Beef cheeks are hard to find, so I substituted stewing beef. Coconut cream is thicker than coconut milk and is available canned. Shaoxing cooking wine is sold at Asian supermarkets, not the liquor store. Hawker Bar adds pickled cucumber as a garnish to give the dish some acidity. Serve with coconut rice.
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2 star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 whole nutmeg
3 whole cloves
4 to 8 whole dried chilies, soaked (8 will be very spicy)
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp white peppercorns
2 cups chopped shallots
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp chopped galangal
1 tbsp chopped fresh turmeric or 1 tsp dried
4 lemongrass stalks, white tender portion only, chopped
1/4 cup dried coconut, toasted
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped ginger
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup shaoxing wine
1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
1 kg (2 lbs) beef cheeks or stewing beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups beef or chicken stock, heated
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup (100 g) grated palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)
114-oz can coconut cream
Reserved rendang paste (see ingredients above)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sliced water chestnuts
1 cup sliced bamboo shoots
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place dry ingredients on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet.
Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until toasted and aromatic. Cool then grind into a fine powder (a coffee grinder works best).
Add wet ingredients, except for coconut, to a food processor and process until a thick paste forms, scraping down the sides as needed.
Add toasted coconut and ground, dry spices. Reserve.
Combine shallots with ginger, garlic, shaoxing wine and sweet soy sauce in a large bowl. Add beef and toss to coat. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 300 F. Drain beef and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Discard marinade.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a hot skillet over high heat. Add meat to skillet and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes a side.
Place meat in an ovenproof heavy pot. Add stock, cover and bake for 2 3/4 to 3 hours or until meat is very tender.
Place remaining oil, palm sugar and 1/4 cup coconut cream in a pot over medium-high heat while beef is cooking. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until palm sugar is dissolved and slightly caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in reserved rendang paste and 1/4 cup coconut milk.
Cook on medium-low heat, stirring often, for 30 minutes or until all the moisture has evaporated and the paste is a dark yellow colour.
Add remaining coconut cream, coconut milk and 1 cup beef braising liquid. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring often, until paste is fully cooked and flavours have developed.
Add water chestnuts and bamboo shoots and cook until heated through. Strain meat, add to sauce and reheat gently. If sauce is too thick, add more stock.
Season with lime juice and fish sauce. Garnish with coriander and fresh chilies.
Suggested Wine Pairings
You could honour the regional theme and opt for Tiger lager, the big beer brand from Singapore. It’s a fine brew. But this spicy, fragrant dish would sooner benefit from fruity injection in the form of an aromatic white wine such as riesling, gewurztraminer, moscato or viognier. Yes, beef with white wine – in this case it works. If you’d prefer red, try a fruit-forward, luscious shiraz from chef Alec Martin’s native Australia. - Beppi Crosariol