“Rendang probably developed out of the need to preserve the meat from a
freshly killed buffalo in a tropical climate without refrigeration.”
Sri Owen, Indonesian Regional Food & Cookery
This rich, dry coconut beef hails from the Padang region of western Sumatra. I visited the Sumatran capital, Medan in the mid-nineties en route to the spookiest place I ever visited, Lake Toba. Spooky because in that part of the world ancestor worship is on high rotation and the locals like to exhume their relatives to give them a better burial – and usually a better view – whenever they are financially viable. Also on the menu on the other side of the ridge were tourists. Need I say more?
My travels throughout Indonesia happily brought me to back to Ubud in 2003 to meet a real soul sister, my dear friend Janet deNeefe with whom I have shared many a meal and cooking class ever since between Melbourne and Bali. Janet’s famous Casa Luna Cooking School teaches the traditions of Balinese cuisine and regional Indonesian fare.
During one visit at Honeymoon Guesthouse (you might consider donating to keep her fabulous, loyal staff in food during this time of coronavirus) she gave me a tiny little paperback book called Spicy Padang Cooking that lives pride of place next to her cookbooks Bali The Food Of My Island Home, and Fragrant Rice, her first book and the impetus that drove me to write and self-publish my first book The Healing Feeling.
The rendang recipe from Spicy Padang Cooking adds lemongrass to the paste, and fresh curry leaves, turmeric leaf, kaffir lime and dried garcinia fruit into the sauce. Janet’s recipe for a Balinese Beef Rendang reminds us that beef is ‘seldom served in Balinese households’ in keeping with Hindu dietary restrictions. The Bali paste includes candlenuts and cumin seeds also.
How to cook beef rendang, please take the time to make it. I call it the King of Curry, though it’s not really a curry, it is truly rich, dry coconut beef. Note that I’ve added a sachet of Zest Rendang Blend that I received which of course enhanced the beef and very handy if you have limited time to prepare the paste.Print