Thursday, 21 October 2010

Rendang Daging (Beef rendang)

Beef rendang is probably one of the most popular Malay curry. I haven't met anyone who does not like this fragrant spicy dried beef curry. Nearly every Malay festive celebrations, there is always rendang of some sort, beef, chicken, lamb, dried or wet rendang.

Preparing the rempah or spice paste is important to give maximum flavour. Usiing a mini blender it only takes less than a minute to ground the spices to a smooth paste, so much easier than using pestle and mortar.

There are quite a few versions of beef rendang. This recipe is one of common type.

One of the common ingredient for rendang I can't get over here to make it as authentic as possible is turmeric leaf. Shame but without it, the rendang is still very tasty.

Kerisik or ground roasted coconut is essential for most dried rendang, it thickens the sauce and gives a nice caramelised flavour.

I have already posted this recipe on BBC food message board ages ago. I have several requests to post it on the blog so here it is.

Beef Rendang


Rempah or Spice paste:
8 -10 shallots about 125 - 150g, peeled
5 - 6 cloves of garlic. peeled
about 30 - 40g galangal, roughly chopped, cut iinto small chunks/slices
about 20 - 30g fresh ginger, cut into small chunks/ slices
about 2 – 4 fresh large red chillies, deseeded and cut into pieces. Use less if you don’t like spicy
About 10 – 12 large dried chilles, deseeded and soaked, or less if you don’t like spicy
5 – 6 candle nuts (if not, use about 10 cashew nuts)
1.5 tbsp cumin powder (freshly roasted and ground for best flavour)
2 tbsp coriander powder (freshly roasted and ground for best flavour)
2 tsp cinnamon powder

whole spices (use as whole)
4 - 5 green cardamom pods
3 star anise
4 - 5 lemongrass, topped, tailed and bruised

other ingredients:
few tbsp tamarind juice (extracted from 1 golf ball size wet tamarind with some boiling water), if using tamarind paste use around the same amount if watery, if thick use one heap tsp
about 1-1/2 tbsp palm sugar or normal sugar
cooking oil

1 - 1.25kg of beef (tougher and/or fatty cut like shin, braising steak, brisket), cut into large chunks
few tbsp of plain flour for dusting
1 –1/2 cup coconut milk ( I am using tin)
enough water for braising, about 1 cup or more

1/2 cup loosely packed kerisik (ground roasted coconut), see this post how to make this. If fresh coconut is not available  can used frozen or dessicated coconut. With dessicated coconut, dampen it slightly with couple tbsp of water before dry roasting. Dry roast using a small pan till golden brown and blitz in a blender till very fine. Kerisik is the essential ingredient for dried rendang, don’t leave it out.

Extra coconut cream if needed (see note on bottom)


  • Ground shallots, garlic, galangal, fresh ginger, candle nuts and chillies using a mini blender till as smooth as possible. Add a touch of water if the paste is dry and difficult to blend. Mix wet spice with dry spice powder.
  • Dust beef pieces with a little flour and fry with some oil at high heat very quickly till lightly golden. Remove into a dish.
  • Stir fry the spice paste with 3 - 6 tbsp cooking oil at medium heat for about 10 - 15 minutes till the spice is very fragrant. Keep stirring to prevent paste burning and sticking to pan or wok. 
  • Add in all the whole spices. Stir
  • Add coconut milk, beef, tamarind, palm sugar and about 1 cups of water and bring to a boil, lid on and gently simmer for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours or till the meat is tender. Seasoned with enough salt.
  • Remove cardamom, star anise and lemon grass if needed. I don't really bother. 
  • Add in the kerisik. If there is still a lot of sauce in the pan/wok, take the meat out using a slotted spoon and reduce the sauce before adding kerisik. 
  • After adding the kerisik, continue simmering/ stir frying till oil is separating and beef rendang is quite dry. 

If you like rendang very rich and creamy, reserve a tbsp or two of a top cream from a tin of coconut milk (don’t shake the tin before open) and stir this coconut cream into the curry before serving.

The finish product should be quite dry without much runny gravy. There may be a lot of oil floating on the meat after cooking, skimmed if you prefer. This oil is very good to flavour other curry.

Serve with plain rice, Malay lacy pancakes (roti jala) or rice cake (lontong)

** Candle nuts is available from most chinese or Thai supermarket. They look like macadamia nuts but larger.

** 4 – 5 Srewpipe leaves (pandan), twist into a knot can be added during simmering to add extra flavour.

** Traditional rendang also has turmeric leaf added but I left it out in the recipe because it's not available.

**some people like to add few kefir lime leaves to rendang, I never have, but if you preferred add some shredded lime leaves at the end of cooking.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Copycat fried 'dace' fish with black beans 自制豆豉魚

I was talking with Josh of Cooking The Book the other day about canned fried dace with black bean 'dou si lian yue 豆豉鯪魚' and how difficult to find them these days due to limited import because of suspected contaminated fish used for manufacturing. I have a craving since for this salty chewy leathery fish with yummy black beans. 

Couple of days ago I was shopping in Lidl and they had frozen pollork fish fillets* on offer. I then had an idea I could use this to make fried fish with black beans like the can stuff. Not knowing if this will work I have to try now I have the idea stuck in my head.

Pollock fish fillets are very thin, not very tasty fish IMO but I think will work for this recipe. If you don't use Pollock, other fish fillet is ok too as long as they are quite thin, no thicker than 1cm thick.

I defrosted the fish around 800g slowly in the fridge. Then lightly dust the fish with plain flour. Heat about 1.5 cup of oil in a wok till hot and fry the fish in several batches till browned, dried and crisp. Remove oil and clean wok. The fried fish shrunk quite a lot to nearly half its original weight. Be careful not to break up the fish too much during frying, do not flip it too often let one side gets crisp before turning.

I chopped 2 large cloves garlic, one 1" chunk of ginger, l large red chillies and 2 stalks of spring onion.

Then put 2/3 cup loosely packed black beans (dousi) in a sieve and rinse them, drain thoroughly.

Next heat about 1/4 cup of oil in wok till medium hot, then fry the black beans in oil medium high heat for around 1 minute till fragrant. Then throw in the chopped ginger, garlic and chillies, continue frying for another minute till fragrant.

Add 1/4 cup light soy sauce, 1/3 cup Chinese cooking wine and 1 heap tbsp of sugar, stir for a little while. Then add in the fish give it a quick stir.

Now pour in enough water to cover the fried fish, around 1.5 cup water. Let the liquid come to a boil. Cover and let simmer for around 15 - 20 minutes, take a piece of fish and check if it is soft enough (not too dry and chewy) if not simmer for a little longer, then high heat to reduce the sauce to nearly dry.

That is it. My copycat fried 'dace' with black beans is done. Ready to plate up. I then sprinkled a little spring onion on top.

The result was surprising impressive, I honestly think it's pretty close to the real McCoy. The flavour was good. Next time I think I will add more black beans.

Here are some pictures to show you the result.

 Does look like the real thing I dare say.

Closer look