BEEF RENDANG (Indonesian boiled beef, for four)
6 dried, hot, whole red peppers, each about 3 inches long
1 pound very lean chuck beef
½ cup coarsely chopped shallots
one 3 inch long piece fresh lemon grass, trimmed and cut crosswise into ¼ inch pieces, about 2 tablespoons, or use 1 teaspoon lemongrass powder (plus 3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed with a mallet and tied into knots, for garnish, optional)
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 cup water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup corn, peanut or vegetable oil
2/3 cup coconut cream or milk
7 dried lime leaves (optional, lime leaves are available in many Asian food stores – mint leaves may be substituted if necessary)
¼ cup tamarind liquid or lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup dried, shredded, desiccated coconut
1. Put peppers in a bowl and add cold water to cover. Let soak an hour or longer, or until softened. Drain well and set aside.
2. Cut beef into ¾ inch cubes.
3. Chop peppers and put them into the container of an electric blender. Add shallots, fresh lemon grass or lemon grass powder, garlic, ginger and 1/3 cup water and blend thoroughly.
4. Heat oil in a wok or a skillet and, when it is quite hot, add the chili pepper mixture. Cook, stirring, about 10 seconds and add beef. Add coconut cream or milk and remaining 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil and cover closely. Let simmer about 20 minutes.
5. Add lime leaves, tamarind liquid or lemon juice and sugar.
6. Put shredded coconut into a skillet and cook, shaking skillet and stirring, until coconut is lightly browned. Add this to beef (add lemon grass knots here if you are using them). Stir and continue cooking about 5 minutes. Cover and continue cooking about 25 minutes.
7. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon grass knots and serve hot with rice.
adapted from Craig Claiborne, the New York Times