Recently, I was fortunate to attend Stephen Orr's lecture and book signing of his new book, The New American Herbal at Brooklyn Botanical Garden. That afternoon in the garden reminded me that spring is here and soon there will be abundance of herbs in our garden and at market. It is a thorough, informative and non intimidating book that it is an ideal reading for both a gardener and a cook.
Recipe: Beef Rendang
10 pounds boneless beef chuck (cut into cubes)
1/2 cup cooking oil
4 cinnamon sticks (about 2-inch long)
10 star anise
10 cardamom pods (bruised)
1 pound lemongrass (cut into 4-inch length and pounded)
4 cups thick unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup tamarind pulp (soak in warm water to steep then strain for the juice and discard pulp)
15 kaffir lime leaves (very finely sliced)
1 cup dessicated toasted coconut
1/2 cup sugar/palm sugar to taste
Salt to taste
4 inch galangal
1/2 cup of minced lemongrass (white part only)
15 cloves garlic
4 inch ginger
15-20 dried chillies or 8 fresh Bird's Eye Chili
Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until it turns to paste.
Heat the oil in a bottom-heavy pot, add the beef and then pounded lemongrass and stir, browning the meat.
Add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamom and stir fry them until aromatic.
Be careful not to let them burn.
Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently.
Add the kaffir lime leaves, toasted coconut and sugar/palm sugar.
Turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the cooking liquid has thickened and greatly reduced to gravy. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.
Add salt to taste. If necessary, add more sugar to taste.
Serve with steamed rice or let cool and freeze for later.