Rendang Potatoes!

4 Sep

DelectableI have long mourned the loss of rendang from my life as a vegetarian. My sister, too, says that the one thing she might consider eating meat for again is rendang. For those of you who dont know this food of the Goddesses, here is the definition of rendang from Wikipedia:

Rendang is made from beef (or occasionally chicken, mutton, water buffalo, duck, or vegetables like jackfruit or cassava) slowly cooked in coconut milk, spices and sometimes kerisik (toasted coconut paste) for several hours until almost all the liquid is gone, allowing the meat to absorb the spicy condiments. The cooking process changes from boiling to frying as the liquid evaporates. The slow cooking process allows the meat to absorb all the spices and to become tender. The spices may include ginger, galangal, turmeric leaf, lemon grass and chillies.

Its as good an explanation as any … rendang is difficult to explain, because its kind of curried, but not really. But once you eat it, it can become obsessional. Each state in Malaysia has a different kind of rendang, and we grew up eating Rendang Tok from our Dad’s home state of Perak. We of course consider that the height of rendang. But to be honest, since we both became complete vegetarians, any kind of rendang would be most welcome.

One of the reasons I love cooking is that inspiration comes from strange places. I have often wondered how to translate rendang into a vegetarian dish that was easily accessible. Jackfruit and cassava are not available here in the US, at least not easily, and so … I was looking at the potato gratin I made the other night, and marveling at the alchemy which turned the milk and cheese into a gooey sticky lovely binding for the potatoes, and suddenly, I thought, oooh. What if I put a rendang sauce together with boiled potatoes and roasted the whole thing in a high oven? I think I might be on to something…

So today, when I had quite a bit of time to potter about the kitchen, I decided to make rendang potatoes. I served them with rice and a beautiful mixed vegetable curry, which got quite a bit of sweetness from sugar beets and artichoke hearts and stems. The potatoes were spicy, salty, crispy and gooey with rendang paste. They were phenomenally good.

If you have access to a great market, try and make your rendang sauce from scratch. I give you below a basic recipe for rendang sauce that you can then treat as I do to prep it for the potatoes. If you dont have access to a good market, do as I did. Buy rendang sauce, jazz it up a bit, and boil it down until it is very very dark and very syrupy. Mix it with boiled potatoes, add a bit of olive oil or peanut oil, and roast until the rendang sauce becomes a paste, coating and loving those gorgeous crispy potatoes. Heaven.

For rendang sauce

I used 1/2 bottle of Rendang Sauce from World Market. I mixed it with:

  • 1/2 can thick coconut milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp grated fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, smashed

Boil this concoction in a saucepan over medium high heat for at least 30 minutes, mixing often. You might need up to an hour. The mixture will turn from light brown to a deep dark chocolate brown, and will reduce by up to 3/4ths. This is very very good. Taste and adjust seasonings. Once it is ready, fish out the lemongrass stalk, and set aside and prepare your potatoes.

If you are cooking the rendang sauce from scratch, you will need:

  • 2 – 5 fresh red chilis, seeded and chopped
  • 3 dry red chilis
  • 2 inches galangal root (a type of Asian ginger), peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped (or 3 shallots, chopped)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled
  • 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass, smashed
  • 1 tsp fennel powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric

Create a paste from these ingredients in a food processor. Add a tiny bit of water if you need it, but you shouldnt really. Set aside.

  • 4 -5 tbsp olive oil mixed with peanut or toasted sesame oil (about 50/50)
  • Spice paste as above
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp (mixed with water and deseeded)
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, smashed
  • 7 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 – 2 tsp light brown sugar, or palm sugar if you can get it, to taste
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk
  • 1 – 2 cups dried grated coconut, toasted

In a large saucepan, over medium high heat, heat the oil, and fry the spice paste until it becomes fragrant, and begins to separate from the oil. Add the rest of the spices, sugar and coconut milk . Mix well, and allow the mixture to boil until it is reduced by at least half. This can take up to an hour, and should be done on medium heat. Drain out the spices, and return the mixture to the heat. Add the toasted coconut, and continue to simmer the mixture until it is very thick and dark glossy brown, probably a further 30 – 40 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if need be. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Assembly

  • 1 1/2 lbs (about 3 kg) potatoes, sliced. I used fingerling potatoes, and left the skin on.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Rendang sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200 C

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are just soft. A fork should be able to pierce one with little effort. Drain, and tumble the potatoes into a casserole dish that should fit them quite evenly. Its okay if they are crowded, but you dont want them in big layers – they will steam rather than roast.

Pour the reserved rendang sauce over, and stir to cover. Make sure every last potato has been totally glazed in the sauce. This is important, so take your time. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Pour over the olive oil, and roast in the oven for at least 30 – 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are quite crisp, and the rendang sauce has reduced further to a thick dark brown paste.

Serve and get ready for people to go into paroxysms of joy.

2 Responses to “Rendang Potatoes!”

  1. goddessmoments September 4, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    I’m ready! I’m ready! πŸ™‚ Please come home and cook πŸ˜‰ Sounds just divine XOX

    • delectableblog September 4, 2010 at 2:39 am #

      It was soooo good. A combination of crispy roasted potatoes and that thick caramelised bit from the rendang. M + I were both very happy πŸ™‚

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