Indonesian food has always been a mystery here in Toronto. Throughout the years several restaurants have opened but none have remained open long. As far as I know, there is only one lonely fast-food joint serving up Indonesian food in the north end, but unfortunately only has perhaps 3 items that I would say are truly Indonesian among the menu that includes Malysian, Chinese and Thai offerings. But, with this recipe you’ll be able to enjoy an Indonesian favorite!
Rendang is a popular Indonesian dish where the beef is simmered for hours in a mixture of spices until you get super tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat in a thick gravy-like sauce. The traditional mixture of spices; including galangal (blue ginger), candlenut, shallots, cloves, star anise, and chili; are the core to this yummy delight. Unfortunately, as with many traditional dishes, hours of prep with a mortar n’ pestle and low n’ slow cooking are required.
There are various resources on the interweb for traditional, from-scratch, beef rendang recipes – what we’ll show you in this article is a simplified version. It will still take time to simmer the beef, but this version reduces the prep!
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours, 15 mins
Servings: 6 portions
Meal type: Entree
2 lbs cubed stewing beef
2 medium onions
1 can of coconut milk
1 package of Rendang sauce
We like to use Munik or Indofood, both brands are imported from Indonesia. It is essentially a paste of the traditional ingredients that allows you to skip a good chunk of prep work and get straight to the stove.
1.Slice onions. I like rings, because they look prettier.
3.Fry the onions over medium heat for 3 mins.
4.Add shallots and continue to fry until onions brown. 5.Add the beef. Fry until meat starts to brown.
6.Add the rendang paste.
7.On high heat, add cold water to cover the meat 3/4s and stir well to mix paste. Bring to boil.
8.Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally to ensure the food does not stick to the bottom. 9.Add coconut milk, stir to mix, leave lid partially on and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally. You’re looking to reduce the broth to a thick gravy which coats and clings to the meat.
Serve on a bed of rice and some fresh vegetables on the side for a complete meal! The longer the stewing beef has to simmer, the more tender it is. Feel free to try other cuts of beef and different brands of the Rendang curry.
Are there other cuisines you’d like to see on YouCook? Let us know in the comments below!
Some friends of mine just went to Vietnam and described some of the dishes and restaurants they tried. One of my favourite restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City is Com Nieu Saigon and conveniently it is one of Anthony Bourdain’s favourite place too:
It’s a fun experience there, they cook claypots of rice and when they’re ready to serve, they break open the claypot and toss the rice across the room. It is a fun place to eat while you hearing smashing claypot sounds every few minutes. All the dishes at Com Nieu are delicious and in particular very basic and simple Vietnamese dishes can be found there such as braised pork belly with egg or braised catfish. In Vietnamese, this is braising of meat is called Kho and is quite common. This is an example of a meal that’s not typically in restaurants but made at home for its simplicity and comfort.
I’ve been meaning to learn how to cook my favourite Vietnamese dishes so that if I had any questions, I could just call home and ask my mom and grandmother any questions. So what better time than to start with some very basic dishes! So I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.
Braising pork or fish (or chicken, shrimp, beef) the Vietnamese way requires two basic Vietnamese sauces: Fish sauce and Caramel sauce.
The Vietnamese caramel sauce looks deceivingly simple to make at home but took me a few tries to perfect. Essentially Vietnamese caramel sauce is heating water saturated with sugar until the sugar burns. As heat is applied, the sugar water mixture turns from opaque to clear to yellow (tea colour) to orange …and if you’re unfortunate, to brown and black. Yup I might have unfortunately screwed up a few times Every recipe that I looked up had a different ratio of sugar to water.
- 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup of water (then 1/2 cup of water later).
- 2/3 cup sugar + 1/4 cup of water
- 2 Tbsp sugar + 1/4 cup of water
I’m not sure if it was the amount of sugar that made me cringe every time I made this last week to try to get the best sauce but I do prefer using the 2 Tbsp sugar instead of the 1 cup. The more authentic Vietnamese recipes do call for closer to a cup though. So it depends on your taste! I also figured out how easy it is to burn the sugar and how unpleasant the burnt sauce taste is.
1. Place sugar and water into a pot on medium heat. 2. Stir until sugar dissolves. 3. The water will boil and bubble. Keep watching (takes about 15 minutes). 4. You will see the water start turning yellow to orange as the sugar carmelizes. 5. At this point, be careful because it can turn brown and black quickly. As soon as it turns orange-brown and some smoke starts rising, turn off the heat and slowly pour in 1/2 cup of water. You don’t want the sauce to be too thick or too thin. Some people pour in boiling water but there’ll be a surprisingly big reaction when you do that.
Now that is your Vietnamese caramel sauce for any braising needs you have. You can pour the rest in a jar and store in your fridge indefinitely. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Remember that this is NOT how to make regular caramel sauce and by no means should you eat this with ice cream or other desserts, it’ll taste bittersweet and terrible
If you don’t want to venture off to burn…er… caramelize your own sugar, you can find the sauce in grocery stores usually called Coconut Caramel Sauce. Also, I found that when I bought frozen catfish from Vietnam, it came with a package of pre-made sauce!
