17 November 2013
Supermarkets of Mystery ~ Bamboe Rendang Beef Stew - Indonesian
We don't really cook that much at the Street Food secret headquarters. There's only a few things that we really find worthwhile cooking at home instead of going out for and if we have the time this rendang mix is worth all the effort. Yes we could make our own spice paste (and we have in the past) but often this mix is as good as doing it yourself. Cue pitchforks and screaming villagers crying heresy.
It is a little bit of a rarity that this mix actually does only contain the aromatics and some oil to bind it all, there are no preservatives or colouring and it is halal. Shallots, garlic, salt, coriander, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and pepper are combined in palm oil. You can add some additional flavours to freshen it up, a bit of lemon rind or some curry leaves or more chilli make a good addition.
The directions call for 500g of beef. If you want to go to the effort of making this I recommend you double the meat and use two packets of the spice mix. I also prefer to use chuck steak on the bone as the bones cooking in the broth add more flavour, and they can be taken out when the meat is super soft. One of the benefits of buying your meat at a butcher is not only access to cheap cuts, but that they will saw up the piece through the bones so you can cut up the meat at home.
You can also use chicken or gizzards which wouldn't take as long to cook. In Sumatra it's common to get this made from ox, the long cooking time making the big beast easier to eat.
The meat is cut into some smaller pieces and put in a large pot and covered with water. I always feel like I should brown the meat first, but after consulting a couple of other recipes it doesn't seem to be required.
Cook the meat for an hour, until it is starting to get tender.
Time to add in the spice mix. The instructions say to cook for another 30 minutes but I give it another good hour, or until the meat is really starting to fall off the bones.
Once you add the mix the food in the pot will go a lovely red colour and the smell is going to drive you crazy with hunger for the next few hours. It's also a good time to add any other aromatics you might want, some lemon rinds, lemongrass stalks or curry leaves would work. Leave the lid off from now on.
Another hour has gone by, the meat is really tender now. Add in the coconut milk or cream.
Two cups of liquid as recommended in the recipe is a lot, so I use coconut cream which adds a lot of flavour without the liquid. This is the smallest container of coconut cream I've ever seen, only 65 mls, perfect for this dish.
Try not to stir the dish too much, but the liquid will really be reduced and you will start to see the beef shredding up a little. If you use more coconut milk, you would see a lot more oil bubbling on the surface. We like to have a dryer style of rendang, similar to a Sumatran style, so we really reduce it down. Turn off the heat and let it cool a little.
One of the more unusual food souvenirs we brought back from Indonesia was a packet of brown paper food wrappers you find between your plate and your food. I can't help but use these whenever we make some Indonesian style food at home. No washing up!
Lastly, serve up the rendang with a veggie side dish, rice, salad or sambal and a compulsory half boiled egg.
We also freeze this up into some smaller portions, a good idea because we can't stop eating this once it's made.
The Bamboe range is available at most Asian food stores. It's inexpensive at around 80c to a dollar a pack.