Beef Rendang

EDIT (15/06/20): I’ve found an even better rendang recipe which is easier with fewer ingredients and tastes even better! I’ve updated it accordingly.

Recipe adapted from: Sarah Tiong’s (our favourite Masterchef contestant) cookbook Sweet, Savoury, Spicy

I absolutely love the complex flavours in this dish, however it is very time consuming to make this dish so I either recommend making it the night before or very early morning. Set aside about 4-5 hours for this dish. The prep time only takes about 20mins but the time it takes for the beef to tenderize can be up to 3 hours.

Although there are quite a lot of spices and ingredients in this recipe, the actual process of making it isn’t difficult at all. I picked up most of the ingredients at the local asian supermarket, where I find that the spices are much cheaper than regular grocery stores. The amazing results were worth me doubling my spice rack.

The great thing about beef rendang is that the flavours are better after the second or third day, which means you can make it well in advance before a party, allowing you to have more time for other preparations! I will be making this for years to come!

Serves: 4 people
(I always like to double this recipe to have leftovers since this recipe takes so much time to make)


  • Paste:
    • 4 large red Asian shallots
    • 5 cloves garlic
    • 4cm piece of fresh ginger (or galangal), peeled and sliced
    • 3 stalks of lemon grass (white parts only), finely sliced – you’ll need another 3 later on = 6 total
    • 2 Tbsp of a neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (ie. canola, vegetable…etc.)
  • 650g (~1.5lbs) chuck steak cut into cubes
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Rendang Spices:
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 4 star anise
    • 6 cardamom pods
    • 8 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or dried), stems removed and thinly sliced
    • 3 stalks of lemongrass, bruised/lightly pounded
  • 1 tsp hot chili powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • 1 cup (240ml) full fat coconut cream
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted
  • Serve with steamed rice or flatbread – or both! Also goes well with sambal.


  1. Make the paste by blending together: shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and oil. Blend until a thick paste forms. Set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, heat the 1/2 cup oil on medium-high heat. While the oil is warming up, dust the beef cubes in the flour. When the oil starts to smoke, sear the beef cubes in batches (careful not to overcrowd the pot) until you get a dark brown crust on both sides). Set aside the beef.
  3. Use the remaining oil in the pot to stir-fry the paste (made in step 1) for 5mins until caramelized and aromatic.
  4. Add the spices to the pot: cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Stir-fry for another 3 minutes.
  5. Add in the chilli powder, brown sugar and beef cubes. Stir-fry for another 3 minutes.
  6. Add the water, coconut cream and salt to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and bring it to the simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15mins.
  7. (Toast the desiccated coconut in this time if you haven’t already.)
  8. After 15mins, add the toasted coconut and stir thoroughly. If everything seems too dry at this time, add 1/4 cup of water at a time and mix. Cover the pot again and reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 2 hours or more until the beef is “fork-tender” and easy to break down and the liquid has been absorbed. Serve!


  • This recipe doesn’t turn a dark red like some of the rendang in recipes.
  • Flavours are best after the 2nd or 3rd day.
  • You can add a small jar of sambal chili to the recipe for an extra depth of flavour and to achieve the dark red colour or serve it on the side.
  • I find it much easier and cheaper to buy frozen lemongrass instead of fresh. I’m sure fresh would probably give it a nicer flavour, but it’s always so expensive around here and I feel like I’m wasting so much of it when I cut away the stalk leaves. Frozen is the way to go for me. Just defrost it in some room temp water before using.

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