Some Like It Hot.

Beef Rendang II

N.B: Z babe (yes, you sweetie), this one’s for you. XX

I’m not usually a huge fan of rendang. In fact, when given a choice of what to have with my roti prata, i find myself more often than not going with the ever favourite chicken curry.

What really prompted me to attempt to make this dish was a darling friend, Z’s proclamation that she has been looking for a rendang recipe upon my purchase of a local Peranakan cookbook (yes, i carved in) and the huge hunk of beef rump sitting in the freezer.

Beef Rendang

The original recipe calls for a very modest list of spices but i couldn’t resist throwing in a couple more like the cloves, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, belachan, tumeric powder and candlenuts (phew!), essentially easily doubling the list of ingredients. I also used fresh coconut milk, made by combining water with freshly grated coconut and squeezing the moist grated coconut over a strainer, and made up the rest of quantity of the liquid needed with water so as to make this dish a little less rich and sinful.

This was so easy to put together it practically cooked itself; really just a lot of pounding with the mortar and pestle which is my favourite part, a bit of frying, throwing in the rest of the ingredients and letting it do its thing while you do yours- i hopped on the treadmill in anticipation of the sinful meal i was going to have. When you get back, a pot of tender, juicy beef chunks, simmering in a wonderful union of spices and thick aromatic paste awaits you.

All that’s left is to fry the roti prata- i used frozen ones available at the local supermarket which apparently have no cholesterol and sugar. They really puff up and brown quite nicely over high heat (no oil needed!) and tasted pretty much like the fresh ones you get from the prata stores- thin, crispy and piping hot :)

This makes quite a bit of rendang for my currently downsized household. But seeing as how it will taste better the following day after a good night’s rest in the fridge, this is the one time i’m more than happy to have leftovers :D


Totally off topic but some random shots from my last week-

I spent the weekend watching the first ever Formula One night race. It took some convincing for me to agree to show up for it but no regrets at all from my part. I’m still amazed how they turned streets i’ve travelled on a zillion times into a street circuit and how they pulled the entire thing off in nine months.

Moving into my new room! Starting with my cookbooks of course- baking books on the top shelf, books involving cooking on the middle and my stash of food magazines on the bottom- forty three at last count!

Beef Rendang [Loosely adapted from Irene’s Peranakan Recipes]

Beef Rendang III

1 kg beef rump, cut roughly into chunks
1/2 tbsp oil
4 cloves
2 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only, lightly bruised
1 tbsp tamarind seeds, soaked in a bit of hot water
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tsp sugar
2 large chilis, sliced lengthwise
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Roti pratas, to serve

6 large red chilis, roughly sliced
6 chili padis, sliced*
8 garlic cloves, peeled
12 shallots, peeled
2 cm belachan, toasted
2 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp corriander seeds
3 candlenuts
1 knob of galangal

  1. To make rempah Using a pestle and mortar, pound the chilis, garlic cloves, galangal and shallots together. Add the belachan and the candle nuts in, followed by the spices.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over high heat- when you can no longer hold your hand over the pan for more than a few seconds, you’re good to go. Lower to heat to medium high and pour the oil in, swirling the pan to coat the surface. Add the rempah, cloves, cinnamon, lemon grass and star anise in and fry till fragrant. Add the beef pieces in and fry till the beef is browned all over.
  3. Gradually pour the coconut milk and water in, as well as the juice from the tamarind mixture, discarding the seeds. Stir well and add the potatoes, red chili, sugar and salt in. Add enough water to cover the beef pieces and potatoes.
  4. Turning the heat up and allowing the mixture to come to a boil, cover the pan with a lid for let it boil for 30 minutes. Add more water at any time if necessary.
  5. By now, the mixture should have thicken slightly. Turn the heat down to allow the mixture to simmer. Taste the rendang and adjust seasoning if needed. Allow rendang to cook till beef pieces is tender and can be easily pierced through with a fork. Serve with roti pratas. Serves 4

* use fewer chili padis or omit them totally if you prefer your curries with less heat

Leave a comment


  1. liz

     /  October 3, 2008

    yay!:) thank you sweetie! haha. i wish i had some beef in the freezer now:(
    i love how it’s presented- the tender, spicy meat against the white bowl.
    thank YOU! love that i (kind of, sort of) inspired the making of this:D

  2. hmm looks so yummy. I like spicy food . Seems a bit complicated though.

