The fat rendered from beef rendang

The fat rendered from beef rendang

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

This dish explores the potential of the traditional beef rendang recipe for creating highly coloured, flavourful fat and unctuous shredded meat. I’ve tried to lighten the presentation of this dish and counter the comforting (but occasionally cloying) richness that can weigh down some Malaysian Nyonya cooking.

For the beef


Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves
500g fatty beef brisket

For the paste

Quantity Ingredient
6 red asian shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2cm piece of galangal, peeled and sliced
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
3.5cm piece of turmeric, peeled and sliced
1 lemongrass stem, peeled of tough outer layer, sliced
10 dried chillies, soaked in water for 30 minutes, deseeded and chopped

For braising the beef

Quantity Ingredient
20g tamarind, softened in 200 ml water
2 teaspoons gula melaka, grated or thinly sliced
2 teaspoon salt
550ml coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted coconut


  1. Marinate the beef:
  2. Grind the spices to a fine powder. Cut the beef into large cubes and toss with the spice mix, rubbing it in well. Leave overnight in the refrigerator, covered.
  3. Make the paste:
  4. If choosing to use a mortar and pestle, start with the first ingredient and pound it thoroughly before adding the next. Work your way like this until all the ingredients have been ground to a fine paste. If puréeing in a food processor, use a little water to help with getting the paste as smooth as possible.
  5. Braise the beef:
  6. Preheat the oven to 160°C. To extract the tamarind water, pass it through a fine sieve, firmly pressing the solids into the sieve. Discard the solids. Dissolve the palm sugar and salt in the tamarind water. Combine the paste, tamarind mixture and coconut milk in a large flameproof pot and add the beef. Bring to the boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so. Remove the lid and cook further until it looks like a thick, oily but fragrant mass. At this stage it will probably stick to the bottom so make sure the mixture is stirred frequently. When the meat is spoon soft (about another 2 hours) take out of the oven.
  7. Assemble the dish:
  8. Mix the toasted coconut into the beef. Taste and adjust the seasoning so that it’s sour, salty, hot and slightly sweet. Serve as is or, alternatively, shred the beef after you have taken it out of the oven. Use a large spoon to scoop up any fragrant oil that remains and mix with the toasted coconut.
  9. This now becomes like a condiment and, as a suggestion, it could be served with a meal of green papaya cooked in chicken stock, grilled okra, lime leaf, boiled peanuts, Vietnamese mint and thin slices of steamed eggplant.
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