Planning to have a West-Sumatran dish for today's meal? Spoil your tummy with some rendang and rice.
History of Rendang and Its Philosophical Meaning
Rendang is not actually a name for a dish. It's basically a philosophical term that refers to a special process, which makes beef tender, dry, and flavorful. The complex cooking process gives rendang a very unique and delicious taste. And that is why, on 14th April 2021, CNN highlighted Rendang as the 11th spot in their list of World’s 50 Best Foods. On 9 April 2018, Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism chose rendang as a national dish, along with soto, nasi goreng, sate, and gado-gado.
Originally, Rendang was made out of buffalo meat and was only served on special occasions or traditional ceremonies. In the past, Rendang was considered a sacred dish. In Rendang Traveler: Minyangkap Bertuahnya Rendang Minang (2012), written by Reno Adam Suri, rendang was referred to as "Kepalo Samba" or the head of the dishes at Minangkabau traditional events.
The tradition of preserving meat has been followed by the people of Minangkabau for a long time. They used to preserve meat in a conventional way, without using chemicals. People in Minangkabau believe that cooking rendang teaches three important values: patience, discretion, and perseverance.
Many Minang people migrated; as a result, they introduced their local food to new people and new places. Yes, Minang people usually carry rendang as a go-to packed meal because of its durability. It has a shelf life of one month. Nowadays, rendang is not only served at custom events but is a part of everyday meals.
There are many types of rendang. Beef rendang is the best-known variety of rendang and can be found easily. The other kinds of rendang are made with chicken, fish, egg, squid, and shrimp. Beef rendang has its own varieties such as rendang paru, rendang limpa, and rendang babat. Based on the type of occasion, rendang is classified into two categories; the rendang prepared for a special occasion requires one kilogram of whole beef and the rendang prepared for a daily meal is made out of beef that’s been divided into 20 parts.
The Process of Making Rendang
It takes 7-8 hours’ time and three important stages to cook rendang. The first stage is gulai in which the coconut milk is still in liquid form. The second stage is kalio in which the coconut milk thickens and becomes oily. This usually requires 4 hours of cooking. In the third stage, kalio is cooked on a low flame till it dries and becomes rendang.
Rendang Recipe by William Wongso
On an exciting episode of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, Ramsay was challenged by William Wongso to cook rendang. The recipe used by them, when they cooked rendang in West Sumatra, is included in Cita Rasa Indonesia: Ekspresi Kuliner William Wongso. Here’s the recipe for you to try at home.
500g beef, cut into 5x5 cm chunks
1 turmeric leaf (or 2 Indonesian bay leaves)
750 ml coconut milk containing 24% fat
2 stalks of lemongrass
4 lime leaves
120g onions, chopped
20g garlic, chopped
125g chili, chopped and deseeded
10g ginger, chopped
30g galangal, chopped
20g candlenut, pureed
How to Cook Rendang:
1. Pulse all the spices in a blender. Add lime leaves, lemongrass, and tamarind.
2. Add coconut milk. Stir fry till it becomes oily and turns brown.
3. Add the beef and stir.
4. Preheat the oven at 120°. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and cook them in the oven.
5. Cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours so that the beef becomes tender
6. Shift the beef into a pan. Cook on a low flame and keep stirring till the color changes to dark brown and the beef becomes ultra-tender
Cooking Tips from William Wongso
Along with the recipe, William Wongso shares some tips on how to make rendang more delightful. Check them out.
1 | Choose the best beef for rendang. Beef with less muscle will have a soft texture.
2 | Irradiated meat or calf cow meat is best to make rendang. It has high collagen content which makes the meat tender.
3 | If you choose tenderloin, you do not need to cook it for a long time because it is lean and soft.
4 | All types of meats can be used to cook rendang. You only need to adjust the cooking duration.
5 | Make sure you use all the spices and ingredients as instructed. Do not skip any one of them.
6 | It is better to use thick coconut milk and do not add water to make it savory.
7 | If you choose calf cow meat, you’ll need to cook for a longer time. It takes about 9 hours for all the spices to get well-absorbed.
8 | If you use the common beef that you get from the supermarket, it will take a shorter time, i.e. only around 4 hours, to cook
9 | Let the color of the ingredients turn dark to ensure that everything’s well-cooked.
10 | To get an authentic taste, cook the rendang on firewood.
Rendang takes a long time to cook, about 7 to 8 hours, but it is worth the effort. Eat rendang with warm rice to spoil your tummy and tongue. It tastes perfect!