Here’s the best and most authentic beef rendang recipe ever. Spicy, rich and creamy Malaysian/Indonesian beef stew made with beef, spices and coconut milk.
What is rendang?
Rendang is a rich and tender coconut milk and meat stew which is explosively flavourful, and beef rendang is the most popular version. Called “rendang daging” in the local language, it is arguably the most famous beef recipe in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.
Origins of rendang
Beef rendang is of Indonesian origin, a delicious concoction from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia. It’s often served at ceremonial occasions to honour guests.
The dish came to Malaysia when the Minangkabau settlers from Sumatra migrated to the southern part of the Malay peninsula during the era of the Melaka Sultanate. This dish is well loved by many Malaysians, especially the Malay community.
While beef rendang remains the poster child, there are variations such as chicken rendang and lamb rendang. They are all absolutely delicious and best paired with hot rice or nasi lemak.
What kind of beef to use for rendang?
Boneless beef short ribs or stew beef cuts will ensure soft and tender meat once it’s cooked. Cut the beef into small pieces to ensure that the slow cooking process makes each chunk of beef tender and coated with the aromatic rendang curry paste.
Secret ingredient to a great rendang sauce
The secret ingredient to make the best rendang is kerisik, Bahasa Malaysia for toasted coconut. Cook the rendang on low heat to slowly stew and simmer the meat and reduce the rendang sauce.
The Minangkabaus save the dish for months as the complex taste and flavour develop over time. Do make a big portion so there’s some leftover. The flavours and aroma become more intense the next day.
• 1 1/2 lbs boneless beef short ribs, cut into cubes
• 5 tablespoons cooking oil
• 1 cinnamon stick, about 2-inch length
• 3 cloves
• 3 star anise
• 3 cardamom pods
• 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 4-inch lengths and pounded
• 1 cup thick coconut milk, coconut cream
• 1 cup water
• 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp, soaked in some warm water, discard the seeds
• 6 kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced
• 6 tablespoons kerisik, toasted coconut
• 1 tablespoon sugar or palm sugar to taste
• salt to taste
• 5 shallots
• 1 inch piece galangal
• 3 stalks lemongrass, white part only
• 5 cloves garlic
• 1 inch piece ginger
• 10-12 dried chillies, soaked in warm water and seeded
• Chop the spice paste ingredients up and blend in a food processor until fine.
• Heat oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamom and stir-fry until aromatic.
• Add the beef and pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute.
• Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.
• Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik and sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.
• Lower the heat, cover with lid, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the meat is really tender and the gravy has reduced.
• Add salt and sugar to taste.
• Serve immediately with steamed rice.
To prepare the kerisik, just pop the grated coconut into a dry wok and stir continuously until it turns golden brown.
This article first appeared in rasa.malaysia.com