Home sweet home.
...and by 'home', I mean Sydney. Not exactly 'home' as in 'kampung halaman' (hometown, place of birth), but just...home.
After a week of tiresome, pretentious food that's not exactly easy on the pocket, how wonderful it would be to come home and have some warm, delicious home-cooked meal. Real food. Food that contains RICE, of which us Asians actually have a spiritual connection to (instead of just nourishing our bodies).
Problem is, my mom's not there to cook for me. She's 10,000 miles away in Jakarta.
But I won't let that be a problem. I decided to...make long distance call (correction: 2-hour long distance call) to Jakarta and ask my mom how to make her famous Beef Rendang.
Yes - I wanted to cook a Beef Rendang!
Ahh...the Beef Rendang. Original Minangkabau dish from Indonesia. One of our national dishes. This dry curry is very frequently consumed by Indonesians, but they know so little of its significance and worth.
In huge cities like Jakarta, Rendang is ubiquitous. Every Padang restaurant (Minangkabau restaurant) serves it, even non-Padang restaurants serves it as well. The recipe for Rendang has been much simplified and modernized these days, but truly authentic Rendang requires hours if not days of preparation.
-> For those not in the know, the Rendang is that brown thingy on the left.
To begin with, Rendang is made of, well, beef. (other meats just won't do). Now, no need to buy a $70-a-kilo Australian Wagyu or a $350-a-kilo Matsuzaka beef, Rendang must be made of lean, fatless, slightly hard beef. I used round steak to make this Rendang (cheap, only costs $12 a kilo), and in fact, I wouldn't recommend using prime cut meat for Rendang, because the beef would be totally cured, infused with spices and cooked for hours. Prime cuts are best to be eaten without much seasoning, let alone spices, and cooked just slightly because the main point is the taste of the meat itself.
I decided to cook my Rendang from scratch - just the way mamma makes it. There are lots of ready-made seasonings for Rendang out there, but since I've got plenty of time, why not try to make it from scratch? It tastes better, too. Much better.
Now look, I used my mom's secret recipe, so I can't divulge all of the ingredients, but I basically used, among others: Galangal, tumeric leaves, lemongrass, coriander, candlenut, tumeric roots, and chillies. Mixed with coconout cream, and you've got the base sauce for Rendang. Beef is then cooked with the mixture for approximately 3 hours until all the coconut cream evaporates, leaving a dense coating of spices on the beef cubes.
traditional beef rendang requires so much more preparations - including drying the meat under the sun and beating it repeatedly to achieve the perfect texture. Also, traditional beef rendang also requires an extra herb - an herb that's illegal in most countries. Yes, I'm talking about Cannabis Sativa.
I also make some yellow rice (made with tumeric root, unlike the Spanish version, which uses saffron), and Achar (an Indonesian / Malay cucumber and carrot relish). Actually, in Indonesia, people don't eat Rendang with yellow rice and Achar, but in Singapore, they do. So this dish is actually an authentic Minangkabau beef Rendang served in Singaporean style.
How truly Southeast-Asian.
Selamat Makan (bon apetit)!
P.S: Next time: Adobo. (a truly Philippine dish)!