08 August 2009

Beef Rendang - Cooked Under Pressure

I finally managed to get to PoK today and got myself a Fagor Duo Pressure Cooker.. :)

This is the kitchen appliance which will help reduce my cooking time for beef stews from 3 hrs to 40 mins and produce risottos in 7 mins !!!

I've been researching online for over a month now on which pressure cooker to buy. I've never actually used one before. But I have seen my grandma use her rather loud pressure cooker to cook abalone. An appliance which I remember to quite scary... The way it would go off.. I used to think it would blow up in someone's face.

After a going through numerous reviews of pressure cookers on Amazon, I had pretty much narrowed my choices down to a stovetop cooker. An electric cooker would save an extra stovetop space, but given the amount of bench space available at my little kitchenette, it wasn't going to be much different. A few reviewers who had both an electric and stovetop cooker said that they preferred the stovetop version over the electronic cookers. This was mostly due to the ease of browning meats and better control of the temperature and high pressure achieved.

After reading Helen @ GrabYourFork's review on three difference pressure cookers, I was pretty much sold on the Fagor Duo.

I christened my new pressure cooker with my Beef Rendang recipe. :)

This usually takes me about 3 hrs to make and requires constant stirring and checking to make sure the bottom doesn't stick and burn. In the Fagor Duo, it took about 35 mins. With 5-7 mins extra cooking with the lid off when I had to add in the sugar, salt and toasted desiccated coconut.

My version of beef rendang is probably less dry and has more sauce (..I like to mix the sauce in with my rice..) than the traditional version. I doubled the amount of coconut milk to achieve this and also added in some curry leaves. You can half the coconut milk required and omit the curry leaves if you like.

Here is the full recipe...

Beef Rendang

In a food processor, pulse together:

  • 3cm galangal (sliced)
  • 3cm ginger (skin removed)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 dried chilli (cut up with scissors, soaked in water, seeds discarded)

Then use as a spice rub and mix together with:

  • 1kg chuck steak (cut into 3cm cubes)
  • 2 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoon salt

Set the mixed beef cubes aside and in the pressure cooker stir fry:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 10 red shallots (roughly sliced)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (ends removed, sliced into 3 parts, bruised, outer green layer discarded)

Once the shallots start to brown, add in the following spices and stir fry together:

  • 3 curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (torn in half down the spine)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon bark (about 5cm long..)

After you can start to smell the aroma from the spices, the add in the beef and brown on all sides, then pour in (one after another):

  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste (diluted with a tablespoon of water)
  • 1 tablespoon thick soy sauce
  • 500ml coconut milk

If the coconut milk doesn't come up half way to the beef cubes, then add in 1/2 cup of water.

Place lid on pressure cooker, set it to high (15 psi), enable safety lock, then turn up the heat to bring the cooker to pressure. Once pressure has been achieved, turn the heat back down so that only slow continued puffs of steam are released. After 35 mins, turn the heat off, then use the automatic release method to release the pressure. Once all the pressure has been released, unlock the cooker and remove the lid.

Don't worry if the contents in the pot looks a bit weird (its the coconut milk that has separated), just give it a quick stir to combine everything together again.

Turn the heat back on to the lowest setting and add:

  • 5cm stick brown block sugar (broken up with a pestle mortar..see notes below for substitutes)
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut (lightly toasted in a pan)
  • salt to taste

Continue to simmer on low heat for about 5-7 mins. Gently stir the contents in the pot around and make sure everything is combined and the block sugar (if using) has broken down.

Taste the rendang sauce and add more sugar or salt as required.

Serve with some plain steam rice or with some coconut rice.

