My makcik - makcik (aunties) always say, when you cook traditional food, it has to be from dapur arang (charcoal fire) so the food tastes good. I have always wondered, how. How on earth is it different? I found the answer when I actually sat there by the charcoal fire while cooking my rendang. It is the smell of the burning charcoal, that heats up the beef and brings a lovely smoky aroma. Not burning, and not too intense. Just natural, I guess. For sure, it brings the idea and experience of how my grandparents or great grandparents used to cook during those days where gas stove was not available.
My mum cooks using coal fire for certain food: rendang, serunding(meat floss), ayam panggang(grilled chicken), and ofcourse, barbeques. So we have a cute little stove where it is specifically designed to use with charcoals.
Cooking rendang is pretty tedious, but the end result is very worth all the efforts put up all together. As difficult as it may seem, the ingredients are all actually easy to prepare. All the fresh purplish shallots, fresh zesty ginger and galangal, lemongrass stalks, and garlic are all roughly chopped into small pieces to blend in a food processor until smooth. And this is what you'll get: If you ask me the specific measurements - how much of this and how much of that do you need - I can say that it's a little of everything, and nothing is fixed according to the proportion. Some may prefer more onions or garlic, some like it to be very spicy while some like it tender. Some may want a more gingery note to it. You decide. I like mine medium hot with all the flavours balanced up! Whatever it is, be comfortable with your choice! Cooking is all science... in a way. :: Ingredients ::
Lots of Shallots, 1 Galangal, 1 Ginger, 5 big stalks of Lemongrass (I used about 10 because we have small slim ones growing in our garden), about 10 Garlics - roughly chop and blend them, adding about 1-2 cups water to make about 5 cups of paste. (this is for about 1 kg of beef. Prepare smaler portions for less meat)
And you need 1 big packet of fresh coconut juice as well. Use 1-2 cans, if you're using the canned one, and those from Thailand are pretty tasty. I prefer the ''lighter'' version. Again, 1 can should suffice if you cook less meat. Just pour this into a container, while you prepare other ingredients.
These fresh greens will be added in: about 20 small birds eye chili, 10 kafir lime leaf, and 2 fresh turmeric leaf. Just wash them clean and put aside for use during cooking.Rendang tastes best with beef. You can also use chicken or fish for this. Just cut the meat into bite-size chunks.
Yes, bring it on. This is the charcoal, on a stove, just so to burn it so it can stay ''alive'' on the small charcoal stove. You can always just skip this entirely and just heat up a large pot on your normal stove... :-)
See my charcoal stove? I think it is made from red clay...and not sure what else.. It's been with us so long! The charcoals are transferred into this stove, and you need to add more charcoals. And this is the best part: to take a little paper fan, and start fanning so the fire comes more aliveee!!! I think if I do this everyday, I need not exercise... The fire will start to dance and you will start to smell like charcoal. But I don't mind. I can't wait till the rendang cooks!
Now, in a large wok (or your pot) dump in the meat and paste that was prepared earlier . Add in the coconut milk. Stir.
Add in some chili bo (or chili paste) - about 3 tablespoons. Add in the fresh turmeric leaf. Let it cook along and occassionally stir the mixture. Let it continuously boil, and stir, until it evaporates and thickens. Meanwhile, enjoy the very lovely aromatic smell and get hungry!Oil will start to rise, the boiling continues, and colour turns more brownish as it thickens. Add in some salt to taste.
Cook until the broth really is thick, and almost dried. You will start to see some meat, as compared to them being drowned at the bottom of the liquid when you started cooking it. Finally, add in the kafir lime leaf and birds eye chili. Taste it. Now you have a lovely traditional Malay beef rendang to share with your loved ones!I would say preparation takes about 45 minutes, plus about 1 hour more of cooking time. So, although the preparation is simple (chop, blend, set aside), the cooking time is crucial to get the beef rendang cooked. You need to always stir it, to ensure the meat does not get overcooked, especially at the bottom part of the wok/pot.
Rendang can be eaten with rice, sticky rice, or many kinds of bread including chapati, french loaf and the usual sandwich bread.
I love rendang very, very much. And I hope you loved the pictures I posted in here too!