Malaysian Makan

Sorry – its been a while since my last post. We had a quick but awesome four days in Barcelona which although was meant to be all about my partner running the marathon, it was more like a marathon of eating and drinking! Within 2 hours of landing we had decamped to a beach bar with a plate of chipirones and padron peppers, with local beer and wine to quench our thirst in the sunshine. This was merely a pre-lunch snackette as we then headed further down to Barceloneta beach and tucked into Paella, fried fish and squid at Chiringuitos Las Sadrinatas – a very chilled beach bar which was just the place to hang out for the afternoon. Seafood in Barcelona is fantastic – fresh, cooked quickly and served with a chunk of delicious lemon… the only other accompaniment being a glass or two of chilled white or rosado.

Back home I realised that in less than 3 weeks we were off to Malaysia for Easter Holidays. A slightly bittersweet trip as the principal reason for going is to be there for my mothers anniversary. The thought of staying at home and reliving the pain was too much to bear, and I would much rather be with my extended family, in a place where we always had our ‘happy times’. With Malaysia on my mind, I started to think about Beef Rendang – the unctuous rich coconut beef curry which is so reminiscent of Malaysia. A real favourite in our household too…served with either white or turmeric rice and stirred or steamed vegetables. Good Malaysian food is not easy to find in the UK. We tend to try and hunt it down…. even to the extent when a fellow Eurasian and I went to the ‘canteen’ at the Malaysian embassy having heard that if we could speak a little Malay, they would allow us in. Luckily our school girl/amah learnt Malay passed the test and we were able to indulge in the Nasi Lemak and Beef Rendang which was almost as good as in Malaysia!

I love the coconut/lemongrass/star anise fragrance of this dish… I probably make it slightly wetter than they would in Malaysia, but i love the sauce soaking into my rice. So that was our Saturday night in… warming, fragrant and satisfying… all that was missing was fried ikan bilis (fried dried anchovies) to add the salty crunch on the side, and the heat & humidity of KL!



Beef Rendang

2kg Stewing/braising steak cubed
400ml Coconut milk
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 Star Anise
1 Tbs Tamarind paste (or lime juice)
1 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs Coriander
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp salt
1 Tbs Brown sugar (or palm sugar)

2 Red onions – roughly chopped\
5 Garlic cloves – peeled
8 large dried red chillies – soaked
3 Stalks Lemongrass – 2 chopped, 1 left whole
1 Tbs grated galangal or ginger
3 Tbs Oil (vegetable or coconut)

2 Tbs Desiccated coconut

Please the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies and 2 chopped stalks of lemon grass into a food processor. Pulse to a paste (add oil if necessary)
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the cinnamon, lemongrass stalk and star anise, followed by the spice paste, cumin and coriander. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add the beef and cook over high heat until sealed.
Add the coconut milk and 200ml water plus the tamarind, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil and then turn down low to simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours, uncovered.
Stir occasionally and watch that the meat doesn’t burn.
Toast the desiccated coconut in a separate pan and add about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time.
The end result should be a rich, thick curry with almost no gravy. If you like gravy, cook for less time, or add some more water.

(serves 6-8)



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