Sunday, February 22, 2015

Minangkabau Beef Rendang

Ask an Indonesian, any Indonesian you meet, to name one dish that best represent their country, and most of them will say rendang.
Authentic Indonesian rendang (there's only Indonesian rendang. Everything else is just a cheap knock-off that doesn't come even close in flavor or appearance) hails from Minangkabau highland in West Sumatra. It takes a long time to cook it and lots of practice to perfect it, but in the end you will be rewarded with delicious spicy aromatic dish that will make all other curry turn green with envy. 
Serve with steamed rice.


  • 10 shallots
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 inch fresh galangal
  • 12 fresh cayenne peppers
  • 5 Thai bird chilies, more if you want it hotter
  • 1 teaspoon toasted cumin
  • 1 teaspoon toasted coriander
  • 1 teaspoon toasted white peppercorn
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 asam kandis (garnicia xanthochymus), substitute with kokum (available from Indian spice shop), or if you're not able to find any, use 2 tablespoon of tamarind pulp
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 2 turmeric leaves (might omit if not available, but will change the flavor significantly. Strongly recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 2 pounds beef chuck or shank, cubed (about 2 x 2)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut cream
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Place shallots, garlics, ginger, galangal, peppers, cumin, coriander, and peppercorn in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the spice paste into the hot oil and cook until fragrant, stir constantly. Add coconut cream and coconut milk into the saucepan, mix thoroughly. 
  • Add beef chunks, lemongrass, lime leaves, star anise, cinnamon, asam kandis, turmeric leaves, palm sugar and salt into the mixture. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan partially so the steam can escape. Cook for 3-4 hours, stir occasionally, until the meat is very tender.
  • Remove the lid and turn up the heat. Stir and continue cooking until the moisture is almost gone, the sauce dries up and turns oily, and the meat is caramelized.
  • Serve with hot steamed rice. Rendang keeps very well, in fact it will taste better the next day. Just reheat before serving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Potato Bacon Cheddar Scallion Pierogi

I always love Pierogi, but never felt inspired to whip up a batch and make them myself. 
Until today.
And I'm wondering what took me so long to finally do it. 
Because I could have been in Pierogi heaven sooner. Way way sooner.
Because nothing's more comforting that sitting in front of the TV while it's raining outside, with a plate full of these delicious potato pockets drizzled with sour cream.
Because they're that good!


For the dough:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salt
For the filling:
  • 1 pound Yukon potatoes
  • 6 strips of Bacon
  • 1 cup grated aged Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pot of salted water for boiling
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter for frying
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallion for garnish
  • Sour cream for dipping


  • To make the dough: In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt, add sour cream, egg and salted butter and mix together. Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and pulls away from the bowl. Wrap with plastic and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to overnight. 
  • Boil the potatoes in the pot until tender. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skin and mash until smooth. Cook the bacon until crispy, then crumble and add to the bowl of mashed potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix thoroughly until well combined. Allow the filling to cool completely, then roll the filling into 1-inch balls.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter (about 5-inch in diameter), cut the dough into circles. Place a ball of filling in the center of each dough circle. Using your finger or pastry brush, wet the outer half of the circle, fold the dough in half and preset the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the dumpling in small batches until they float to the top. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and let dry. 
  • In a meanwhile, melt a stick of butter in a large frying skillet. Fry the dumpling until brown and crispy on each side. Serve with sour cream and chopped scallion while they're still warm.

Makes about 20 Pierogi

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gulai Ayam Padang (Padang Style Chicken Curry)

Padang style chicken curry, is reminiscence of my younger years, thanks to a Padang food stall in my campus that I frequented more often than I'd like to admit.
Give me a plate full of this, and somehow I'm transported back to that humble place, having lunch, books on the table next to me, and friends all around me arguing about mundane things.
I miss those moments. And I miss those people.

But memories aside, this spicy and aromatic curry has been and will always be my favorite. The spices make it uniquely Indonesian, combined with the fiery chilies to give it a personality that's undeniably of Padang cuisine.
Serve with hot steamed rice and sprinkle with some fried shallot, if desired.

  • 10 shallots
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 10 red thai bird chiles
  • 6 candlenuts
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric
  • 1 whole chicken, preferably organic and cage-free since they are smaller and less meaty, cut into 8 sections
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 lemongrass, white parts only, bruised
  • 1 dried turmeric leaf, tied in knot
  • 1 inch fresh galangal, bruised
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Place the first 6 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until they turn into paste. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add paste into the hot oil, along with lime leaves, lemongrass, turmeric leaf, and galangal. Cook until fragrant and golden, about 5 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk and tamarind pulp into the skillet, stir to combine. Bring the coconut milk to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add chicken pieces into the skillet, season with sugar and salt. Cook until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F), and the sauce thickens. Serve hot over rice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Traditional meatballs have never been a big hit in my household. 
Don't ask me why, I don't know.
But put some exotic flair to it, they will be gone in 10 minutes, followed by disappointed grunts because we have none left.
And I have to agree, traditional meatballs just can't hold a candle to these balls of deliciousness. 

It's not by any mean difficult dish to make, but it requires a little bit of time to prepare this dish. The beautiful thing about it, that you can double or triple the batch, freeze the raw meatballs, thaw and cook them whenever you have the hankering for some. 

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup flour, for dredging
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 can (28 ounces) pureed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
  • In a large bowl,  combine meat, onion, half of the garlic, 1 tablespoon of oregano, mint, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture, and roll into a ball. Repeat the process with the remaining meat. You should get about 24 meatballs. 
  • Roll each meatball in flour, place them single layer on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, make sure you have enough oil to cover about 1/2 of the height of the meatballs. Fry meatballs in batches, until browned. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess grease.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter, add the remaining garlic and chili flakes, sauté until fragrant. Add tomato puree, chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of oregano. Season sauce with salt and pepper, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced. 
  • Add meatballs into the sauce, continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes, until the meatballs are coated in sauce. Serve with basmati rice, and garnish with chopped parsley. Tzatziki sauce and Greek salad also make great companion for this dish.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spicy Corn and Pepper Soup

Meals for meatless Mondays don't have to be bland.
Simple corn soup, for instance, can be taken up a notch by adding some spiciness and smokiness into it. The result is this warming, comforting, and delicious one-of-a-kind soup that will be your family's newest favorite dish.

  • 4 ears fresh corn
  • 3 fresh red Jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Husk and remove silk. Brush corn and red peppers with some olive oil, and place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the corn and peppers are tender and slightly charred on top. Remove from the oven and cool down.
  • With a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the cobs, set aside. Cut red peppers into small dices.
  • Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until tender and translucent. Add corn, pepper, and smoked paprika, stir to mix. Gradually add chicken stock into the pot, bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add cream, salt and pepper,  and mix well. Turn off the heat.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle chopped cilantro on top. Serve with bread, if desired.

Serves 4-6