So I accepted a little challenge. To create a traditional dish and put my own Em’s Food spin on it. It had to be Malaysian, it was better if it was made from scratch and it had to be my own. This is what I came up with. Homemade Roti bread (which was a triumph, I might add) filled with a gorgeous, melt in your mouth Beef Rendang. Now Rendang can be pretty rich so I thought it would be really nice served with a quick cucumber pickle, just to cut through all of that richness and a textured, toasted coconut, Asian inspired topper. I thought the Street Food angle might work and fingers crossed, it will!
For the time poor, store bought Roti is absolutely fine but if you like a wee challenge then why not go the whole hog? It was well worth it. How do I know this? A little Malaysian Birdie told me it was fabulous!
To make it easier I will split this recipe into parts, Roti bread and Rendang, Pickle, Topper. That way you will know what time frame you will need. This looks like a big recipe (and it is) but the process is fairly simple. I actually believe even the most basic of cooks could make a success of this dish. Go on, challenge yourself…..
Living in Newcastle, I was unable to source some or the ingredients in a traditional Rending so this is totally my take.
Rendang, Pickle, Topper:
Prep time: 40 Minutes Cooking time: 3 Hours $$ Medium Budget
2 tbs of vegetable oil
1.2kg of gravy beef, cut into bite sized pieces
3 Stalks of lemon grass, white part only, bruised with the blent edge of your knife
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
6 Kaffir lime leaves, rolled and finely sliced
6 dried red chillies, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and seeds removed for less heat
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp of sea salt
3 tbs of Malaysian curry powder*
1 tbs of coconut sugar (1.5 tsp of brown will do)
400ml of coconut cream
1 cup of water
11/2 cups of shredded coconut, toasted in a dry pan, reserve half a cup for the topper
Lime Wedges to serve
For the Cucumber Pickle:
2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled into ribbons, seeds discarded
2 cups of bean shoots
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1 tbs of caster sugar
For the Coconut Topper:
1/2 cup of toasted coconut
2 spring onions, cut into 4cm batons and then finely julienned
2 long red chillies, halved & deseeded and finely julienned
2 cups of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, spine removed and rolled and sliced very finely
Place the red onion, garlic, ginger, drained red chillies and sea salt in a small food processor and blitz until you have a nice fine paste.
Heat a large, heavy based pot and add the oil. When it is nice and warm, add the paste and fry for approximately 5 minutes or until it is beginning to darken and it is lovely and aromatic. Add the lemon grass, beef and kaffir lime leaves and stir well over a fairly high heat until the beef is starting to brown. Add the sugar, coconut cream and water and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a simmer, pop on a lid and allow to simmer, stirring periodically for approximately 2 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender. Don’t be alarmed if your curry looks like it has split, it will come together again when you add the coconut paste.
Place 1 cup of toasted coconut in a mortar and pestle and pound until you have a nice paste like consistency. This will release the oil in the coconut.
Remove the lid from the curry and add the coconut paste. Stir to combine and allow the curry to reduce for 30 minutes or until it is nice and dry. Have a taste of the curry and adjust any seasoning if necessary and pull the lemongrass out just before serving.
To make the pickle place the cucumber and bean shoots in a large bowl. Whisk the vinegar and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved and pour over the cucumber mixture. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Place the spring onions, chillies, coriander and kaffir lime leaves in a small bowl and use your fingers to toss. Pour in enough water to cover and add a few ice cubes. This will really crisp and freshen everything up. Drain and add the remaining toasted coconut just before serving.
*Malaysian Curry Powder is found in Asian Supermarkets or on line
To make the Roti Bread:
Prep time: 30 Minutes Cooking time: 30 Minutes $ Low Budget
21/2 cups of Bread flour + extra for dusting
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 cup of chilled water
50gm of butter, melted
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the water and using your hand, bring the dough together in the bowl. It is quite a sticky dough so make sure your work surface is lightly floured. Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour surface and knead for approximately 5 minutes, adding more flour to the surface if need be.
When the dough is nice and smooth, roll the dough into a 20cm log. Cut into 8 equal portions and then roll each portion into a nice ball. Place on a tray and cover with a piece of cling wrap to stop the dough doing out.
Taking one portion of dough, use a rolling pin to roll into a flat disc, 20cm in diameter. Brush with butter and then roll the dough into a cylinder to enclose the butter. Grab the ends and coil the dough into a scroll shape and then roll out again to a thin disc about 20cm in diameter. The dough should be really quite pliable so the thinner the better.
Heat a large frypan and brush the base with a little oil. Fry the bread on each side for 1-2 minutes or until golden and starting to bubble up. Try not to be impatient at this point because the bread is so nice and chewy if cooked correctly. Place on a sheet of baking paper and repeat with the remaining dough. I rolled a few out and then started the cooking process. Once they started cooking I would roll out another one. It was actually a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
To serve the dish, place a nice amount of cucumber pickle across the bottom of the roti and top with an equally generous portion of Rending. Don’t forget to toss the toasted coconut through the salad topper, sprinkle over the Rendang and add a squeeze of lime. Use your hands to roll up like a wrap and tuck in!