On a holiday in Borneo last year I had the pleasure to try a local dish, called Beef Rendang, which I then found out to be one of the most famous Malaysian dishes ever. Well, it was delicious so once back in the UK I wanted to try to recreate it as best as I could. After my first attempt, I showed some photos to my Malay colleague who had very encouraging feedback saying that it certainly ‘looked authentic’.
I actually used Channel 4’s recipe, as it seemed like the most authentic and I did like the picture too. The only ingredient missing, as I had not been able to find it, was ground coriander, and I used ground cloves instead of whole ones. I also slightly modified some of the quantities, for example I used more lemon grass and less beef, and a lot less chili (I only cut a third of a large red chili instead of two whole ones!)
Once the ‘paste’ is ready, with the onions, the garlic, the chili and the spices, it goes into the big pot (I used a stew dish, works well). Initially, I was concerned by the lack of colour – in fact, as soon as you add the coconut milk, it appears very watery and kind of pale yellow… but after two and half hour cooking time, the stew has turned a nice, rich dark brown colour, with a dense sauce.
I served it with Thai fragrant rice and a gado-gado salad. My Malay friend has suggested to serve the gado gado, which is a light mix of cooked and raw vegetables such as carrots, beans, peppers and boiled eggs. I found a nice recipe for a rich peanut butter dip and I must admit, I was quite pleased with the results. Not only it did look very much like the book’s image, but it also went very well with the stew. The peanut sauce, despite its colour and consistency, was actually very nice, tangy (as it has lemon juice and soy sauce) and sweet (as you add brown sugar and peanut butter).
A successful dish, for a good family meal.