Beef Rendang

Many years ago, we brought Beef Rendang home to US, from Malaysia. Yes, vacuumed packed Beef Rendang.

Later, when we were still living in Texas, we flew from Dallas to California for Malaysian Food. And our order always included Beef Rendang. After we moved to Portland, Oregon, we drove 3 hours to Seattle to eat Beef Rendang from a Malaysian Restaurant. My craving for Malaysian foods was especially strong when I was pregnant. Thank God, my husband was kind enough to fly or drive with me.

One day, not long ago, I discovered the secrets to making this popular Rendang dish.

Secret 1: Use Beef Shank. Cook the beef shank until it is tender. It usually takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Secret 2: Use pre-mix Rendang sauce. In the past, I have used the Indofood brand and it tasted good. Yesterday night, I used a combination of Indofood brand and Hup Loong brand and it tasted even better. Photo shows a stalk of fresh Lemongrass and the two types of pre-mix for Rendang.


Secret 3: Use fresh Lemongrass. I cook the sauce with Lemongrass. When the sauce is cooled, I use a blender to “semi-puree” the sauce. The sauce will still have fibers from the Lemongrass. Don’t worry about it.

Secret 4: Use Coconut Milk. I use canned ones because we don’t have the luxury of fresh coconut milk in the US. I just use the brand that is on sale. I choose the can that has no dents, latest expiration date and sound “liquidish” when I give it a shake.

A note on Lemongrass

  • Use only the bottom 3 or 4 inches of the Lemongrass.
  • In room temperature, fresh Lemongrass shrinks over time and lose their fragrance from the outer layer first. So, I always choose the Lemongrass with the fattest bottom.
  • When I have left-over Lemongrass, I bruise it and cook it with rice.

Finally, if you are interested to cook Beef Rendang from scratch, check out: Rasa Malaysia Beef Rendang Recipe.



Filed under Malaysian Food

40 responses to “Beef Rendang

  1. Premixes really do make life easier, don’t they? 🙂

    I love using lemongrass in my cooking too.

  2. Dear Lyrical Lemongrass,

    Premix rendang packet is very convenient. Saves me time from pounding shallots, garlic, chili, onions, etc.

    Lyrical Lemongrass cooks with Lemongrass, of course!

  3. I was just wondering the other day who is going to make me crave for beef rendang — and it turns out to be you, MrsHBT. ;-P

    Here lemongrass is sold in threes or fours wrapped in a polystyrene tray for around CHF3 (RM9). They are supposedly flown in fresh from Thailand but look so dried out and aroma-less that I balk at buying them.

    When I was a child growing up in Taiping, Perak, on an errand for my mum, I’d stroll to a neighbourhood veggie farm and ask the auntie to cut for me a few stalks of lemongrass — all for 10 sen! (OK, now you can guess my age, heh heh.)

    “Fattest bottom” lemongrass! I like that, MrsHBT.
    It made me smile. (Wow! Your hubby is a real gem — flying with you from Texas to California just to satisfy your cravings.)

  4. You know what rendang impresses me the most. Vegetarian Mutton Rendang (LOL!) Everytime I’ve eaten it, I thought it tasted better than real mutton. Then I found out something that tasted similar – the fake meat made out of mushroom stalks, LOL!

  5. alice

    Finished my last packet of Maggi Instant Rendang last year. My mother-in-law bought some lemongrass from a florist shop to grow. It is still there in a pot in the open air , withstanding the hot sun and cold snow and all, for years. Strange though, when I transplanted some, it grew for a while and then died. I tried to grow a few stalks again and this time, they are growing well but I don’t know what will happen to them when the cold season comes.
    My sister dries and sends me pandan leaves, curry leaves, lemongrass, bunga kantan (sliced), kafir lime leaves ,etc from Malaysia almost every year.

  6. ilene ong

    Aiks, Lee Ping, you use lemongrass in your rice?! I would normally use pandan leaves as lemongrass too strong lei.

    Eventhough I have access to all these fresh herbs, many a time I would use the premixes as it’s really time saving!

    Jonzz’s comment is so true. Yes, I for one just love the vegetarian mutton curry as I really don’t like eating the real mutton.

  7. The beef rendang looks really authentic. I’m a big fan of using premixes as well – makes life easier esp. when you’re hungry and want food now!

