I have fond memories of an Indonesian family, friends of my father, that lived across town. We didn't interact very often, on account of me being busy with studying and eh....researching the Nijmegen nightlife, so to speak. On the occasions that I visited, their grandmother would immediately get up from her chair and go into the kitchen to cook, regardless of the time of day. If they had a particular kind of food they knew I liked, they'd call me to ask if I wanted some, and they would bring over a plate. Sometimes I would find a grocery sack hanging from the door knob with dinner, other times with a piece of spekkoek. At the time, as a young student and away from home, it made me feel welcome, loved and a part of something bigger than just my own little world. Nowadays, I find myself doing the same thing: sharing my food, showing love.
Braised meats, tender stews, marinated satays.....all foods that require attention and dedication. Rendang, today's dish, is one of those foods. With an intriguing variety of flavors, rendang takes time to prepare and mandates close attention towards the end, but the end results is very much worth the effort. It's Indo love on a plate.
Remove the fat from the beef and cut it into one inch cubes. Blend the shallots, the lemon grass (the tender white part), the garlic and the fresh ginger into a paste. If the paste gets too thick, add a tablespoon of oil.
After half an hour, stir in the kaffir lime leaves and the brown sugar, cover the pan and simmer slowly. The goal is to braise the beef to the point where it is very tender, and at the same time to reduce the liquid in the sauce so that it practically clings to the beef instead of swimming in it. You achieve this by moving the lid partially off the pan or crockpot after an hour, and letting the liquid slowly evaporate.