Beef Rendang the FOOL PROOF WAY
Being Malaysian, rendang is somewhat a dish I take a lot of pride in, however in many cases, many of the rendang available are either too bland and too liquid, too tough or just a big fat yuck! To make things worse, with many of the upcoming generation being too chicken in the kitchen, get it??
Erm anyways, with that phenomenon, I fear that rendang will one day be no longer in the Malaysian Repertoire and a world where people make rendang out of ready made packs, also known as the Apocalypse if you didn’t know that already.
Hence, I’ve taken up the responsibility to create a fool/ dummy/ idiot/ moron “you get the point” proof way of making rendang at home!
Also note that i’ll be featuring palm oil another local Malaysian treasure in this recipe.
Speaking about palm oil, Malaysia is currently the largest exporter of palm oil in the WORLDDDD, yet we aren’t really seeing them be used at home. The palm oil you and I get at the supermarket is mixed with canola oil to be exact 80% canola and 20% palm oil, which i can understand why some people don’t use it, cause it tastes like crude oil. However, it also means that the oil has a higher smoke point which means you can brown meat and sauteed without producing any funky flavors! Plus, this is subtle, but if you have a sensitive palette, you can still taste faint amounts of fruity notes in the oil itself, nothing to brag but it’s fantastic when you make chili oils as it boosts the fruity notes in the chili itself!
In this rendang recipe, the palm oil is mainly in decreasing priority: Browning, Color and subtle boost in fruity compounds in chili.
Back to the rendang, note that i’ll be only covering certain point not mentioned in the video, so if you want the recipe go check out this : https://youtu.be/KxyO_TFxRIk
The main components to a good rendang include: the cut of meat used, the aromatic paste blend, the spice blend and then the coconut.
Let’s talk about the cut of meat, be it chicken or any other sort of animal, prime cuts are tender while tough cuts are what da ya know, tough! However in terms of flavor tough cuts when cooked low and slow not only becomes tender and juicy but it has waaaaaaaaaaaaay more flavor compared to any lean cut. Hence for my beef rendang, i’m using Stew cuts specifically 200g of oxtail and 600 g of shin beef, (*note that you can use a stewing hen for a chicken rendang, though you might want to change the spices to tone it down a bit). Yes i agree that they are some versions using sirloin or even ribeye, those work and they are fassst, but in terms flavorrr, meehhh.
Note that the meat was browned whereas in many traditional rendang, they’re just added to fried spice and aromatic blend, what we’re trying to achieve with browning is the Mailard reaction, where sugars and proteins under high heat form finger licking good crusts on the surface of the meat, more of that color means more in depth flavor you will have in your rendang, and to from that crust, you need a strong oil, that’s where palm oil comes in, get the picture now?
Now, the aromatic spice blend that i use has a higher onion to other aromatics ratio than most recipes, but the onions cooked down gives an extremely comfortable sweet flavor to the dish. Blended, they not only cook quickly, they brown, yes the same reaction with the beef, now with the aromatics.
Spices like cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and star anise i left whole, because you don’t want them to overpower the dish, as for the ground spices (coriander, cumin and black pepper), they’re more like supporting roles for the aromatics itself.
Try not to substitute the coconut milk with other substitutes, it just doesn’t give the same texture for the rendang.
Palm sugar is very complex in flavor, you can use brown sugar, but it won’t be the same!
Now as for why i chose to bake it instead of the traditional stay by the wok and stir method, seems self explanatory but there’s more than needs the eye, yes it’s much less taxing for the cook but the oven is transfering heat from all directions via convection whereas a stove top has only 1 heat direction input making hot spots and a higher chance of burning if you’re not careful.
As for the smoked paprika, just a little as a garnish would bring you to those kenduri filled days with charcoal fire cooking the rendang of the day, that unmistakable smell of smoke really hits the spot!
Now ending with palm oil, as mentioned in the video, it’s actually very nutritionally beneficial to you, its’ red color comes from the carotenoids present in the fruit. Carotenoid itself is a precursor to forming vitamin A in your body, it’s responsible for your eye sight, your immune system and many other biological function. Not to mention, the oil itself has tocotrienols, or commonly known as vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant proven to have anti cancerous effects on your body!
Now I get it, some of you may bring up the deforestation and other environmental issues related to the mass production of palm oil and yes unfortunately that is true. The good news though, is that the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO has been set up to prevent that, and in Malaysia, many companies who did not comply to their standards have been shut down, so for you greenies, me included, worry not, for actions are being carried out!
At the end of the day, i believe Malaysians should be proud of their local produce, yes other countries may have great ingredients but that does not deny the fact that we may strive to have our local product soaring to an international level as well!
Who knows, if more people start demanding for palm oil, we may even have access to the extra virgin stuff that may and i believe it can rival yep, even extra virgin olive oil.
Oh well, I am a dreamer, hope it makes sense!