Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rendang Padang, and My Rant...

I feel so lucky sometimes, to find out what I want to do with my life. People ask me, why do I love to cook, and to be honest, I can't answer that. Do I cook stuff so I can post it on the blog? Not necessarily. My reason to cook goes way beyond that. My blog is just one of so many ways to kill boredom. Do I cook because I have to? Not really. I'm at the point where what I cook at home, doesn't satisfy my passion anymore. I want to do something more. Something beyond my knowledge. Something totally new. If I get to choose what I want to do with my life, I want to be in the kitchen 24/7, with several potty breaks when needed. (Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point) I cook, simply because I like it. Strange, I know. But I'm the kind of person who does shit just because. I wish the question "what inspires you to cook?" could stay unanswered. If you want something that resembles an answer, how about this, I'm blinded by love.

I've been talking about going back to school a lot, up to the time it feels like I'm just bluffing. Well, it's quite hard for middle-class family like us who are still improving our life. It's just sad that we're too poor to afford childcare, but yet we make too much to get childcare benefit. This has been worrying me for the past couple years, I've decided to stop overthinking shit and make a move. So I applied to culinary school and applied for the financial aid. Just wish me luck.

With so many instant spices available, what I could've done was bought the rendang instant spice package and cook it. But I hate shortcut. Not because, "Ooh, shortcut is for loser blahblah. I'm fancy. I'm cool, that's why I make things from scratch. Shortcut doesn't taste as good as homemade." Nope. It's just because I like making things from scratch, it's for personal satisfaction. I just love the act of cooking. It makes me feel good. This is my vice.

This lovely spicy Padang beef stew might not look sleek or sexy or classy. But who cares? Back in Jakarta when my parents got Padang take-out, they always jokingly said "THIS MUST HAVE CRACK IN IT!", it's quite addictive. My dad said they might put a bit of opium in it (I think he's joking. He MUST be joking...) Don't worry, you can make this without having to harvest some illegal ingredients...

Rendang Padang

  • 1 kg beef brisket 
  • 2 liters thick coconut milk
  • 450 gr red base sauce (recipe included at the end of the post)
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp tamarind water
  • 3 lemongrass, bruised
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper
  • 4 cm ginger
  • 4 cm galangal
  • 1 tbsp salt
  1. Grind the coriander seeds, whole black pepper, ginger, galangal and salt into a paste (or use mortar and pestle).
  2. Soften the piece of beef, using a mallet (good for taking out your frustration). Cut into 10x10x1 cm pieces.
  3. Combine coconut milk with red base sauce, ground spices, lime leaves, bay leaves, tamarind water and lemongrass in a pot. Bring it to noil.
  4. Put in the beef, give it a stir and cook until the beef softens and the liquid thickens.
  5. Lower the heat to simmer, and keep cooking. Stir it often until the liquid dries out and it'll be oily. Ready to serve. 
  6. Or you can toss everything into the slow cooker (low or medium setting)..... cook until the beef is soft enough to be cut with fork, then turn your slow cooker to high and let it cook til it dries out.
Red base sauce:
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100 ml water
  • 150 gr red chilies, discard the seeds (I didn't discard them, but it'll be super spicy)
  • 40 gr shallots
  • 35 gr garlic
  • 5 candlenuts, fried and sliced thinly
  • 10 gr galangal, sliced
  • 10 gr ginger, sliced
  1. Grind the chilies, shallots, garlic, candlenuts, galangal and ginger (or use mortar and pestle).
  2. Heat oil on low heat, stir fry the ground spices until fragrant.
  3. Add the water until the whole thing thickens. Pour into a heatproof jar/bowl. Once it cools down, cover and store in the refrigerator. Ready to be used.


  1. I love beef made this way.please keep bored so we get more of those dishes;)

  2. I think you're great cook. This look awesome! What is candlenuts?
    I hope you are accepted at the culinary school and get finance aid.

  3. Nippon Nin: candlenuts is a kind of spice that is used a lot in Indonesian cooking. And thank you so much! I'm actually going to the campus today. :)

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