Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Recipe - Beef rendang

I came across food blogs about a year and a half ago. I was reading a Guardian word of mouth article about how to make perfect pasta and followed a link to Food Stories' ragu and gremolata. Then I found others and started using those in my recipe searches. I usually 'make up' recipes by looking up various versions and taking the bits I like from each. Like a colonialist. Except not. I have colonialists on the mind. Before my recipe search was confined to BBC Food and C4 recipes. Also Google. Actually, I'd definitely come across food blogs before but didn't quite think through what they are. I suppose I should clarify that the beginning of the post was probably when I started using food blogs for inspiration. Anyway, on one of my inspiration days, I came across beef rendang on Hollow Legs. Doesn't it look delicious? I both wanted to cook it and eat it at a restaurant so I could gauge if it tasted as it looks. So you can see how I might get excited to learn that Rasa Sayang Express at the Tottenham Court road end of Oxford Street provides it for about £6. I discovered this when I was staying near there for legal work experience mark one. But I never got to eat there. Oh, at this point I should mention I love walking around in London with my little A to Z. So when I made the journey from Oxford to see the Farringdon flat, I used my little A to Z to plan to walk between Marble Arch and Farringdon Road. And then get that for dinner on the walk back. It did not disappoint. Fiery and hot and packed full of unctuous umami. I almost dropped it all when the bus jerked. That's what happened to the sushi of the woman in front of me. Then a few months later, I tried to recreate it. I went to great lengths to get some galangal. Mine was disappointing. I lamented and asked someone for advice on how to make things taste. Almost like I was asking someone how to feel. But not, obviously. But it was very dramatic. You should be imagining me with a wide-eyed look of despair and exasperation. Anyway, you can see how much beef rendang has featured in my food history (ha, ha). So I was telling someone all about it because it was on my mind because I'd already planned to go there on the way back from Prague to Oxford (Stansted - Liverpool Street - Rasa Sayang Express - Marble Arch - Oxford). But unfortunately it was closed. I was so disappointed. And so hungry. And tired. But it's OK because McDonalds had its Big Tasty burger in and my God, I know Maccy Ds is shit but the Big Tasty is amazing. I described it as the burger in Plato's world of perfect forms. I've definitely talked about that before in this blog. I think I've also talked enough in this particular blog post. Basically, I'm mad for rendang and was telling someone about how mad I am for rendang then mentioned that I'd cook it for them. I've had to reassess what the first time reference should be several times over the course of this post. I should take more care with my photos.
Beef Rendang
1 onion
5 small shallots
4 stalks lemongrass
1 inch galangal
2 inches ginger
6 cloves garlic
2 hot red chillies

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or chop finely and pound to a paste.

1 tsp coriander
2 bay leaves
5 kaffir lime leaves
3 cloves
2 star anise
1kg diced beef braising steak
1 tsp tamarind purée
1 tin coconut milk

Fry the onion mixture in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil on a low heat.
Once very fragrant and soft, after about ten minutes, add the spices and beef and one teaspoon of salt and fry at a medium simmer.
Add the tamarind purée, coconut milk and heat at a low simmer for an hour and a twenty minutes.
Put the heat up to a high simmer and stir frequently for about forty minutes.
Towards the end, the beef will darken and flake and the liquid will mostly evaporate.

I served this with chappati and rice and some caramelised red onion and chopped green finger chilli.

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