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Sunday September 13, 2009

Must-have rendang

No other dish is more sought after than the beef rendang, which is truly popular during Hari Raya.

COME Syawal 1 every year, the most important dish on the festive table is rendang, which is normally taken with rice, lemang and ketupat.

Every family has its own secret recipe, and every state in Malaysia has one method for cooking rendang that is peculiar to it!

Northern delight: Chef Ros Jualiana preparing the Kerutub Daging, a speciality of Kelantan.

As such, there are numerous versions of this delectable and traditional dish that basically requires hours of cooking over the stove until the desired effect is achieved, that is, dry or in a rich and thick gravy.

All said and done, this flavourful but cholesterol-laden dish is a must for hosts and guests alike.

Sunday Metro has compiled some popular rendang recipes that readers may want to try out. We found the instant rendang paste a helpful ingredient for those who are just beginning to find their way around this tasty dish.

Kerutub Daging (Kelantan)

Peculiar to Kelantan and also its neighbour, Terengganu, this is a dish that is prepared in most homes for Hari Raya. With fork-tender meat that has been cooked in a special blend of spices, the kerutub is especially good with nasi minyak and other rice dishes, and even plain white rice.

This version of the kerutub was dished up by executive chef Ros Juliana Mohamed Daud of The Apartment restaurant, which has outlets at Suria KLCC and The Curve.

Ros Juliana, 42, who has been cooking Kelantanese food commercially for the past 15 years, also shared some tips to turn out the perfect dish.

“When cooking the kerutub, make sure the meat is cooked in spices with a little water until it is tender before adding the coconut milk.

“You must also remember not to add the palm sugar too early as this will toughen the meat,” she said.

The spices, if possible, should be specially purchased from the Kelantan wet markets, as these contain the exact formula that would yield tasty and good kerutub, she added.

Kerutub Daging

1kg beef, chicken or lamb (washed and cut as desired)
200g shallots (finely sliced)
150g rempah kerutub
50g dried chillies – blended

Slice finely:

2 cloves garlic
2.5cm ginger
1.5cm galangal (lengkuas)
5 stalks lemongrass (serai)

Spices - cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamon

Kerisik (toasted coconut) from ½ coconut

300ml coconut cream
2 cups water
1 cup cooking oil
1 tbsp palm sugar
Salt to taste

In a wok, heat the cooking oil, then fry the ingredients that have been finely sliced with the spices. When the ingredients are a little crisp, add the rempah kerutub and a little water. When the oil rises to the surface, add the meat and cook for a while.

Add the remaining water and let the dish simmer until the meat is tender. Add the coconut cream, palm sugar, salt and kerisik and cook until it is a little dry and the oil rises again.

Instant rendang

This is the easiest of the lot! Supermarkets are bound to stock several brands of rendang paste and complete instant rendang dishes. Often available in aluminium pouches, the latter just needs to be reheated either by putting the whole packet in boiling water or tipping the contents in a plate to be microwaved.

We used the Adabi rendang paste for this recipe. Other brands that offer rendang paste are Maggi, Adami, Sri Lazat, Mak Nyonya, Sri Tunjung and Brahim’s, to name a few.

We added a few more ingredients, instead of just using the instant paste, to come up with a tastier version.

Instant Rendang

1kg meat – cut as desired
3 packets instant rendang paste
15 shallots (finely sliced)
3 stalks lemongrass - bruised
300ml coconut cream
2 cups water
1 tbsp cooking oil
Kerisik

Heat the oil in a wok and sauté the shallots, lemongrass and the instant rendang paste. When fragrant and the oil rises to the surface, add the meat and brown it. Add the coconut cream and water. Lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly until the meat is soft. Add the kerisik and cook until the gravy is thick or dry, according to your preference.

Opor Daging (Pahang)

Opor Daging (otherwise just Opor) is a traditional dish from the royal town of Pekan in Pahang. It has its origins in the Riau Islands and was traditionally made using buffalo meat, which gives the cooked dish a dark colour. The meat, when cooked, has a rich red tint.

It is usually served at weddings and major functions and the most authentic version is still served at the Sultan Abu Bakar Palace in Pekan. The spices are easily available in Pahang and though there are many different producers, the ones made in Pekan are the best.