Also the other thing that is special about Vietnamese braising technique is the use of the claypot. When my grandmother braises meat, they just use a metal pot sitting on low heat for a few hours. I’ve never owned a claypot and never knew how to cook with one so I bought one and learned how to use it! Unfortunately, I won’t be smashing my claypot at every meal like at Com Nieu but maybe one day!
When cooking with claypots, there are special handling instructions you need to follow. Claypots, by the nature of their material, are porous and absorb everything. The idea of cooking with a claypot is to soak it in water for at least 30 minutes so that later when heat is applied, the pot will release the water as steam which will cook the food.
Another property of claypots is that it is very sensitive to sudden temperature changes. Putting a (room temperature or cold) claypot into a pre-heated hot oven might cause the claypot to crack. Hence, no pre-heating of the oven is needed for claypot braising. The pot and the stove must start out at the same temperature and heated together. Also, remember this when taking out the claypot from the oven to not place it on a cold surface but on a cloth or towel first (for the same reasons).
Lastly, don’t use detergent to clean the claypots because it’ll will also just get soaked into the claypot themselves. The thought of a my braised pork belly steamed with dishwashing detergent does not sound appealing at all. I use salt and water to clean my claypot instead.
Alright, other than the sauce and the claypot handling instructions, I discovered that this dish is really easy to make. It is also quite tasty. As for the recipe for the crispy rice in a claypot as shown at Com Nieu in Anthony Bourdain’s video, I have yet to make that! You’ll have to stay tuned for that recipe.
Summary of Claypot Pork Belly and Egg
Preparation Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
Meal type: Main
2 hardboiled eggs
1 lb pork belly (or pork shoulder or pork butt – essentially any piece of pork with a layer of fat still in tact). Cut up into 2 inch chunks.
3 Tbsp of caramel sauce
3 Tbsp of fish sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Make sure that claypot was soaked in water before you prepare this dish. 2. Put pork, eggs, shallots into claypot.
It is always a struggle for me to fit everything I want in there. I cut the eggs in half. 3. In a separate bowl, combine caramel sauce, fish sauce, salt and pepper to mix. 4. Pour mixture into claypot. 5. Put claypot into oven and set to 400 degrees. Bake for 45 min.
If you don’t have a claypot, you can also do this on low heat on your stove top.
This dish is so easy and tasty. I like to eat it with rice, cucumber or pickled bean sprouts. Also feel free to use any other meats – fish, chicken, beef will all work. Eggplant or tofu would taste good too.
This Braised Beef Recipe from Susur’s newest Toronto restaurant, Madeline’s, incorporates many interesting flavours but is surprisingly simple to make. In light of the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, I would highly recommend you try this one out. The flavours are very Asian, with a bit of a twist. You can pair this with some rice for a more traditional Chinese dish.
Preparation Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 6 hrs 30 min
Servings: 2 servings
Meal type: Main
Grocery Cost: $11.75 (or $5.88 per person)
For the braised beef:
1 lb beef cheeks ~ $3.00
flour for dredging
1 1/2 L dark/beef stock ~ $2.00
1/2 L canned tomato (pureed) ~ $1.00
200 g chili bean paste ~ $0.75
1/2 cup oyster sauce ~ $0.50
2 bunches fresh coriander (roots left on) ~ $0.75
300 ml Chinese cooking wine ~ $1.00
3 pieces each of:
dried licorice ~ $0.50
star anise ~ $0.50
cinnamon sticks ~ $0.50
Chinese coriander seeds ~ $0.25
For the pasta:
pappardelle or preferred pasta
A handful of button mushrooms ~ $1.00
1. Trim excess fat from beef cheeks but do not remove the membrane (silver skin). 2. Dredge in flour and pat to remove excess. 3. Brown the beef cheeks on all sides in 1/4” of oil. 4. Combine remaining ingredients for the beef and braise the beef by baking it in the oven in a covered oven-proof pan at 250 F for 6 hours or until fork tender. 5. Remove the beef and strain your braising liquid. 6. Cook pappardelle until al dente.
7. Saute button mushrooms with 1tbsp oil, add pappardelle and coriander and saute some more.
8. Plate your pasta, and pour the braising liquid over it. Serve with braised beef.
Learn how Susur does it in this video:
During Winterlicious, Susur served this dish with pappardelle pasta. You can really use any starch that you enjoy. I recently had a great Beef Bourguignon at Biff’s Bistro in Toronto and they served it with semoule (also known as semolina).
You can also serve this on a potato puree. The sauce will just melt into it… Yum!
Having been braised slowly and for such a long time, the beef is now extremely tender and the flavours have melded into each other perfectly. This is perfect for making in the winter, when you’re spending the day snuggled in at home. Just prepare it and let your oven do all the work. 6 hours later, you have a beautifully gourmet meal!
If you had this at Madeline’s, please comment and tell us how you liked it! Also remember to vote for it on our Winterlicous app if you liked this dish!