"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Supper tonight, courtesy of a recipe from my good chum and food writer, William Leigh, for Beef Rendang, that staple of Malaysian home cooking with its unique mix of Indian and South East Asian influences.

It takes time to prepare and time to cook and the last few moments, as the sauce begins to split to release the coconut oil in which the meat fries to a perfect brown, are a little on the hairy side. But, hold your nerve and the end result is spectacularly worthwhile, with layers of flavour from the coconut milk, lime leaves, chilli and a last flavouring with fish sauce releasing on the tongue one after the other.

William has been kind enough to let me share his recipe, which I tweaked a little for my own tastes


6-10 Thai Chillis depending on how hot you like it
1 inch ginger
1 inch galangal
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp brown sugar

1kg stewing beef ( cut in 2in cubes)

2 tins coconut milk
1 tins worth of water
Stalk lemongrass
Lime leaves
1 bay leaf
2tbs fish sauce
Juice of a lime

Whizz the paste ingredients with a little water to a smooth paste.

Add to a large pan or wok with the lime leaves, bashed lemongrass stalk, bay leaf and coconut milk.

Add the beef to this and let it bubble slowly for an hour and a half.

Turn the heat up and cook until all the coconut milk has almost gone. This will take a while, maybe 45 mins to 1 hour, and it will look strange while it's doing it. Eventually it will start to colour and the oil will come out of the coconut milk completely.

The beef will fry in this oil and turn quite dark brown and rather flaky - then you're done

Turn off the heat and stir though the fish sauce and lime juice.

I served with chapatti and a salad of red onion, cucumber and tomato dressed with lime juice and zest.

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Blogger William Leigh said...

I know the fish sauce and lime juice are a break from tradition but they really perk up the dish I think. A last minute spot of seasoning. Will try with your spicing of cuming next time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008 11:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it better to "crack" the coconut cream/milk before you add the spice paste? This means you fry the paste in the oil that has been released rather than boiling the paste. Frying the paste should result in a better flavour.

Friday, December 12, 2008 7:47:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

you could be right, but I dry fried the spice paste first until the spices released their oils, so the didn't just boil in the milk. There's plenty of flavour in the end result



Friday, December 12, 2008 8:18:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks delicious. Does the beef go in raw or do you seal it first?

Friday, December 12, 2008 12:08:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Like a lot of curry style dishes, you don't need to seal the meat, it just goes in raw. It cooks for such a long time and the frying when the oil comes out of the coconut milk ensure the great colour


Friday, December 12, 2008 12:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very tempted to try this questions, what quantity of lime leaves do you use?

Sunday, December 14, 2008 11:12:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

I just used about three tsp worth. The Waitrose frozen ones seem quite intense


Sunday, December 14, 2008 12:32:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did this for a boozy lunch with friends yesterday and it was declared an absolute triumph. Beautifully tender, unctuous beef and just the right amount of heat – the fish sauce really helps bring the whole dish together at the end.

Anonymous, I used four lime leaves and that seemed fine.

Cheers for the inspiration and guidance, Hermano - I'm now hoping the new literary adventure will come replete with recipes.

Monday, December 15, 2008 12:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe and the lime leaf guidance. It was apparently one of the best things I had ever cooked according to the girlfriend! Definitely one to do again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 11:55:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you - great recipe... the method of reducing coconut milk and then frying in the oil at the end was quite new to me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008 10:14:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By 'eck, lad, this is grand! I'm eating it as I type. Took some courage to let the browning come at the end, but it was worth it. Straight in the recipe book, this one. Muchas gracias, hermano.

Saturday, March 14, 2009 8:26:00 pm  
Blogger curlywurlyfi said...

Simon, this was great - made it last night (did the simmering bit in the slow cooker then finished off in frying pan). I fried mine a little further than yours for really crisp beef, but still melting on the inside (the beef, not me). Really, really good.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:16:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

All credit to William for the recipe, but delighted it is being tried and enjoyed


Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:50:00 am  
Blogger Johnny said...

cooked this about 4 times now, and currently letting it cook for a 5th time as i speak. can't wait, such a delicious recipe. goes great with Helen Graves sides of raita and minted crispy onion

Saturday, May 08, 2010 7:45:00 pm  

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