Beef Short Rib Rendang with Pandan Rice – A trip to Malayasia

2016-08-01 14.55.02I will admit from the start that whilst this dish tasted amazing it needed at least another hours cooking, so allow a good 6 hours for this beautiful dish, voted 1st in the CNN tastiest dishes in the world in 2011! The colour should be much deeper than mine, but it still tasted really good and worthy of a few words and pictures. I will have another go later in the year and make sure I have allowed more time!!

Having just got my driving back after a seizure 12 months ago, the freedom to be able to drive to my favourite oriental super market and farm shop was to much of a temptation to ignore.  The Local See Woo was my 1st stop, where I filled my basket with essentials such as fresh Lemongrass, fresh Turmeric, birds eye Chillis, Galangal and Pandan leaf and Limes.

Casey Fields farm shop was next, a couple of Beef Short Ribs seemed to be in order (along with the usual shop) and I was starting to think what to cook. My herb and Spice cupboard is well stocked with essentials from my favourite supplier Steenbergs so all was in hand to get in the kitchen and start cooking.

2016-08-01 15.30.10With the weather cooling slightly something warm and fragrant was in order, so looking at various cookery books, Beef Rendang seemed an ideal candidate. I found numerous versions on the web too, and went for the one on rasamalysia.com which is easy to find HERE. You need to make up as spice paste with Shallots, Lemongrass, Garlic, Ginger, Galangal and Chillis which I did in a food processor for speed. The other recipes also added Turmeric, so as I had some fresh that went in too!

2016-08-01 15.18.24The Beef Short Ribs are BIG! I took the time to put some colour on them first, giving them a burst of heat on each side before starting on the rest of the process. I think next time I cook this dish I will try Ox Cheek which is a great cut of meat for slow braising and has slightly less fat content, and is easier to handle ūüôā

2016-08-01 15.30.19There are quite a few ingredients in this dish and the Star Anise, Cardamon, Cloves are fried in a little oil to release their flavour, before adding a single ‘bashed’ Lemongrass shoot. Then the spice mix is added and fried for a few minutes, finally add the Beef, Coconut Milk, Tamarind some water, Palm Sugar and Kerisik.
2016-08-01 15.47.27 Kerisik is ground Coconut that has been fried until golden brown and can be made using desiccated Coconut if you cannot find fresh, again there are lots of references on the web, you can see my 1st attempt below.2016-08-01 15.51.55Kaffir Lime leaves are also added, I could not find mine so used some lime zest instead. The whole lot now cooks and cooks and cooks, this is a low and slow dish.  There are several stages to the process which I had somehow missed (they are in the Rendang Wiki link above), the 1st stage is easy as you can see above. After approximately 3 1/2 hours, the mixture had reduced and I saw the Oil on the surface and this is where I went wrong, as I removed it, rather than letting the dish carry on cooking allowing for more evaporation, colourisation, and the flavours penetrating the meat.

2016-08-01 19.32.04You can still see lots of moisture above, the dish should be much dryer but I now know for next time. I also think that using the food processor was a bad idea, as pounding in a pestle and mortar would have produced a better textured spice paste, but cooking is about learning so some more things to remember and lessons learnt.

2016-08-01 18.02.44Panadan or Screwpine leaves are indigenous to the far east and I was going to use them too flavour the rice. I have done this before but felt more kick was needed, so made a ‘tea’ using the Pandan Leaves and putting them in simmering¬†water for a good 5 minutes, before turning off the heat and letting stand for a good 30 minutes did the trick. I used Jasmine Rice and boiled for 10 minutes in the ‘tea’ before draining and adding some fresh Coriander.

2016-08-01 19.42.54So there you have it, it almost worked if only I had left the dish cooking for longer until the meat was darker and the moisture evaporated completely. My attempt would not have won the  CNN best dish award but it was still very tasty and the meat tender, the Rice with Pandan was a great addition.

 

………………………Until next time……………..L8ers………………..

Hola Amics, King Prawn Laksa and Mallorca?

WP_20150605_18_07_47_ProA last-minute decision to go and find some sun, this time last week we were starting our final evening on the stunning island of Mallorca (Majorca). I have never booked a holiday two days before departure but needs must, and what a fantastic time we had.

On the day before we departed from home, a package arrived from those lovely people at Steenbergs, upon opening up the cardboard box it was an opportunity to be part of their taste panel.

