Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Beef Rendang (Malaysian/Indonesian Beef Stew)

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 9, 2012

This is arguably the most iconic dish of Indonesia, Malaysia and the surrounding regions.  Even for a non beef lover like me,  this is an amazingly satisfying dish because it tickles every taste bud on your tongue, the sweet, sour, salty, spicy and the Umami (I am told there is also a fat receptor on your tongue, but I haven’t heard about this in a while). I have tried making rendang before and did not like the results.  This recipe from Rasa Malaysia, however, is perfect.  I made only one or two substitutions:  I swapped out lemon zest for Kaffir lime leaves and added extra ginger for galanga, simply because the grocery store did not have these items, but this should be done only in a pinch.  I don’t have a powerful blender and the lemongrass stalks did not get fully pureed in the food processor.  I found the lemon grass chunks annoying while I ate, so I am going to try either just bruising and then taking out the lemon grass or some other substitutes,  like lemon essence and lime juice.  Sorry,  I am not a purist and just want the food to taste good.


1 1/2 pound boneless beef short ribs, cut into cubes  (I could not find the boneless stuff, so used 2.5 lbs of bone in short ribs)
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch long)
3 cloves, whole
3 star anise, whole
3 cardamom pods, lightly crush
1 lemongrass (cut into 4-inch length and pounded)
1 cup thick coconut milk (decant the top half of a can without mixing)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds ).  You can use 1 tsp of tamarind concentrate
6 kaffir lime leaves (very finely sliced)  or zest of 2 limes (a poor substitute, but will do in a pinch)
6 tablespoons kerisik (toasted coconut, see below)
1 tablespoon sugar/palm sugar or to taste (brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)
Salt to taste

Spice Paste:

5 shallots
1 inch galangal (I substituted 1″ginger, do this only if you have  to)
3 lemongrass stalks (white part only)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
10-12 dried chilies (soaked in warm water and seeded)  (I used a single fresh Fresno pepper: my gang here would not go for this level of heat, although I would love it)


  1. Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until fine.
  2. Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry them until aromatic.
  3. Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.
  5. Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar/palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.
  6. Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up.
  7. Add salt to taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.
  8. Serve immediately with steamed rice and save some for overnight.

Toasted Coconut: 

  1. To prepare the kerisik or toasted coconut, just add the grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuosly until its turns golden brown.  You can buy fresh frozen coconut at any Indian Grocery Store and toast it for a few min on a cast iron griddle.  It can burn very easily, so be vigilant.

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