Friday, 1 August 2008

potato rendang

potato rendang

Although a thick, spicy rendang has been one of my favourite dishes for much of my life, I have never before cooked it from scratch. For years I have used a packet sauce, because I have long been concerned that I would fail to get the consistency right. Rendang is a dish popular in Malaysia and Singapore, and although I think it originated in Indonesia it will always be a dish that always makes me think of Malaysia.

I was feeling quite a lot of trepidation going into this, worried that there was some essential animal-based element that was going to cause a failure on my part. My memories of rendang are so tied up with meat things, and I was concerned by the texture first, and the flavour second, and I was pretty sure that the end result would be "a thing, not rendang."

I describe it as ‘spicy,’ but in this instance I don’t mean hot, I mean thick with spices. Four tablespoons of chilli flakes sounds like a lot, but given the coconut milk it renders down to add delicious chilli flavour with very little bite.

Cooking it with potato is a bit odd; I suspect that seitan would work better, as it would allow the juices to soak in more effectively (and more in the way of beef), but it was still really tasty, and evoked the memories of that first bite, the odd combination of rich coconut and red chilli and my hands, covered in brown sauce. And it still tasted like rendang, and I'm so pleased.

potato rendang

This dish will take some time, like a curry. I have this terrible habit of using a wok for the rendang, but it would probably work better in a heavy-bottomed pot.

five potatoes (sliced into short fingers)

two tablespoons of lemon juice
half cup of stock
400ml(ish) coconut milk

three or four lime kaffir leaves

paste ingredients
one shallot
2 cloves garlic
four tablespoons dried chilli flakes
half tablespoon ground cumin
tablespoon coriander seeds
shake of ground cloves
short length of lemon grass


Pound together the paste ingredients. Dry fry until fragrant, add the coconut milk, simmer for ten minutes. Add the potatoes, continue simmering with the lid on for thirty minutes. Mix the stock, lemon juice and extra chilli flakes if required, and add, along with the lime kaffir. Continue to simmer with the lid off until the liquid has reduced and the potatoes are tender.

Serve with roti or rice, but this would work best with lontong.


Claire said...

I just made a similar lemongrass paste/coconut milk recipe with tempeh- you may want to try that if it sounds good to you. Mine got marinated overnight because my husband and I got stuck in town for an evening instead of coming home. I cooked the cubed tempeh and then broiled them on bamboo skewers. The recipe was from a US vegatarian times and was supposed to be similar to Indonesian tempeh satay, so likely the same food culture root. Also, I really liked your writing about "exotic" food. Words are important and convey attitude. I will reuse that statement because it's very astute. People get very offended when you don't want their meat/cheese laden food, almost that your ethical eating is blasphemous or more offensive than religious disagreements. It can be rather amazing how shocked people are when they learn what you eat.

Liz said...

You will be pleased to know that you're hit #4 when googling for vegetarian rendang. :D (I had a craving.)

I'm probably going to make an attempt at this this week. But I think I'll try with tofu or mushroom rather than potato, since the texture of potato doesn't thrill me.

Since this post is now almost 3 years old... any updates/tips?

steph said...

@Liz that is pretty cool! I like being easily googlable. :o)

I have done it with (firm) tofu and it has worked fine, and I also did it with tempeh once (boiled the tempeh with some tumeric for a few minutes before cooking it like usual). Other than that, no updates! Have fun!