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Two different Tea samples, a mix for Nasi Goreng and a bottle of Lemon Oil, Organic of course and all were nestling in the vibrant orange paper, with feedback cards to let them know how each product tasted.

Unfortunately testing was going to be delayed as the plane was awaiting, but the next post will be my attempt at Nasi Goreng, with maybe a few twists along the way. I am working on some ideas on how to use some of the Lemon Oil, watch this space.

WP_20150605_18_36_19_ProThis particular dish, Prawn Laksa is derived from one by¬†Ching He Huang, the recipe on the BBC website does have a couple of mistakes in it, namely it lists both Water and Chicken Stock in the ingredients but says to use water. I opted to forget the water and use some of the home-made Chicken Stock I prepared recently for an Indian inspired dish. Having checked on Chings’ website under the ‘free member’ section, the recipe is subtly different, but does not mention the water!

File 06-06-2015 15 01 29Quickly back to Mallorca, we stayed in a delightful hotel in Alcudia, north of the island. It was an all-inclusive style and I have to say the food was some of the best I have had. There was a WHOLE Suckling Pig one evening, I did not have my camera to capture the evidence but it went down a treat.

Anyhow, back to the Laksa, which takes a few stages to complete the 1st being the spice paste.

Take a couple of small Onions, 3 Cloves of Garlic, 2 Lemons Grass stalks (the proper fresh ones from Chinese supermarkets), 1 piece of fresh Turmeric (if you can get it, it makes a difference), a couple of inches of Galangal, 1 tsp Coriander Powder and the same of Cumin, 1 tbls Shrimp Paste, a few Birds Eye Chilli’s (I used three), and whizz in a processor with 50 ml¬†of Coconut Milk into a smooth paste.

The end result is in the white tin to the left of the picture above, ¬†in the smaller tin are 4 King Prawns, marinading in a couple of spoon full’s of the mixture, which are then coated in CornFlour and fried until crispy for a tasty, crispy¬†garnish.

WP_20150605_19_19_00_ProThe Laksa paste needs frying in a little oil, it will start to darken slightly, I cooked mine for about 5-6 minutes to release the flavours, cook out the spices and evaporate some of the water. It smelt amazing.

WP_20150605_19_30_13_ProAfter the mix is cooked out, add a few Kaffir Lime leaves, the remaining Coconut Milk (about 250 mls), and Chicken Stock about 1 pint, a couple of tbls of Fish sauce and 1 tbls Palm Sugar, ¬†simmer vigorously¬†for about 20 – 25 minutes. I also added two more finely shredded Birds Eye Chilli’s after tasting, to increase the potency slightly!! I also added some grated Lime zest, about 1/2 a ¬†Limes worth.

You are looking for a consistency YOU are happy with, not too runny but not too thick as you will be adding more ingredients to finish the dish off at the end.

WP_20150605_19_45_07_ProWhilst the broth is simmering you can prep the garnishes, pick some Coriander leaves, finely shred some Red Chilli (nice colour contrast) and slice some Spring Onion on the angle. You will also need some Lime Wedges which are used as a condiment. The Prawns, and Noodles (fresh please), only take two minutes or so to cook, the marinating prawns can be coated in Corn Flour and deep fried before draining on kitchen paper.

WP_20150605_20_00_55_ProWe are onto the final straight, add the Prawns, and cook your noodles according to the instructions, mine were fresh and just needed a kettle of boiling water to be poured over them, left for a minute or so and thoroughly drained, When the Prawns are cooked, add the noodles and stir through for 30 secs to 1 minute maximum to coat.

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Serve how you wish, I used a simple bowl with the Laksa spooned in, and then added the Chilli, Spring Onion, Coriander and the Lime Wedge. The crispy Prawns were hung on the side, next time I cook this dish I will do a few more this way as they were stunningly delicious!!

Wowzer, ’nuff said it’s gorgeous, tasty, vibrant, spicy and downright amazeballs.

Even more important, the governor through the same, words like Wow, Mmmmmm (not a word I know but hey), it’s a blinding dish and well worth the effort.

The next post, hopefully very soon will be my interpretation of Nasi Goreng, I have had a few ideas buzzing in my head on how I might do things so…..

………………………..Until next time………………..l8ers