're heat averse, you might want to scale back even more. My shallots are also apparently bigger than what this book is based of. The recipe calls for 6, but going based on weight, I only used 4.

Beef Rendang (adapted from Cradle of Flavor)

Flavoring Paste
1 whole nutmeg, cracked open
5 whole cloves
4 shallots (140g), chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 fresh red Holland chiles, stemmed and chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp sliced or grated ginger (I keep my ginger frozen and find it easier to grate)
5 unsalted macadamia nuts
900g beef chuck, cut into cubes
2 1/2 cups coconut milk (buy 2 cans and use the 2nd can remnants on the rice or side)
3 stalks fresh lemongrass, tied into a knot*
1 piece cinnamon stick, 4 inches long
zest of two limes
1 tsp kosher salt

1. To make flavoring past, place nutmeg and cloves in a small food processor and pulse until ground to a dusty powder, about 2 minutes.
2. To the ground spices, add shallots, garlic, chiles, turmeric, ginger, and macadamia nuts. Pulse until you have a chunky-smooth paste.
3. In a 12-inch skillet, mix the beef and flavoring paste until well combined.
4. Add coconut milk, lemongrass, cinnamon, lime zest, and salt to beef. Stir well to combine and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 - 3 hours or until the liquid has reduced by 95%. Stir every 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
6. When all the liquid has evaporated, reduce heat to low. Stir every 5 minutes. Cook until the beef is the color of roasted coffee beans (10 - 20 minutes longer).
7. Discard the cinnamon and lemongrass. Allow beef to rest 30 minutes before serving.

*To knot the lemongrass, cut off the hard, brown bottom end of the stalk and an inch or so of the green top. Peel away the tough outermost 2 - 3 sheaths of the stalk. With the base of a knife handle, smack the stalk down until the plant is pliant. Finally, tie the stalk in a knot.

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