I know many parents do not like the ideas of their kids having to wear uniforms to school, but I’m the contrary. Perhaps because I wore uniform from Kindergarten all the way to high school and I think this is a common practice with K and grade school in Asia. I just think it makes life simpler without having to think about what to wear every morning and everyone pretty much wearing the same thing and same color ! That’s just me. I know of course there are cons to that as well. Uniforms don’t come cheap. But if I think about it again, as the kids get older, having to shop for back-to-school clothes are not cheap either. Today, we went to the used uniform sale at school. I thought that was a brilliant idea. Saved us lots of money. $65 for 5 polo shirts, 3 skirts, 2 long pants, and 1 dress!! They are still in great condition. The new polo shirt is going to cost us $19.99 A PIECE ! I thought we gonna burn our wallet just from buying uniforms, but thank God for used uniform sale!!
With all that said above, that means Summer is almost over! As humid as it has been… I’m not ready for Summer to be over! Perhaps I feel this way because of the winter we have here! Chill to the bones! Even my daughter said “We are grateful for Summer” Yup!! We are. Which also means, my daughter is going to full-time Kindergarten in 3 weeks time! I can write a two-page long essay about that, but let’s not! You just gonna leave this page. All I want to say is I’m already feeling this bittersweet feeling of her not having lunch at home anymore during the day and just the fact that my 6 lb 12 oz newborn is now a big girl ready to venture the world out there. I can tell you I’m going to tear up seeing her riding school bus for the first time and walking into that classroom!!! Anyway, I need a little distraction so my mind won’t wander too much. Usually cooking helps. I might not be suitable baking candidate at this point (because it might stir me up even more!) So, I decided to make this Indonesian beef rendang from scratch. I have to say I’m very happy with the result. Recipe tested several times and I think you guys will like it if you give it a try.
What the heck is Rendang you may ask ? Rendang is a very popular dish in Indonesia. Though rendang is sometimes described as being like a curry, authentic rendang is nothing like a curry. In Indonesia, rendang is made of beef most of the time (or occasionally chicken, pork, duck, or vegetables like jackfruit or cassava) slowly cooked in coconut milk and spices for several hours until almost all the liquid is gone, allowing the meat to absorb the spicy condiments.
The cooking process changes from boiling to frying as the liquid evaporates. The slow cooking process allows the meat to absorb all the spices and to become tender. It is highly aromatic and a highly popular dish among the Indonesians (that includes me) to go with rice. I can just have its rendang sauce with a bowl of rice and be content!!!
It took me few rounds of cooking this rendang before I finally kinda developed the recipe that I really like for rendang. At home, my mom can easily just go to this lady who sells all kind of ready-ground spices and if you tell her you want a rendang spice, she will formulate one right in front of you (without telling you what the spices she put in of course, that’s her secret! 😉 ). Her rendang spices is truly the best I’ve ever eaten and I still can’t come close to that and I doubted I ever will unless she gave me her secret recipe lol! However, what I came up with was pretty satisfying and comforting.
I now it’s not easy to find turmeric leaf here (at least not in Minnesota), so you can leave that out if you don’t have it. Turmeric leaf gives a really nice flavor. I somehow feel it has slightly different aroma compare to the roots.
Indonesian beef rendang (4 servings)
- 2 – 3 oz long red chilis depend on how spicy you want it to be, soaked in warm water until soft before blending, if you can’t find long red chilis, use red dried chilis
- 1 red Thai chili for some heat if you like -optional
- 1 Tbsp of shrimp paste
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 5 shallots peeled
- 1/2 inch ginger root 1 cm, peeled
- 1- inch of turmeric root or about 3 tsp ground turmeric powder 2.5 cm
- 1 1/2 inches galangal root or 4 tsp of galangal powder 4 cm, peeled
- Pinch of salt to taste
- 10 small/baby round potatoes unpeeled and washed
- 1 lb beef shank/chuck/rump – cut into big chunks
- 2 stalks of fresh lemon grass trim the stalky ends and cut into two and bruised with heavy objects
- 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves tear each leaf a bit to release flavor
- 1 turmeric leaf optional
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 5 cardamom
- 4 cups of coconut milk if using canned coconut milk, remember to shake it before opening them
- 4 Tbsp of cooking oil
- Salt to taste
Blend all the ground spices ingredients into a paste, you may need to add a little bit of the water in there to get it going
Place the potatoes in the large pot and fill up with water. Bring to a boil and then cook until the potatoes are fork-tender but don't overcook. Drain off water and leave them in the pot while preparing the rest of the thing
Preheat a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add in the cooking oil. Stir fry the ground spices until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, turmeric leaf (if using), bay leaves, cardamom, and continue to stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the meat and coconut milk, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to let it simmer gently, uncovered until all the liquid is almost gone and the coconut milk has reduced to oil, this may take about 1.5 to 2 hours or so or until the meat is tender. Have a taste towards the end of boiling to see if you need more salt
When all the liquid is gone and you have nice looking orange-color oil left, put the boiled potatoes in and stir to make sure the sauce is coating the potatoes too. Turn off the heat. Discard of the stems and leaves. The rendang tastes even better the day after.
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