Beef Rendang

  • I got the brown block sugar from a Asian grocery store. You can use palm sugar (which would probably be more authentic) or substitute this with about 1 ½ tablespoons of brown sugar instead.
  • Bruising the lemongrass consisted of smashing it with the back of my chopping knife
  • I got the cinnamon bark from a Asian grocery store. It doesn't have the curly bits like normal cinnamon and looks a lot more 'bark-like'. I think it maybe called Cassia bark.. but I can't be sure. You can use a normal cinnamon stick instead.
  • After making this, I think you can probably change the order around a bit by using 1 cup of water to cook the beef in the pressure cooker, and adding the coconut milk in the last 5-7 mins of cooking. I will give this method a try, once I get my hands on some more chuck steak :)


  1. This page was the number-one hit when I Googled "beef rendang pressure cooker". I was a little wary about making it, because it had only one like and no comments. I shouldn't have worried, because I and my dinner guest both thought it was amazing. I will be cooking it again and again. The only modifications that I made, due to necessity/circumstances were:

    * I used 1 kg beef topside, cubed, as my supermarket had nothing labelled as chuck steak.
    * I used the galangal, ginger, garlic, chilli, oil and salt as a marinade, in which the beef sat for about 24 hours in the fridge (after a change of schedule). I think that can only have helped. Normally I would also have used some alcohol/acid in the marinade, but the result was so tender that that might have been overkill.
    * How long is one stalk of lemongrass? My supermarket sells it in uniformly sized jars, so the pieces are by necessity about 4-5 cm long. I used one of those and cut it into three. Should I have used more?
    * The maximum pressure on my pressure cooker is 12 psi rather than your 15, so I cooked it for 50 minutes at pressure, then let it depressurise by cooling, while I cooked the rice.
    * [Not a change:] I did use the curry leaves
    * I used 1 tablespoon of palm sugar (which I was surprised to find in stock at Tesco), and found no need to add more.
    * [Not a change:] I used your original method, not your suggested mod of adding the coconut milk at the end. It was fine. Coconut milk is sold here in 400 ml cans, not by weight, but it turns out that coconut ml = g, more or less. I used one-and-a-bit cans. There was no need to add extra water.
    * Just a naive question: The recipe calls for the adding of lots of large, unground spice ingredients, and doesn't mention removing them before serving. Is that traditional in this kind of cooking? I left the bits in and we removed them as we found them with our forks/tongues. I find that that adds to the richness of the eating. Is that the way that it's normally done?
    *[Not a change:] I thought that there appeared to be too much liquid after removing the lid, but by the time that it was sharing space with some rice in a pasta dish, it seemed just right.

    The beef was the most delicious "slow"-cooked beef that I have ever eaten. It literally fell apart in the mouth, and yet held together in the cooker. The spice mixture was orgastically rich. The recipe seems perfect to me, but, since you posted it, have you made any modifications of your own?


  2. Hi Leon...  firstly..let me say.  Wow !! Thank you so much for taking the time to put together such a comprehensive reply.  :)  

    In reply to your questions..  I found that marinating meats up to 24hrs still yields pretty good results.  anything over that may become a bit too salty.  

    One stalk of lemongrass from my supermarket is usually around 30-35cms.  Lemongrass is more of an aromatic spice, so even if you put a little bit more in..it shouldn't be a problem.

    glad the palm sugar worked ! (thanks for letting me know the amount used). i usually find it quite hard to get these, so have had to use brown sugar or asian block sugar on most occasions.

    The coconut milk amount should have been shown in 'ml' and not 'grams' (since it is in liquid form)..  I've updated this now.  thanks for highlighting that.

    The unground spices can be removed prior to serving.  Its really more of a preference thing, especially since its quite easy to avoid when eating the dish.  I prefer to keep it in because i feel it gives the food a bit more of a rustic feel.  :)

    I haven't really made much changes to this recipe.  But if you do have the time, try to make the non-pressure cooker version.  the depth of the spice mixture and the meat (when given the time to slowly cook), really takes on a different dimension. 

    thanks again for taking the time to post and for trying out the recipe !  :)

  3. Hello, this recipe is for 5-7 people?

  4. Hi Kopikosonggirl,
    it depends if you are only having the beef rendang with rice. I usually try to serve it with some stirfry vegies and possibly some other side dishes with it. if its just the rendang and rice I would say it would feed 4 people comfortably.
    hope this helps :)

  5. I'm looking for a new pressure cooker. This will be my first time buying. Do you have any recommendations? How is your machine doing and what do you think about the kuhn rikon duromatic? http://www.cookwithpressure.com/kuhn-rikon-duromatic-family-style-pressure-cooker-review/. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

  6. What to Look for in a Pressure Cooker and the Tes…: http://youtu.be/IiCUKA7dDUs


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