  8. FuBonn Shopping Center has a decent selection of Malaysian and Indonesian curry pastes, which is what I start with most of the time, too, especially for rendang since it gets cooked down so much and the “fresh” flavor/aroma of the spices, etc, get cooked out to some degree. I just toss in extra lemongrass, ginger, and galangal in the curry while I cook it down. I generally simmer the meat in the sauce, though, to cook it off to get that flavor penetrating the meat and vice versa.

  9. V

    I have often passed by the rendang mixes at the asian market as I didn’t know which ones are good… thanks for the tip again! 🙂

  10. Wah! MeltingWok’s curry, now your rendang! Makes me get off my butt and head to the market for some curry rendang ingredients!

  11. I have used the packet on the left before. I know there is a brand which is very authentic (I will find out the name when I visit my groceries the next time).
    I normally make beef rendang from scratch as I grind loads of them together and then freeze them just like I do with my assam laksa ingredients and curry paste ingredients.
    Yours looks authentic.

  12. wmw

    Looks lovely …. I’m hungry (trying to be poetic! Ha ha ha…)

  13. I love beef rendang! Bought back a few packs of pre-mix from Malaysia and finally have used up 😦
    do you get your premix from the Asian grocery stores?

  14. hee…this is really bazaar! my friend recommended me a Rendang Beef premix long time ago and I haven’t had a chance to buy. Last weekend, we finally went to the oriental store and get 1 for myself thinking to try it sometime soon and today I saw you posted this yummy dish!! Thanks for sharing your secret. I never try to cook rendang with beef shank. 1 question: Do you cook the beef in water until tender before everything or you just cook everything and let the beef simmer in the rendang sauce for 2 hours?

  15. I wish we could get fresh coconut milk here too!

  16. Yummy! That looks good!! Now I am craving for rendang too. Will have to find time to make it soon : )

  17. I love beef rendang premix too! Taste great and autentic, better than I cook it from scratch I think.

    Do you know you can freeze lemongrass?

  18. LP

    I seldom use the pre-mix one. Last time, I got bunch from Malaysia, didn’t like any of them. I normally start from scratch. I use the frozen lemon grass because couldn’t get the fresh one. I think the fozen lemongrass worked out well too.

  19. i think u just started my craving for beef rendang!..haha where to find the nearest one for lunch now..hmmm

  20. Dear Argus,
    Beef Rendang is my all time favorite and it is perfect for the summer. Ever wonder why Malaysians eat spicy food like Beef Rendang? It is because in a hot and humid weather like Malaysia, spicy food would stimulate a person’s taste bud. I am glad that I made you crave for it.

    Malaysian Ringgit 9 roughly converts to US$2.60. I think it is about the same price here for a pack of 3 or 4 Lemongrass. Little Corner of Mine who just left a comment here suggested freezing the Lemongrass. I think that is a good idea. If I see fresh Lemongrass that is not too dry or too moldy at the roots, I should buy in bulk and freeze them.

    “OK, now you can guess my age, heh heh.” I cannot because I never did any errands for my Mom. She never let me into the kitchen or the laundry room, either. I was spoilt rotten, wasn’t I?

    “Fattest bottom” Lemongrass made you smile? You probably can come up with a better word. Your vocabulary is fatter than mine.

    My husband can be sweet some times. That is when my wifey duty calls.

    p/s I apologize that my reply could not be sooner. Summer time is hard for me to blog as I am their “Ahmad” or driver to go to summer camps, etc.

    I have never had Vegetarian Mutton Rendang. I would love to try some. Many years ago, my Mom’s best friend from Kuala Terengganu, cooked for us vegetarian food. The food she cooked was unbelievable. It was all tofu, mushroom (like you mentioned) and vegetables but it tasted like real meat!

    Pa, if you are reading this comment as well, remember “Kong Siao Che”?

    Dear Alice,
    I am not sure if Maggi Instant Rendang has preservatives or if it is good for your general health. My husband and I do eat instant noodles now and then, but not often. I have not seen Lemongrass at our local nurseries but I love the idea of growing your own Lemongrass.

    Your sister is very sweet to spend time drying all the spice leaves you mentioned and send them to you.

