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Beef Rendang Recipe (How to make authentic Indonesian Rendang)

Do you know what the world’s best foods are? Sushi, beef rendang or lasagne? You probably thought you knew, but most likely you don’t.

If you chose rendang, congratulations!  Based on 35,000 votes, the world’s most delicious food is rendang from West Sumatra, Indonesia.

CNN scoured the planet to create the list of 50 most delicious foods in 2011, and rendang took the top position on the list.

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Introducing the best rendang- rendang minang from Sumatra

Beef rendang is one of the original cuisines of Minangkabau descent and Sumatra’s culture. It is served at special occasions to honor guests and during festive seasons. It is a delicious Indonesian dish prepared with a myriad of herbs and spices cooking for a few hours until all the liquids have been completely absorbed by the meat. Beef rendang is best eaten with steamed rice and condiments such as fried onions and chili pieces.

Here is the good news.  You do not need to travel to Sumatra of Indonesia. You can just recreate the world’s best food at home by following this beef rendang recipe.

This recipe is the authentic beef rendang recipe from the native land of Rendang in Minangkabau, tested in my kitchen based on several original recipes written in Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language).

Beef rendang 4

Making beef rendang (Updated on 25th March 2018)

I have received many comments and inquiries after publishing this recipe in early 2017. There are two problems readers encountered which I would like to provide further explanation.

Use the right type of chili.

chili for beef rendang

We use the red chili as shown in the image. There was an incidence a reader mentioned that the amount of chili way too much. I guess he might have used other types of chili such as bird’s eye chili!

If you use the red chili as shown, which is the local Serrano chili, the amount should be OK (300g for 1kg of beef). I prefer to remove the seed and pith to reduce the hotness and yet retain the flavor. If you still prefer to be less spicy, reduce the amount to 200g.

Cut the galangal into small pieces.

galangal for rendang

Why is it necessary to do this since we are going to blend the galangal with the food processor anyway? That is where the problem arises. You need to blend the galangal, garlic, onions, and chili finely before sauteing. You want this aromatics along with other spices to cook down to become a paste which will stick onto the beef.

galangal for rendang (chopped)

All these ingredients can cook down easily but NOTgalangal! The larger pieces of galangal will not disintegrate even after slow cook for four hours. The result will be a mouthful of unpalatable chunks of galangal which you want to spit out, which is quite disturbing!

Other than that, this is a delightful Indonesian dish that has won the heart of so many gastronomes. Try it out at home and I don’t think anyone will regret it.

Step by step instruction (with photos)

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Step 1: Cut the beef. Cut the beef into 4 cm squares, half cm thick. Do not cut the beef too small as the meat can break into smaller pieces during cooking.

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Step 2: Blend the spice. Blend all the ingredients in (B), set the blend aside.

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Step 3: Bash the lemongrass. Remove the green section and the outer sheath of the lemongrass. Use only the white portion. Bash them so that the lemongrass to ensure the release of the flavor.

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Step 4: Saute the spice. Heat up the vegetable oil in a wok. Saute the spice paste (B) over low heat until aromatic.

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Step 5: Add coconut milk. Add the coconut milk and lemongrass into the wok.

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Step 6: Add the beef. Add the beef and cook over medium heat. Bring the coconut milk to a boil.

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Step 7: Simmer the beef. Once it is boiled, continue to simmer over low heat. Add water from time to time when the stew is about to dry.

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Step 8: Cook until tender and turns into dark brown. Cook until the beef absorbs the flavor of the spices thoroughly and the color turns to dark brown. It will take about three hours.

Beef rendang 6

Beef Rendang Minang recipe

Yield: 2 .5kg

Beef Rendang Recipe

Beef Rendang Recipe

Authentic Indonesian dry rendang.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients (A)

Ingredients (B)- to blend

Ingredients (C)- Seasonings and Spices

Instructions

  1. Cut the beef into 4 cm squares, half cm thick. Do not cut the beef too small as the meat can break into smaller pieces during cooking.
  2. Blend all the ingredients in (B), set the blend aside.
  3. Remove the green section and the outer sheath of the lemongrass. Use only the white portion. Bash them so that the lemongrass to ensure the release of the flavor.
  4. Heat up the vegetable oil in a wok. Saute the spice paste (B) over low heat until aromatic.
  5. Add the coconut cream, turmeric leaves, kaffir lime leaves, asam keping and lemongrass into the wok.
  6. Add the beef and cook over medium heat. Bring the coconut milk to a boil.
  7. Once it is boiled, continue simmer over low heat. Add water from time to time when the stew is about to dry.
  8. Cook until the beef absorbs the flavor of the spices thoroughly and the color turns to dark brown. It will take about three hours.
  9. Served with rice or bread.

Notes

Note: Since not everyone tolerates the same level of hotness of chili, please reduce the amount and remove the seeds of the chilies if you are not used to spicy food.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1533Total Fat: 90gSaturated Fat: 43gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 39gCholesterol: 187mgSodium: 1863mgCarbohydrates: 125gFiber: 9gSugar: 83gProtein: 64g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 1/29/2019

2 types of superior rendang recipe with terrific flavor

There are two types of beef rendang, depending on how much water content is in the dish.