  3. That sure is alotta cookbooks! Your rendang looks very thick and spicy :) I love mine the next day actually, when the beef’s all tender and easily broken into bits and pieces.

  4. You’re most welcome, darling :) You did (totally) inspire this dish, babe. My photography was so hurried with this dish coz i was sooo hungry and dying to join my dad on the patio for lunch. Anyway i’m sure this will work just as well with chicken.

    Thanks, snookydoodle! You should definitely give this a shot if you like spicy food. It’s really easy- just pound or process everything that goes into the rempah in a food processor till it comes together and half the dish is done. It’s really the long list of ingredient that looks complicated :) Besides hellooo, you’re the one that does all the pretty cakes and gorgeous cookies and you’re talking about complication here? ;)

    hey ovenhaven. Haha really? I was just thinking to myself my shelves look kinda empty (read- time to order more books from Amazon :D ) But yeah it was rather spicy and the meat was really tender. I feel like running into the kitchen and making this now, just talking about it.


  6. happygrub

     /  October 4, 2008

    omg, I have no idea how to make rendang, I figured I will only learn if I’m stuck in a desert island and there’s a cow around to slaughter will I make it. It is a lot of work, bravo Laureen.

    Hey I was thinking of awarding myself with another cookbook(random treats with no real reason behind it, haha), a sweet one, what would you recommend? Do u have any of Pierre Hermes?

  7. happygrub

     /  October 4, 2008

    Oh I completely forgot why I popped by in the first place, at least besides wanting to know what you’re up to, I gave u an award on my blog!

  8. happygrub

     /  October 4, 2008

    Ok now i’m stalking you, we seem to be making similar things again! I just posted on an Indian night and I just baked 3 orange chiffons, 1 pandan chiffon and 2 carrot cakes before hari raya with my mom and I saw your chiffon on the same day!

    By the way just out of interest do you know that chiffons keep very poorly unlike butter or pound cakes because of its low fat content, mould starts to grow on it very quickly. Butter and fruit cakes on the other hand tend to ripen and improve with age.

  9. Haha! Be glad, Zhu, that Indian food’s not on the menu when we have you and Nanda over this year end.

    Hey Farhan :D Haha, a cow to slaughter? Really? If that ever happens to me, i think i would just learn to love eating coconuts, grass or bugs. The rendang really isn’t a lot of work at all- it just takes a lot of elbow grease with all that pounding.

    Whoa, you baked all that in one day? That’s crazy! You have to post pictures of them on your site- i’ll definitely be drooling all over them and begging you for a slice. I never knew that about chiffon cakes though- they never lasted that long in my household.

    Haha you know, i do the whole reward myself just because a lot so don’t feel bad about it. Hm. For books on sweets, i don’t know if you have the ever so loved Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. If you don’t, like just about everyone out there, that comes highly recommended by me because of the wide variety of recipes she has in there ranging from cookies to party cakes and she has this disarming way of writing that makes you feel like you’re best friends with her and having a chat in the kitchen while you bake. I also love Flo Braker’s The Simple Art of Perfect Baking and Rose Levy Baranbaum’s The Cake Bible- they’re the two i go to mainly when i need a recipe that will work.

    Ooh, thanks for the award in advance. I’m hoping by right now to check it out and see what you’re been up to. See you on the other side ;)

    By the way, you know what? I’ve just totally flooded my own page. I should have just dropped you an email :D

  10. hahah, i certainly can’t wait for dinner this year end!!

  11. oel

     /  October 8, 2008

    how come i never see u make this! when did u make it never let me try :(

  12. Couple of weeks ago- before you came back i think. Who ask you to study in Sydney!

  13. This sounds so delicious! I’ve never heard of Rendang, but I love all kinds of curries! Most of the ingredients I know, but I’m not sure what candlenuts are or if I can find them here. But now I’m craving something warm and spicy with beef! :-)

  14. Hey Nicole :) Rendang’s similar to curry except that the gravy’s thicker than most curries. Candlenuts are about the same size and colour of macadamia nuts, except they look a little wrinkled. They are used mainly to thicken the gravies. You might be able to find them in the spice sections in Asian markets, usually sold in small packets although in a pinch, you could use macadamia nuts in place of them.

    It looks like this is right up your alley :) Thanks for coming by and please let me know how it worked out for you if you do try it.

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