Every weekend I ask my husband what he would like for dinner over the course of the next week, and every week my husband says “I dunno,” and every week I pull out a little bit more of my hair. Recently, when I got frustrated at his lack of input, he hopped on google and looked up “Most delicious food in the world.” He came up with a list of the 50 most delicious foods as voted on by people on CNNs website. I fully plan to tackle more of the top rated entrees… However, this was my attempt at the world’s most delicious food; Beef Rendang, from Indonesia.
One of the main ingredients in the rendang sauce is tamarind paste. Tamarind paste is an elusive creature that is very rare in the area of the US we live in, which happens to be a food desert and cultural wasteland. So I turned to my BFF, amazon.com and had it shipped to my house. I have never had or even seen a fresh tamarind. I know that many Asian recipes call for it, and that they flavor candies and drinks with it in Mexico… But I have never tried those either. Basically, I had no idea what to expect, but I was terribly excited. I opened it the second it showed up, to discover that it is, in fact, a richly colored deep brown red, thick goo, which is ferociously tart and slightly bitter.
My optimism is waning, but not gone, as the recipe calls for decent quantities of two of the loves of my life- fresh ginger and garlic. The recipe also called for fresh lemon grass, which I was sadly unable to procure, and also fresh chili peppers… Which our grocery store also does. not. carry. (WTF?) So I substituted some canned chilis and cried a little on the inside.
So, onion, chili, garlic, ginger, tamarind, and coconut milk, turmeric, cumin, and coriander, all go for a whirl in the food processor.
And of course, because I’m curious, I take a taste. And the sauce is still wicked tart. I am feeling less and less positive, but it still has 6 hours of melding with the meat in the slow cooker to mellow out.
I cross my fingers and pour the sauce over the prime rib chunks.
Incidentally, we do have a wonderful local butcher shop where we buy most of our meat.
So I fire up the slow cooker, and wander away. 6 hours later and the beef is tender, and pulls apart and is gorgeous, but the sauce is still tart! And remarkably non-complex for all the different flavors that went into it. I am dissapoint. However. My husband enjoyed it. I quote, “It’s not my favorite ever, but it’s damned good and I can see why it made the top 50.” So, perhaps I’m being closed minded, but I don’t care for sour meat.
- 3 lbs prime rib, cut into 1-2-inch pieces
- 8 red chilies, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, tender insides finely sliced
- 1/3 cup tamarind paste (combined with 1/3 cup warm water)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (ground chiles, not the chili pepper spice blend)
- 1 (15 ounce) can light coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Put the beef in the slow cooker.
In a blender or food processor combine the chilis, onion, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, tamarind paste, 1 cup warm water, and the spices.
Puree until smooth, then pour over the beef.
Stir in the coconut milk and cook, covered, on the low setting for 5-6 hours.
The beef will be tender and the sauce will be dark brown.
Ladle most of the sauce into a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat to reduce until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
Pour the sauce back in the cooker and cook on high for 30 minutes to 1 hour longer.
Stir in the sugar and season with salt to taste.
Serve over steamed rice.