A classic Malay dish of beef braised in coconut milk and Asian aromatics often served as an accompaniment to Nasi Lemak (coconut rice).
4-6 Cloves of garlic
3-4 stalks of lemongrass
1 inch knob of galangal
3 inch knob of ginger
1 Cinnamon stick
2 cans of coconut Milk
1 1/2 cups of desiccated Coconut
2 – 3 lbs Stewing beef
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Mince the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, galangal and ginger in a food processor or mortar and pestle.
2. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Saute the above mixture until fragrant and the oil begins to separate – do not allow to burn.
3. Add the stewing beef and lightly brown with the shallot mixture.
4. Add coconut milk and slowly raise the heat to a boil and immediately turn it down so that it sustains a very light simmer. Simmer until most of the liquid from the coconut milk has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper towards the end of this stage.
5. While waiting for the stew to simmer its liquids away, lightly toast the desiccated coconut in a toaster oven until a deep tan color – the color transitions quickly into a burnt brown so keep a careful eye on the toaster. Remove the coconut from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
6. Pulverize the toasted coconut in a mortar and pestle or food processor. If using the former, the coconut is ready when a shimmer of oil forms on the coconut. If using a food processor, pulverize as finely as possible.
7. Add the coconut to the braising beef and heat through, approximately 5 minutes, before serving.
8. As with most stews and braises, the rendang tastes better if prepared 24 hours in advance although this is entirely optional.
Note: As with most Malaysian dishes, the quantities specified are often approximations. I’ve observed my mother make this dish a number of times and adapted those observations to approximations denoted in the above recipe.