Rich Malay Coconut Beef
Rich Malay Coconut Beef is called Rendang by the locals. It is full of fragrance and flavor, even though most versions including this one do not contain dried spices. Adding kaffir lime leaves seems to be a more recent practice among Singaporean Malays, though the use of turmeric and kerisik (pounded toasted coconut) are very traditional. Turmeric leaves are often hard to obtain, but the dish will still taste good if you have to omit them.
- 1¼ lb topside beef, cut into 1½ x ¾-inch thick squares
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar, or more to taste
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 fresh turmeric leaves, torn into 3-4 pieces (optional)
- 2 stems lemon grass, bottom 5-6 inches only, bruised
- 2 tsp tamarind pulp, soaked in ¼ cup water, squeezed and strained for juice
- 10-12 dried chilies, cut into ¾-inch lengths, soaked to soften
- 12 shallots, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1-inch knob galangal, chopped
- ¾-inch knob ginger, chopped
- ¾-inch fresh turmeric, chopped or ½ tsp turmeric powder
- To make the seasoning paste, process all the ingredients in spice grinder until fine, adding a little coconut milk if required to keep the blades turning.
- Put the seasoning paste, coconut milk, salt, sugar, kaffir lime leaves, turmeric leaves, if using, lemon grass and tamarind juice, into a wok or deep sauté skilled and bring slowly to a boil, scooping up the liquid with a ladle and pouring it back constantly to help prevent it curdle.
- Add the meat and simmer uncovered, stirring from time to time, until tender and the coconut milk has greatly reduced, about 1 hour. Discard the leaves and lemon grass and keep cooking until the oil separates from the coconut milk and the meat starts to fry, about 10-12 minutes. Serve hot with steamed or fried rice.