Dried beef rendang

According to Minangkabau (hence the name Minang rendang) tradition, their authentic beef rendang should be dry. Beef rendang is carefully stirred, simmered and cooked for three to four hours until the coconut milk has totally evaporated and the meat has absorbed the flavor of the herbs and spices. Dried rendang can be stored at room temperature for three to four weeks.  It can even last up to six months if frozen.

Moist beef rendang (kalio)

Moist beef rendang is cooked much shorter than dry beef rendang.  The cooking process ends when the coconut milk becomes a thick gravy of the rendang.  Moist rendang is more popular in neighboring countries- Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and southern Thailand. One of the exceptions is rendang Tok found in the state of Perak, Malaysia, which is dry.  Most rendang served in the western countries is moist rendang, compared to its original Minang counterpart.

Malaysian rendang is normally cooked for shorter periods and added with kerisik (toasted grated coconut) to thicken the gravy.  I have written another recipe for the Malaysian rendang which is included in the recipe compilation in my eBook.

How to prepare the best beef rendang (12 helpful tips)

It is quite easy to cook rendang Minang, but pay attention to some finer points below in order to successfully cook the most delicious food in the world.

  • Sirloin is the choice for more tender rendang, but topside is good to use since the beef is stewed for about four hours.  You can stew the meat longer by adding water until the beef is tender enough. I used the topside in this recipe and it turned out perfectly.
  • Blend the spice with an electric blender.  You do not need to add water as the chilies and onions have sufficient water content for blending.  Furthermore, it will take longer to saute the spice paste if the water is added.
  • Saute the spice paste with vegetable oil on low heat until it turns fragrant.   Add coconut milk and stir frequently.  The spice paste can scorch easily if left unattended.
  • Most Asians use a wok to cook rendang.  This is because the beef is cooked by the coconut milk at the bottom of the wok which is spherical.  Alternatively, try to find a pan with a curved bottom to cook rendang if you do not have a wok.
  • Cut the beef across the grain by using the sharpest knife you have.  If it is too soft, place it back in the freezer until it gets firmer.  Since the beef will be cooked for about four hours, the size should not be smaller than 2 cm cubes.  Otherwise, the meat will easily break into smaller pieces.
  • There is an easy way to peel the ginger and turmeric which I explained in another post.
  • I normally prefer to remove the seeds of the red chili to reduce the hotness.  Rendang is not very hot and spicy, but you can always alter the amount of chili to taste.
  • It is best to use freshly pressed coconut milk.  If it is not available, you can use canned or carton packed coconut milk.  Once opened, coconut milk should be kept in the chiller at all times.  You can also divide the coconut milk into smaller portions and keep them frozen.  Fresh coconut milk can be kept for much longer if frozen.  I have used frozen coconut milk for making rendang and it is as good as the freshly pressed one after a month.
  • Substitute the fresh coriander seeds, turmeric, and cumin with ground powder if you prefer. It will not make a huge difference to the final taste.
  • Use only the pale yellow bulbous bottom part of the lemongrass. The greenish upper part of the stalk has less flavor and should be discarded. Bashing the lemongrass before adding it to the coconut milk will help release the aromatic flavor of the lemongrass into the rendang.
  • Assam keping (also called assam kandis / gelugur in Indonesia) is available in dry pieces and is extremely sour.  You can use tamarind (assam jawa) as a replacement since it is quite similar.  However, the authenticity of rendang is lost if you substitute it with other souring agents such as lemon or vinegar. You can omit it if assam if unavailable. Some original rendang recipes from Indonesia do not include assam.  Be careful not to add too much assam as rendang is not supposed to be a sour dish.
  • Turmeric leaves are another ingredient that is not available in certain parts of the world.  If you are unable to get turmeric leaves, use two more kaffir lime leaves.
Beef rendang 7

8 bonus tips to get the best result for the beef rendang

The process of cooking rendang is simple.  The following tips will be useful to guide you through the process if you are to cook rendang for the first time.

  • Start with sauteing the spice paste with oil on low heat.  The purpose of this step is to lightly fry the spices until they become aromatic.  Constantly stir the spice paste as it can get scorched easily.  You may want to add oil for easy sauteing and remove the excess oil during stewing.  Stop sauteing when it turns aromatic or if the oil separates from the spice.
  • Once the coconut milk reaches boiling point, reduce heat to a minimum.
  • Be patient when preparing rendang.  The long cooking time will enable the flavor of the coconut milk and spices to be fully absorbed into the beef.
  • After one to two hours of continuous cooking, the liquid will turn into a thick gravy.  If you are preparing moist rendang, stop at this stage.
  • Since this is the dry beef rendang recipe, the cooking process should be continued until the liquid has totally evaporated.  This will take about four hours. Add water if it becomes too dry before the end of four hours.  The authentic Minang rendang is dry, as opposed to the moist beef rendang more popular in Malaysia, Singapore, and the western countries.
  • The liquid will eventually fully evaporate and completely caramelize.  The beef will cook continuously in the remaining oil and absorb all the flavor of the spices.
  • The color of the meat will gradually turn darker and eventually become dark brown at the end or four hours. The flavor of the spices and coconut is fully fused with the beef now.  You can finally enjoy the flavor of the authentic beef rendang Minang.
  • You can garnish rendang with turmeric leaves cut into thin strips, red chilies, and kaffir lime leaves.

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