My delightful sister-in-law taught me to make an Indonesian dish when we went to my brother's wedding last year. She's an incredible cook, and makes heaps of authentic Indo food. No surprise when you consider she is Indonesian!
I asked her specifically if she could show me a really simple dish that I could make at home. So she taught me Beef Rendang, with a side of stir-fried veges, mushrooms, and prawns. Mmm, yum. It was enjoyed by all our family (Boyo had a mushroom free version). We were also introduced to crunchy fried onions as a delicious topping for any Indo dish. I must say that they do add a certain pizzazz to the dish, and I've even found them at a local Indian supplier here.
The only problem has been sourcing the Rendang paste once I returned to NZ. While Sis had several options at her local supermarket, most of mine have none. I have scoured local Asian stores and supermarkets and found one brand. We tried but didn't like it. It didn't taste nearly as nice as the one we had in Oz. I nearly gave up. Then one day I was browsing through the gluten free section at my local New World. I can't even remember what I was looking for, but look what I found?!!
It's made with natural ingredients - the ones you'd use if you crafted the curry paste yourself. And it is tasty. Very tasty. Not too expensive. Using a packet sauce like this does make it a more expensive meal than our average one would be, but it also turns it into a really quick and easy one, so I'm more than happy to compromise on that.
As I didn't have any beef available (I want that for my Thai curry later in the month!), I decided to be really adventurous and use chicken. The back of the packet says you can use chicken or seafood, and I think I remember being told by my sis-in-law that you can use other meat if you want.
Cut one onion. Fry. Add the curry paste (for our tastes we will probably use 3/4 of the packet next time - we are not used to spicy food!).
Add meat and coat (I actually added the 5 chicken drumsticks with the onions to seal the meat - it can take up to a kg of meat, I had lots of sauce leftover from this one so next time I'd do maybe 8 chicken drums and have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Even better!).
Add a tin of coconut milk and simmer.
When it's nearly cooked swizzle a bit of kekap manis (Indo sweet soy sauce) around, and add a tiny bit of salt, before continuing to simmer. This is my sister's special addition, not mentioned on the packet. Grin.
**I can't believe I have lived for thirty years without even knowing about the existence of kekap manis!!!! It is SO good!
You can serve the main meat dish just like this, with rice and a side of stir-fried veges.
Or be lazy like I was and add some veges near the end of the cooking time instead of doing separate veges. My sister-in-law suggested beans and broccoli. Just long enough to heat them through. I used frozen beans and peas with some sliced carrots. The carrots went in a bit earlier to soften them up. Then I threw in a handful of cherry tomatoes just before it was time to eat.
It was delicious. Rendang will definitely be on next month's menu. The only question is, beef or chicken?