    Dear Ilene,
    I don’t buy Lemongrass in bulk. Usually, I will have one stalk that is leftover or about to turn dry and that is the time that I use it in my rice. Pandan leaves would make the rice very fragrant as well. 

    I replied to Judy’s comment this morning and she wrote me an email back with the name of the Rendang premix, Brahims. Is that the brand that you use as well?

    Real mutton without any spices do smell like goat, don’t they? I think a good use of spices will conceal some of the goat smell. 

    Dear WokandSpoon,
    “…using premixes…makes life easier” I agree, especially when it comes to Beef Rendang.
    I have a friend that use HaiNan Chicken Rice premix and her chicken rice always taste better than mine.

    Dear Extramsg,
    Welcome to my blog. I like your blog because it has tons of food related information for Portland. I included a link to your blog because I think it will benefit my Portland readers. Hillsdale Farmers Market is the only farmer market that is open year round. That is great information.

    From the way you describe how you cook your Rendang, I can tell you are knowledgeable about cooking. I buy my Beef Shank and premix from FuBonn Shopping Center. FuBonn offers a good selection of Asian related food items but I do spend time putting back items that have expired. Perhaps, one day, Ranch 99 from California can come to Portland.

    Dear V,
    You are very welcome.

    Dear Teckiee,
    I should check out Melting Wok’s curry. I enjoy reading your articles but I have not been leaving too many comments lately because it is summer vacation for my kids. Thanks for linking to my High Stock article.

    Dear Judy,
    Thanks for replying to my email this morning. So, Brahim is the brand that you know is very authentic. I will look for that brand and try it out.

    You make Beef Rendang from scratch! I have much to learn from you. The last time I made from scratch, it did not taste good at all. Luckily, my guests were not Malaysians, so they could not tell what is authentic.

    Dear WMW,
    “Looks lovely …. I’m hungry”

    It sure rhymes!

    Dear Mandy,
    You write like an Ang Moh (Caucasian) in your blog but you are familiar with Malaysian Food and even brought back a few packets of premix from Malaysia?

    I got my premix from the local Asian grocery store.

    Dear Cocoa,

    Here’s the answer to your question.

    I cook my beef shank (2 strips) in a medium sized pot of boiling water and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the tendon gets soft and the meat is tender. Just use enough water to cover the shank. I also add one star anise and 2 slices of ginger to the water.

    NOTE: If you use a slow cooker, be careful not to just leave your slow cooker to cook your meat overnight because overcooking your meat will cause all the flavor to leave the meat and into your stock.

    When the tendon is fork tender, remove the strips of beef shank. Cut it into bite size pieces. At this time, I stir fry my premix spices. You may choose to add additional onion, ginger, or shallots to further enhance the flavor. I chose to add my secret ingredient which is Lemongrass. After it is fragrant, add a can of coconut milk. To shred the Lemongrass, you can either put it in food processor before you start cooking or you can put into a blender if you cook your Lemongrass stalk with coconut milk. If you put mixture into a blender, make sure the Rendang is slightly cooled first. I used my blender and pulse until the 2 stalks of lemongrass (bottom portion only) is shredded. Once the Lemongrass is shredded, pour the sauce back into the same pot, put in your bite sized meat and cook until the coconut thickens a little. If I see my meat is not tender enough, I add in some of the beef stock from cooking the beef shank earlier.

    Dear SteamyKitchen,

    What I really miss is looking at the guys who sit on low stools and scraping fresh coconut flesh from a primitive machine.

    Dear BlurMommy,
    Thanks for your answer on Sambal. I will look for the Yeo’s brand Chili Sauce. No wonder your ikan bilis look good, they were flown all the way from Malaysia to the US!

    Dear Little Corner of Mine,
    Thanks for your compliments. Always nice to get compliments from cooks who has been cooking for years.

    Thanks for the freezing Lemongrass tip. I just remembered that I have a friend who buys frozen shredded Lemongrass for her Laksa Lemak.

    Dear LP,
    Do you still remember the brand of the premix that you didn’t like? Beef Shank is not cheap so, it is better to get the right kind of premix or else make your own Rendang sauce from scratch.

    p/s I write very limited Chinese Characters. I include some Chinese Characters sometimes for my friends who are more comfortable in reading Chinese Characters.

