Recipe: Rendang Daging (Beef)

beef rendang

Beef rendang

Rendang is a rich, thick and richly spiced meat dish which is traditionally prepared for festivities, such as Hari Raya and always present at a Malaysian wedding. The dish uses coconut milk, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric, kaffir lime, shallots and chillies to create a wonderfully fragrant, dark sauce that verges on a paste in texture. If cooked properly, dry rending can last for up to an impressive 4 weeks!


Spice Paste:

6 dried chillies, deseeded and boiled to soften (or 2tbsp chilli paste)

1 stalk fresh lemongrass, sliced finely

6 shallots, peeled and halved

5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

5g ginger, sliced

3g fresh turmeric root, sliced

1-2 Bird’s Eye chillies

white rice, to serve

For the rendang:

150g beef, cut into bite-size pieces – not too small (for a small portion that is faster to make, use tenderloin. However, if you are making a bigger batch, use stewing meat and cook for a much longer time)

3tbsp flavourless oil, such as canola, vegetable or sunflower

300ml water

200ml first-press coconut milk (you could use light coconut milk if you prefer a lighter version, but authentically prepared rending is a heavy and rich dish)

1 stalk lemongrass, bruised

1 piece galangal, bruised (be careful not to bruise so much that it falls apart) – unfortunately, you cannot replace galangal with ginger as the flavour is too pungent. Galangal is slightly sweeter and milder.

1 turmeric leaf, very finely spiced

1 kaffir lime leaf, tear or scrunch just before use to release its aromas

1 small piece asam keping (known as sour fruit and used as a souring agent. Look in your local Asian food shop, but if you cannot find this, replace with a little tamarind paste)

3/4tsp salt

1/2tsp palm sugar (or regular sugar)

3/4 cup grated fresh coconut (to make kerisik) – you can use desiccated coconut, but be aware that it will toast faster as it is already dried)


To prepare the Kerisik:

– dry fry the grated coconut in a wok, stirring constantly over a low heat until dark brown and crisp

– grind the coconut in a pestle and mortar while still hot until the oils seep out and it forms a fine-textured paste (you should get about 1tbsp of paste)

toasting fresh coconut for kerisik

toasting fresh coconut for kerisik

For the Rendang

– grind the spice paste ingredients until fine – usually done in a pestle and mortar. You can use a blender but you may need to add a little oil to keep the blades moving

Rendang spice paste

Rendang spice paste

– heat the oil over a low heat in a saucepan and add the bruised lemongrass and galangal and stir-fry until fragrant

Spice paste, lemongrass and galangal

Spice paste, lemongrass and galangal

– add the spice paste to the saucepan and cook until the oil seeps oil, stirring occasionally

– add the diced beef, followed immediately by the water and stir a little, the place on the lid and cook until the beef is tender and the gravy has reduced by about 3/4

High-quality, extremely tender beef

High-quality, extremely tender beef

– add the coconut milk, salt, palm sugar, asam keping and sliced turmeric leaves and leave to simmer until the gravy thickens again

Run the coconut milk down the spoon so you don't waste a drop of spice!

Run the coconut milk down the spoon so you don’t waste a drop of sugar and salt

– finally, add the kafir lime leaves and kerisik, then stir to combine and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes until thick and dark (this meat dish is not very ‘saucy’ so don’t worry if it looks a little dry – this is how it should be)

Add kerisik and kaffir lime leaf

Add kerisik and kaffir lime leaf

Almost ready

Almost ready

– serve with steamed white rice

(Serves 1 )

*for 1kg beef, make 4x the amount of spice paste and multiple your other ingredients)

**for chicken or vegetable rending, do not add the water. Instead go straight to the coconut milk stage as the liquid here is enough to tenderise the meat.

***for fish or prawns, prepare the gravy first, then add in the protein as the last minute until cooked through

****rendang is traditionally served with spicy cucumber salad – see recipe here.


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One comment

  1. Pingback: Authentic Malaysian Cookery at LaZat Cookery School, KL | Dine&Discover

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