Beef Rendang Malaysian-style curry

, from Issue #37. August, 2015
Photography by Manja Wachsmuth.
Beef Rendang Malaysian-style curry

Fragrant and full of flavour, this beef rendang recipe is best served with roti for mopping up the delicious sauce.


Serves: 6


1½ kilograms chuck steak
2 stalks lemongrass
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2½ cups coconut cream
3 whole star anise
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1½ teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup shredded coconut

1 teaspoon balachan (dried shrimp paste)
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2-3 long fresh red chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

To serve
½ cup shredded coconut, toasted
hot, cooked jasmine rice


Paste: Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Wrap the shrimp paste in aluminium foil and roast for 10 minutes or alternatively hold the foil-wrapped paste over the gas flame of your hob for a few minutes, turning it often to toast both sides evenly. Put the roasted balachan with all the other ingredients in a food processor and process to form a paste.

Cut the chuck steak into 5 cm pieces. Trim the lemongrass to 10 cm and remove the tough outer leaves. Use only the bulb end.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the paste for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the meat, turning to coat it in the paste then add all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently, uncovered, for 2 hours until the meat is tender and the liquid has reduced, stirring regularly. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the oil separates from the sauce. Stir the meat constantly but gently to brown it in the oil but don’t let it catch and burn on the base of the pan, or stir it so vigorously that the meat breaks apart. The sauce should have reduced significantly at this point and be very thick.

To serve: Transfer the rendang to a serving bowl and sprinkle with coconut. 

Pantry Note
Balachan or Blachan: a pungent paste made from dried and fermented shrimp, sardines and other small fish that is salted, mashed and formed into cakes. Used to flavour many dishes in South East Asia. Available at Asian supermarkets.