    Perhaps, you just have to walk a few steps to eat authentic delicious Rendang?

  21. LP

    I can’t remember what brand anymore. I normally use top round to cook the rendang. If I am lazy, I sautee/cook everything in the pot for 1/2 hr then put them into the oven (cover) at 220 to 250 degree for 2 or 3 hrs or untill tender. Work out very well.

    I cooked chicken rendang that way too but slightly defferent ingredients.

  22. In malaysia there are varieties of rendang, if can, I will send you some recipes.

  23. Dear MrsHBT, you’re very sweet but no need to apologise for attending to your real world first. It is understood that our virtual world should come second or third place.

    I had thought the price of lemongrass (10 sen) would reveal the era of my childhood. ^_^ That was the early 1970s.

    If I were Lyrical Lemongrass’s pear-shaped sister, I’d like to be called Fattest Bottom Lemongrass. ;-D

  24. I would look out for these brands in future. There are always so many brands of pre-mixed rendang sauce and I’m not sure which is good. Thanks!

  25. Dear LP,
    You have given some good information on how to use Beef Top Round Cuts to cook Rendang. You mentioned slow cook in the oven with cover. I have not tried out this method but I think it is important to use cover; otherwise the Beef will dry out in the oven.

    What kinds of ingredients do you cook your Chicken Rendang with?

    Big Boys Oven,
    It is very nice of you to send me recipes of Rendang. You blog is filled with beautiful desserts. Do you also give out free recipes to your readers?

    Dear Argus,
    I love to blog, I love to share my cooking and life tips, so I will not stay away too long.

    It is ironic that you mentioned 1970s. I was born in the year of the Dog, 1970.

    “If I were Lyrical Lemongrass’s pear-shaped sister, I’d like to be called Fattest Bottom Lemongrass.” I am sure LL would love to have you as a virtual sister, just like me. I will let LL know your comment…. 

    Dear Tigerfish,
    Judy Leese of Grandmother’s Stories mentioned that the Brahim brand is very authentic. So, if you have that brand in California, you can also give that a try.

  26. Rusdy

    Anyone know whether the ‘Indofood Rendang’ is safe for people who allergic to nuts?

  27. This is so lovely, I’m lovin’ your blog and I can definitely see myself coming back from now on…thanks for sharing…

  28. Rusdy,

    Welcome to my blog. I have a couple of friends whose kids are allergic to nuts, especially peanuts. You have brought up a very good question.

    Here are the ingredients listed at the back of the Indofood Rendang Bumbu Instan (Instant Seasoning Mix).

    Ingredients: Coconut milk, Herbs, Vegetable Oil, Salt, Sugar, Spices, Shallots, Garlic, Chili, Flavor enhancer (Yeast Extract), Antioxidant (Tocopherol).

    I don’t see any peanuts or nuts listed as one of the ingredients. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is very strict about the import foods. I think if it contains peanut, they will put that on the label.

    If you find otherwise, please let me know. I will add a statement that the packet contains traces of peanuts.


    Welcome to my blog. I will be sharing more recipes in the near future. I just started blogging not long ago. I started in November using blogspot as my host. Later, I migrated to wordpress host.

    I have met many nice bloggers and have learned a ton of new recipes and knowledge from these fellow bloggers.

    I will add you to my blogroll. I love LA as well, especially the Asian Foods.

    p/s I used to blog an article a day, sometimes 2 articles a day. Since the two older kids are home for the summer break, I have reduced the number of articles. I am sure, once the children are in school, I will have more free time to post more articles. If you have questions regarding any of my recipes, please feel free to ask me either via comments or email.

  29. wow … can smell it from here too. need to go find some rendang premix then i can make similar rendang dish for my husband.

  30. Rusdy

    Hmmm… I really hope FDA did go to great length on this issue (nuts content). I kinda ‘pessimistic’ on the accuracy of ingredients listed on the packet, as procedure and accuracy is not a big thing in Indonesia 😉 . Though I’m not really doubting that this seasoning may not contain any nut, but my concern is that it MAY contain traces of nuts, as it may be processed with other seasonings where nuts are handled

    It looks like I have to cook the rendang from scratch for my ‘nutty’ friend just for the safe, as she can react really, really bad and I can’t afford to take any risk.

