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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coconut milk beef stew

 Delicious Indonesian beef stew, beef rendang, adopted for western ingredients. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words; in this case one whiff is worth a thousand pictures: your house will smell amazing all day!
Source: Adapted from Singapore Shiok and No Recipes

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5)

- 1.5 lb sirloin steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 shallots
- 1/2 tsp ground chili pepper
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp chili sauce
Total: 4 servings

1. Discard the outer leaves of the lemon grass, keep only the white part. Finely chop the lemongrass, the garlic and the shallots. Place in the food processor. Add the salt, coriander, turmeric, ginger, chili pepper and process until you have a smooth paste. You might need to scrub the sides a few times.
2. Preheat a frying pan on medium heat and saute the paste until fragrant (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove the paste in a bowl, do not wash the frying pan.
3. Add oil to the frying pan and in batches, not to overcrowd the pan, fry the meat until browned on all sides (about 3-4 mintues on each side). Remove the ready batches and keep in the same bowl with the paste.
4. Return the paste and the meat to the frying pan and add the coconut milk. Stir well, and let cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until simmers. Add sugar, lemon juice and chili paste, stir, reduce the heat to low, cover with the lead and let cook for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
5. By the time the beef is ready the liquid will have almost completely evaporated. Serve with rice.

- I love beef rendang, and this was probably the best one I've had. The beef was super tender and the sauce was amazing. And the house smells delicious for the rest of the day.
- The original recipes required some exotic vegetables that I could not find, like kaffir lime leaves and galangal, so I had to find substitutes. Also, I like my beef rendang very mild, so I significantly reduced the chili component, and increased the coconut milk. Also, I used a different cut of meat and smaller cubes, so I decreased cooking time.

- It is really challenging to grind lemongrass into a paste, because it's extremely fibrous. You might need to add water to your food processor, but even that might not necessarily help. The last time I made this stew I first chopped the lemongrass, then ground it in a meat / food grinder, then added water and processed in a blender. It was a very lengthy process but this was the first time I did not have lemongrass fibers in my food. I think next time I will prepare a large batch of lemongrass, and then make lemongrass paste cubes and freeze them for future use, similarly to roasted garlic cubes.