This recipe for slow-cooked beef in a rich lemongrass and coconut sauce is well worth the effort.
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp chopped galangal (or another tbsp of the above)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed and roughly chopped
1 tsp turmeric
6 long red dried chillies, soaked in water and roughly chopped
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
650g/1lb 7oz braising steak, cut into 2cm/1inch cubes
4 kaffir lime leaves
zest of a kaffir lime or lime
400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
1 tbsp of tamarind paste or juice of a lime
50g/2oz desiccated coconut flakes
coriander sprigs to garnish
For the rendang paste, place the onion, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric and chillies into a food processor. Blend to form a smooth purée.
Heat a wok and add the oil. Fry the paste over a high heat until the paste turns darker and is highly aromatic.
Add the cardamom pods (crush the cardamom pods gently with the back of a spoon before frying) and the cinnamon stick broken in half and cook for another minute then add the meat.
Fry the meat in the paste stirring all the time, until it is well browned.
Pour over the coconut milk and tamarind purée and bring to a gentle simmer, add the kaffir lime leaves and zest.
Season with salt, stir well then reduce to a simmer.
Cook for between one hour and one hour and a half, stirring frequently during this time. The meat should be really tender and the sauce really reduced and rich.
Meanwhile toast the coconut flakes in a dry pan. Keep a close eye on this, as it will burn really quickly. It should be a lovely deep brown colour when ready. Blend to a powder in a small blender or pound in a pestle and mortar. When the rendang is ready stir into the mixture making sure it is well mixed in.
For the herby rice, wash the rice really well under cold water, the water will run clear when it is washed enough. Allow to drip dry Heat the oil in heavy-based saucepan that has a tight fitting lid.
Add the spices and fry for a minute.
Add the rice and fry until the grains begin to turn an opaque white.
Add the water and a good pinch of salt.
Bring to the boil then allow to bubble away until nearly all the water has been absorbed and air holes are beginning to appear.
At this point pop the lid on. Leave the heat on underneath for a minute (this will create lots of steam) then allow to stand for five minutes (do not remove the lid).
Keep warm until everything else is ready. You can hold rice like this for up to half an hour.
To serve, mix the herbs into the rice and divide between four warmed serving dishes. Next spoon on the rendang, finish with a few sprigs of coriander and serve immediately, garnished with the deep-fried shallots and chilli.
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