    So far, Indofood rendang seasoning is THE best seasoning that I know of, but I never tried with the one you suggested, so I’ll give it a go, thanks for the tips!

  31. Dear Whoisbaby,

    I think your husband will be pleased with this dish.


    You brought up some good points there. I noticed that most US packages have “may contain nuts” but Asian packages do not. Sometimes what frustrates me is the expiration dates. They are readable to consumers. It is written as “PA EL EB” and “26I6217102”. What does that translates to? If it is for the shopkeeper, it is so cryptic and hard for them to read as well. Only honest shopkeepers would bother removing the expired packages from the shelves.

    Thanks for your comments…and if you do find out more information on traces of nuts in the package or anything related to the spices, please feel free to let me know as well.

  32. Dear MrsHBT, I love your cooking and living tips. Thanks for linking me with Lyrical Lemongrass. Now I’m getting more ‘sisters’ other than my 3 real-life ones. Now I know, through a few of your readers, one can plant lemongrass in a temperate country.

    Is it terrible to use a bit of pandan essence in my nasi lemak?

  33. Dear Argus,
    I never complain about having more sisters, real or virtual. Some sisters are my Angels and they guard over me. Wonda, in particular, who shared about planting Lemongrass, is my blogger Angel.

    One of my girlfriends told me that there is “clear” (no color) Pandan essence. For those of us who don’t have the luxury of fresh Pandan leaves, colorless Pandan essence is the next best substitute.

    If you use the regular green Pandan essence for your Nasi Lemak, you can serve it during St.Patrick’s Day. The green coconut rice will match the rest of the green on this special Irish Day.

  34. alice

    Thank you, thank you Lee Ping. I am no angel lah! Dropped by to tell you that I’ve just harvested my lemongrass. They are so precious that I only use the leaves to make chicken satay. My satay is the shortcut version (pan fried) but with real satay sauce from an instant premix. Yummy! Summer for me is mostly M’sian food.

  35. Dear Alice,

    I did not know that Lemongrass leaves can be consumed. I have always used just the bottom part. Summer time is perfect for Malaysian Food because the spiciness will stimulate our taste buds.

    Thanks for dropping by. My 2 older children are at my friend’s house. So, I have a little time to blog. I miss blogging but I am not complaining about the time I spend with them either. They grow up so fast and soon they will leave home to go to college.

  36. alice

    Lee Ping,
    The leaves are for the aroma they bring to the satay when I fried the chicken. The “fat bottom” of the lemongrass is too precious to use.

  37. Dear Alice,

    I agree. Indeed, the “fat bottom” of the Lemongrass is too precious to use. That is why I always use up all my Lemongrass before it dries up and loses its aroma.

  38. Hee hee, MrsHBT — St Patrick’s Day green nasi lemak! You’re too funny. ;-D
    Thank God the bottle of pandan essence a friend brought to Europe for me is the clear type. Wouldn’t appreciate any colouring in it as, most of the time, I like my food natural-hued.

  39. Kenny Mah

    Hi dear,

    Hope you’ve had a great weekend so far! I’m reading the comments on this blog and I’m amazed at the amount of useful information being shared… This is like a one-stop Beef Rendang Resource Page! 😀

    And all this talk of Beef Rendang is making my tummy growl even though it’s almost bedtime for me here.

    This is what I love about your blog — it grows and gets better and better. I learn something new each time I visit it. Wonder what you will write about next… *awaits curiously*

  40. Dear Argus,

    That’s great! I am still hunting for the clear Pandan essence over here.

    p/s You have a good friend who brought you breakable item all the way to Europe. After delivering my third child, one of my Girlfriend offered to bring me back a bottle of black sweet vinegar from Singapore. I told her not to. She did however, drove 3 hours to Seattle to get me the brand that she thinks has the best flavor. F, if you are reading this, thanks for your friendship and love.

    My blog is growing and getting better because of Alice and your help. Without both of your comments, I will still have one reader, one fan, my Dad. That is also the answer to your question, “Wonder what you will write about next….”

    It is Saturday morning here. Little Tiger and Little Chicken are still in bed. Little Dragon (an early riser) is learning Chinese from Daddy. So, I get one hour of Mommie time which translates to Blogging. It’s bedtime for you, so, sweet dreams….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s