Beef Rendang With Homemade Lemang — Whip It UP!

Beef Rendang With Homemade Lemang (Glutinous rice). Photos: Lisa Ho

By Lisa Ho

A good beef rendang takes time. Making rempah from scratch for full-bodied flavours; grinding dry spices; toasting the freshly grated coconut for kerisik. Then slow-cooking the meat until it is tender.

Rendang needs its sidekick – lemang (glutinous rice coated in luscious coconut cream, stuffed into bamboo tubes and cooked over an open fire). Now it can easily be prepared at home.

Selamat berbuka puasa!

Total Time: 1-1 ½ hours
Cost: $30.00
Difficulty: 3/5
Serves: 5-6 persons

A: Beef

1 kg brisket beef, cut into 5-cm pieces

B:  Rempah  (Spice Paste)

3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
10 dried chillies, seeded and soaked
2cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2cm galangal peeled and roughly chopped
3cm fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
5 candlenuts
125ml cooking oil (more if required)

C:  Grind To A Powder

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons black pepper

2 cinnamon sticks (do not grind)

D: Fried Shallots

6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
125ml cooking oil

E: Aromatics

3 tamarind rinds, washed and soaked
400ml coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass, white portion only, bruised
4 pandan leaves, washed and knotted
2 turmeric leaves, thinly sliced

½ cup freshly grated/desiccated coconut for kerisik
Palm sugar and salt to taste

F: Lemang (Glutinous Rice Roll)

400ml coconut cream
200ml water
1 pandan leaf, washed and knotted
600g glutinous rice washed and drained
Salt to taste

Banana leaves washed and pat dry
Cooking string


1. Lemang: Cook it ahead of time. Combine F ingredients except for glutinous rice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a quick boil over medium heat. Add rice and stir until it has fully absorbed the coconut cream mixture. Turn off heat. Set it aside to cool.

2. Lay banana leaves flat on the kitchen work surface, with leaf veins running from left to right. Cut into rectangular pieces, each measuring 25 cm x 20 cm.

3. Divide glutinous rice mixture into 5 portions. Ladle 1 portion of rice onto 1 piece of leaf. Roll each portion into a cylindrical shape. Secure both ends with cooking string, making sure there is no tear in the leaf. Repeat until all the rice is used up.

4. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Gently submerge wrapped lemang into water. Boil for at least 20-30 minutes. Remove it immediately and drain.

5. Preheat oven to 180°C for 15 minutes. Grill lemang for 15-20 minutes or until banana leaves are slightly charred. Remove from oven. Allow them to cool down.  Cut into 2.5 cm-3 cm pieces before serving.

5. In a food processor, grind B ingredients with canola oil, starting with 125ml, adding more if required.

7. Kerisik: Heat up wok or saucepan over medium heat, around 3 minutes. Add in coconut, pan-fry without oil until golden brown, approximately 5-6 minutes. Set it aside to cool. Grind to a paste in a mortar and pestle or food processor.

8. Fried Shallots: Pour 125ml oil in the same wok or saucepan. Add in shallots. Fry till golden brown and crisp. Set aside.

9. Put in blended B ingredients, ground spices, and cinnamon sticks. Cook until it reaches “pecah minyak” stage (this is when solids separate from liquid indicating that rempah is sufficiently cooked).

10. Add beef, tamarind rind, fried shallots and coconut milk, followed by lemongrass and pandan leaves.

11. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low. Let it simmer until beef is tender, approximately 40-60 minutes.

12. Add kerisik followed by turmeric leaves. Stir mixture occasionally while cooking, to prevent the bottom layer from burning. Season with salt and sugar to taste. Serve rendang with lemang.


TIP:  Although pandan is widely used in Southeast Asian desserts, it is not unusual to employ it in savoury dishes. A tropical plant belonging to the lily family, its sweet floral accents add an additional depth of flavour to the rendang.


TECHNIQUE:  Slow-cooking meat by simmering it over low heat helps to break down tough connective tissues to yield fork-tender morsels of succulent meat.


Lisa Ho mooted her blog Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen to chronicle happy memories spent with her children tucking into homecooked food.

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