Just a passing glance…

I saw this at a shop near my house that day…

Adabi rendang powder 1

This was my mum’s favourite brand when it came to curry powder, those days when she was still cooking. I cast one passing glance at the back and saw the word kerisik (toasted grated coconut)…

Adabi rendang powder

…so without a second thought, I bought two packets, RM1.00 each, as they were not very big, thinking that now I would be able to try cooking rendang without having to go and buy a packet of kerisik and ending up stuck with the rest of it after using just a bit.

I still had one of the three packs of fresh beef…

Fresh beef from Perth
*Archive photo*

…that my Perth friend, who reads my blog regularly, gave me when he came home for Chinese New Year. I marinated the steaks in one with just salt and pepper and some thyme, all pre-sliced, and grilled them in a pan and yes, they were so very nice and tender, really really fresh. I opened another pack and tried cooking beef stew with it after looking at some youtube videos as to how I would be able to get it nice and brown but no, with all that spluttering, I decided to cut that part of the cooking short so the stew was rather pale even though it tasted great. I had one big pack left and despite my resolution not to cook curry and the like with it as all the spices and ingredients would drown out the nice beef taste, I went ahead and used it for my rendang.

When I got home, I looked at the packet again and horror of horrors!!! It was powder, not one of those instant pastes. *Cold sweat!* Then only did I realise my mistake – the kerisik mentioned was one of the items in the recipe, not the ingredients of what was in the packet. What? 10-15 shallots??? Goodness gracious me!!! And such a long list too! No wonder Malaysian/Malay dishes taste so nice – they really go all out, obviously.

Ah well!!! Since I had bought it already, I might as well give it a try. I cut the beef steaks into bite-size pieces and marinated it with the powder…

Beef, marinated

…after which, I put that in the fridge while I got everything else ready.

Of course, I did not use 10-15 shallots, just around 5 or 6…and 3-4 cloves of garlic, a chunk of ginger, one stick of serai (lemon grass) and a few slices of lengkuas (galangal). Two inches of garlic again? Inches? I think there was something wrong with the recipe but no, as always, I did not follow it faithfully and I added some kunyit (turmeric) and chili, no mention of those in the list…

Ingredients for pounding

…and I pounded everything till it was fine enough…

Pounded ingredients

Of course it would be easier with a blender but no, I never use that plus I did not find doing this all that difficult at all. I sure had a lot of training when I was helping my mum in the kitchen everytime she cooked curry – and yes, she would like it a little finer than this.

I heated up a bit of oil to fry the pounded ingredients till golden brown and after that, the sticks of serai (lemon grass) from my garden, bruised at the ends, went in plus the beef, mixing everything together well before I covered the wok to let the meat cook until all the juices had come out, adding a bit of water periodically when it got a little too dry. Two pieces of turmeric (kunyit) leaf, it said in the recipe. That sure is mind-boggling. Do I use the big ones…or the medium or the small? In the end, I picked two medium-sized leaves from what I had growing in the garden (they never get to be all that big, anyway) and sliced them thinly before throwing them into the wok. I did add a sprig of curry leaves as well as I did not have any kafir lime leaves (daun limau purut).

After letting it simmer for a while, I tried a bit of the gravy and boy, it sure was very nice!!! Of course, it had to be nice considering all those ingredients that went into it. However, that was not the end! There were still some ingredients that had not gone in yet. I added a bit of santan (coconut milk), just around half a cup…and the colour changed – I think it looked very much nicer without the santan. I tasted the gravy again and yes, it was nice, just not salty and though I would be fine with it like that, I added a pinch.

The recipe said I had to add asam jawa (tamarind paste) – no, even though I did have some in the fridge, I did not bother…and some gula Melaka (palm sugar). I added some and tasted again – no, I did not think that made it nicer. I sure would leave it out should I be cooking this again. I let it simmer a while longer to get the meat to be more tender before I dished everything out…

Beef rendang 1

…and served.

Now, don’t you think that looked absolutely gorgeous?

Beef rendang 2

Well, it tasted really good too…

Beef rendang 3

…and my girl who is not really into any curry and the like using those instant pastes – she says the taste does not go into the meat – loved it!

I still have another packet of the powder left so I will have to do this again…one more time. Maybe I’ll try chicken next time.