September 8, 2009

Beef Rendang/Dry Beef Curry

A traditional dish of beef simmered in a rich spicy coconut milk. This is a special dish to prepare during the festive and/or weddings in Malaysia. It is generally served with ketupat (compressed rice cubes), roti jala or plain rice. The authentic rendang recipe calls for kerisik, which is pan-fried or toasted fresh grated coconut. It is then grind to form a fine powdery paste. My family loves this dish and I used to make batches of it and freeze them. Whenever my kids come to visit, they have something yummy to bring home. Years ago, I used to prepare the curry spices from scratch using the mortar and pestle and it is very time consuming and tiring for my shoulders. Nowadays, I substitute it with ready-made pastes and spice ingredients that I can get in the local markets. I've tested a few of these ready-made paste and by far, the best one is Brahim rendang paste, and the Mae Ploy red curry paste.
4-5 lbs topside or round chuck beef, cut in large pieces (larger than bite-sized)
1 can coconut cream (dilute with some of the coconut milk)
½ can coconut milk
Fry Ingredients (C):
1 stalk crushed lemon grass
4 kaffir lime leaves
3 star anise
2 cloves
1 small piece cinnamon stick
3 pieces dried tamarind
1 tumeric leaf, finely sliced (optional if not available)
4 Tbsp. oil
Kerisik: (optional)
¼ cup grated coconut for kerisik
Spices (A): (Blend to fine paste)
1 package Brahim rendang paste (if not available, substitute with 2-3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste, or curry powder)
5 shallots, sliced
1-2 large onions, sliced
10 dried chilies, soaked and seeds removed
2 cloves garlic
½-inch ginger
4 stalks lemon grass, thinly sliced
4 kaffer lime leaves, sliced
4-5 slices of galangal
5 candlenuts (can substitute for a handful of walnuts)
Marinade (B):
2 Tbps curry powder
1 Tbp dark soya sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1. Season meat well with marinade ingredients (B) and set aside.
2. To make the kerisik, if using: fry the grated coconut in a non-stick frying pan (without oil) on low heat. Keep stirring until it is evenly browned and golden in color. It takes about 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle grind until it resembles a fine paste. I use a mortar and pestle to do this task. Tip: Adding kerisik to the rendang helps thickens the gravy and give it a nice aroma.
4. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat, fry lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, blended spices (A), until fragrant and oil from the chilli starts to bubble on the surface. Continue stirring to prevent mixture from sticking.
5. Add in half of the coconut milk and stir the mixture for another 5 minutes, then add in the meat, dried tamarind, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Stir and mix until the mixture coats the meat evenly.
6. Add half of the coconut milk/cream, making sure the liquid is just enough to cover the meat. Cover and simmer on low until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer for 2 hours until the meat is tender and gravy has thickened
Tip: You don't add too much liquid as the meat will shrink during cooking, adjust when the mixture is getting too dry.
7. Add in the kerisik at the last hour of cooking time and stir in to mix with the gravy. The gravy should be thick and fragrant after the final stewing. Skim off some of the oil if you prefer.
8. Season to taste and serve hot with rice, roti or nasi kunyit.
Cook's tip:
You can make the kerisik ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator. I suggest you make extra and have enough for your next rendang. You can store it in an airtight container for up to about a month.
I find it economical to use coconut cream and add water to dilute and use accordingly. If using coconut milk do not dilute.
Printable Recipe

Braised Pork in Soy Sauce/Tau Yew Bak

This is a traditional Straits-born (Peranakan) dish that is excellent for both the young and old as it is full of flavor. and easy to digest. "Tau Ewe Bak" is a Hokkien dialect for Soy Sauce Pork. It is pork simmered with a good quality soy sauce with spices and hard boiled eggs. This is also one of my daughter's favorite dish.
500 gm belly pork or shoulder pork (trim off excess fat, and cut into 2" cubes)
2-3 cups water
3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled (optional)
2 pieces firm bean curd or fried bean curd (optional)
5-6 dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked in water and cut in half
3 Tbsp. light soy sauce
4 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. peppercorn, cracked
4 cloves unpeeled garlic, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 star anise
1 tsp. cracked peppercorns
1 tsp. salt
1. In a large pot or clay pot, add  water and bring to a boil. Add the marinade spices and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add pork and simmer for about 30-45 minutes until the water has reduced slightly and has reach a thick consistency. A little more water can be added if you like more gravy.
2. When the pork is tender to touch, add mushrooms, bean curd, eggs and continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with steamed rice.
Printable Recipe

September 7, 2009

Grilled Spicy Prawn Rolls/Rempah Udang

After watching Julie and Julia, I became similarly inspired. In my case, though I'm taking a particular type of Malaysian cuisine, known as Peranakan or Nyonya. There are over a dozen recipes that I have in mind--For starters, Rempah Udang is an old time favorite, great for afternoon tea or snacks.
100 gms prawns, shelled and chopped finely
100 gms dried prawns, soaked and chopped finely
150 gms coconut, toasted and ground finely
2 Tbp. dried winter melon, chopped finely
A few drops of blue coloring, or 2 tsp. dried bunga telaga ("Clitoria ternatea")
2-3 banana leaves (scald with hot water, wiped dry and cut into 5x6"pieces)
toothpicks or staples to secure ends
1 tablespoon oil
5 small shallots
3 gloves garlic
1 stalk lemon grass, sliced finely
2 candlenuts
½ tsp. Sar ginger powder
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp chilli paste
salt, sugar, pepper to taste
Rice Mixture:
300 gms glutinous rice, washed and pre-soaked overnight
2 cups thin coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1. Heat oil in a pan and fry blended ingredients until fragrant. Mix in the dried prawns and fry till well mixed and fragrant. Add in the prawns and stir fry till cooked. Mix in roasted coconut, winter melon and seasoning. Continue to stir until ingredients become dry and golden brown. Set this aside.

2. Add water to a steamer and bring to a boil. Combine glutinous rice with coconut milk, salt and sugar in a deep pan. Steam for 30-40 minutes until cooked.
3. Remove and leave to cool. Divide rice mixture into 2 portions, coloring one with blue. If using the dried bunga telaga, steep it with a few drops of hot water and squeezed out most of the color. Note: use a few drops of blue food coloring if this is not available.
4. Assemble rolls: To prevent rice from sticking, rub your hands with some cooking oil. Take a tablespoon of the white rice mixture and spread it thinly in the center of the banana leaf. Add 1 tablespoon of filling over and top with another tablespoon of the blue rice mixture. Gently roll up neatly, tug ends neatly and secure with toothpicks or staples.
5.Brush rolls with some cooking oil and grill for about 15 minutes turning occasionally.