The following recipe is by Shahzan Inn Kuantan general manager Datuk Chew Teck Fang.

Opor Daging

1kg beef
40g opor spices
80g pounded fried grated coconut
200ml coconut milk
40g garlic
120g onion
40g lemongrass
40g galangal
40g ginger
20g dried chillies
2 pieces cardamom
3cm cinnamon
2 pieces star anise
2 pieces dry tamarind
80ml palm sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1 cup water
Salt to taste

Cut the beef into chunky pieces. Blend the ginger, lemongrass, onion, garlic, dry chilli and galangal.

Heat the oil and fry the blended ingredients, opor spices, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise until golden brown. Add water and coconut milk and stir well.

Add the beef, pounded fried grated coconut, palm sugar, salt and seasoning, chicken stock and dried tamarind. Stir occasionally for about 15 minutes and simmer until the meat is cooked through.

Rendang Tok (Recipe courtesy of Safura Atan)

Rendang Tok is a very dark, dry beef rendang famous throughout Perak. It has the most extensive list of ingredients and is believed to be created by royal cooks who had the means to acquire spices normally out of the reach of the general populace. Indian influences can be seen in the addition of spices used in curries. One of the unique characteristics of Rendang Tok is that it contains shards of dry-fried coconut flesh. This gives it an extra lemak taste. You must take your time to enjoy this rendang and not cast aside the floss-like stuff sticking to the beef. Instead, roll it on the tongue and feel it melting in the mouth, leaving behind a taste of galangal, lemongrass, gula Melaka and … dark chocolate! Perak also has a simpler rendang dish, the Rendang Pedas, which is similar to Rendang Johor – minus the belacan.

50g cumin
50g coriander seeds
40g fennel seeds

Spice paste

150g shallots
100g galangal, sliced
30g ginger, sliced
30g fresh turmeric root, sliced
40g dried red chillies, seeded and soaked
40g garlic
100ml oil
5cm cinnamon stick
4 star anise
10 cloves
30g black peppercorns, crushed
1kg beef, cut into cubes
1 litre thick coconut milk
3 stalks lemongrass, crushed
1 tsp sugar or to taste
2 tsp salt or to taste
250g freshly grated coconut, dry roasted and pounded to make kerisik
200g coconut shavings, dry-roasted until lightly browned
2 turmeric leaves, roughly torn

In a dry wok or pan, fry the coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cumin separately until aromatic. Grind all the seeds together until powdery. Set aside.

Blend the spice paste ingredients finely.

Heat the oil in a wok over low heat. Fry the cinnamon, star anise and cloves until fragrant. Add the spice paste, peppercorns and the ground coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cumin. Cook, stirring, until fragrant – about five to 10 minutes.

Add the beef, coconut milk and crushed lemongrass. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until gravy is thick and beef is tender. Season to taste with sugar and salt. Add the kerisik, toasted coconut shavings and turmeric leaves. Lower heat and cook, stirring continuously, until rendang is dry and oil appears.

Rendang Paru (Recipe courtesy of Doni Usman)

This is a typical dish in Padang, Indonesia, that is usually eaten during Ramadan. Although the recipe may not be elaborate, bear in mind that it takes quite a long time to cook so make sure you have enough time for this. The dish goes really well with white rice. Squirt some lime juice for an extra zing.

Ingredient A

600g paru (lungs) boiled
100g liver, boiled and grated
1500ml coconut cream from two and a half coconuts
2 lemongrass (only the white section), crushed
2 turmeric leaves
4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
3 asam jawa
2 salam leaves
2cm ginger

Ingredient B

10 dried red chillies
4 red chillies
5 red onions
2 salam leaves
2 cloves garlic
6cm lengkuas
2cm ginger
3½ tbsp salt
2 tbsp red sugar

Boil the paru in 1 litre of water. Add in 2 salam leaves and 2cm ginger until they are cooked. Put aside.

Boil the coconut cream, Ingredient B, 2 turmeric leaves, 4 kaffir lime leaves and 3 asam jawa until they are fully boiled. Add in the paru mix and put the fire on low. Leave to cook until half dry then add in the liver. Stir until it is completely dry. This recipe is for seven portions.

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