Thursday, 15 March 2007

The Secret of Great Rendang

Every Singaporean will eventually come to this somewhere in their blogs. Especially an overseas one. FOOD....sorry, I meant Super Shiok FOOD.

Having settled so many thousands of miles from any decent Nasi Padang Stall I had to come up with my own version of the comfort food (yes, Nasi Padang is naturally on top of this girl's list).

Couldn't have managed it without this surprising cookbook. Written by an ang moh no less called Wendy Hutton. The title of it is Wendy Hutton's Singapore Food - A spicy journey through the history and wizardry of Singapore cooking. Published in 1979, it's probably out of print by now. But because it was written that many years ago, she captured accurately the flavours of Singaporean favourites, like acar, loh mee, ikan assam pedas and beef rendang. I've tried it and to my taste-buds' gobsmacked surprise, it smelled & tasted frighteningly authentic.

It is an educational and amusing read. Especially because it was written by someone trying to be culturally sensitive in an age so politically incorrect. Still it is written with a real desire to help keep real bits of the Singaporean heritage, and for that, Wendy Hutton my stomach & I will be eternally grateful

And so I put this yummie recipe for Beef Rendang up for your salivating perusal. Especially for my friends at The Urban Tea Merchant in West Vancouver who were subjected to my culinary experiments those many winter months.

~ Beef in Spicy Coconut Gravy ~
500g (1lb) topside beef
6-8 shallots or 1 medium red onion
3 slices lengkuas (or galangal)
2.5cm (1in) fresh ginger
16-20 dried chillis, soaked
2 stalks lemongrass
1 clove garlic
6 tbsp freshly grated coconut or
4 tbsp desiccated coconut
2.5 tbsp oil
2.5 cups coconut milk
1 fresh tumeric leaf shredded (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

1. Cut beef into pieces about 5c m (2 in) square and 1 cm (0.5 in) thick.
2. Grind the shallots, lengkuas, ginger, chillies, lemongrass and garlic together until fine.
3 Gently fry the grated coconut in a dry pan, stirring constantly, until golden brown.
4. Allow to cool slightly then pound to a paste.
5. Heat oil in a wok and gently fry the ground shallot mixture for 4-5 minutes.
6. Add pounded coconut and fry for another minute, then put in beef and sit-fry till it changes colour.
7. Add all other ingredients and stir, lifting the coconut milk and pouring it back into the wok until it come to a boil.
8. Reduce heat & simmer, uncovered until the meat is tender. If the sauce threatens to dry out before the meat is cooked, add a little hot water.
9. The sauce should finally reduce so that all that remains is a very thick coating on the meat. The oil will come out of the coconut milk and the meat will start to fry in it.

But the secret.......the real secret to making good rendang really great rendang is something called Hacks cough drops. HUH? You can't mean that black sweet wrapped in orange paper! But yes I do indeedie.

During my trip to Penyengat, Bintan to visit Ibu Raja Zainab, she came out with it. Her secret ingredient for the shiokest rendang I've EVER tasted, her rendang.... Black Hacks cough drops. Yes, just substitute 2 sweets per 1 tsp of sugar and you have the secret to great rendang.



marsha said...

You are SO going to give me a major gastric attack with this post! =D Good one!

Veron said...

Hacks cough drops? Really??? Gotta try this one out . Hmmm!! I can just taste the super yummy rendang!!!!!