I can be an incredibly cheap person at times. Which is probably why I absolutely love flea markets. It’s like a treasure hunt! Except you don’t know what you’re looking for, so it’s always a pleasant surprise. It was at a flea market that I chanced about a cookbook on Indonesian cuisine. Actually, the seller had the entire collection of the series. I was so very tempted to buy them all, alas, I knew I didn’t have the space to house 10 new cookbooks and I wasn’t particularly in the mood for a lecture on impulse buying from my husband.
So I settled for just one. And I must report that I am quite pleased with it. You all know my Dad is Indonesian-Chinese, so I have a penchant for Indonesian food. But I have to say, I find Indonesian cuisine one of the hardest to master. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy and they use so many different spices. Maybe it’s because they use so many different spices, it’s often hard to find the balance and get the taste right. Maybe it’s just me.
One ingredient that you’ll find showing its face a lot in Indonesian cooking is tamarind. Traditionally, you buy a pack of tamarind paste, seeds and all, and you mix it with water before running it through a sieve to get a juice of sorts. But I’m lazy (like you don’t already know that) and I used to avoid dishes that used tamarind just because I didn’t want to bother with this process. I’ve since discovered a wonderful product that allowed me to skip this step. Now, I know tamarind concentrates have been around for a while but this isn’t a concentrate (I’ve never figured out how to use tamarind concentrates). I just use this 1:1 in any recipe that calls for tamarind and I haven’t had a complaint since.
This was the first dish I picked out to try and I’ve since made it several times, with tiny adjustments. It’s a very flavourful and aromatic dish. The flavour is very intense so it pairs with steamed white rice brilliantly. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.
Semur Daging (Indonesian Braised Beef)
Adapted from Küchen Der Welt: Indonesien
- 750g beef chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 Tbsp tamarind paste
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- fresh ginger, the size of a thumb, grated
- 1 chilli, left whole
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp palm sugar
- 4 Tbsp soy sauce
- Mix tamarind paste with 300ml of water. Set aside. Run it through a sieve if you’re using regular tamarind paste.
- Heat 3-4 Tbsp of oil in a wok on high. Add garlic, ginger and chilli to the wok and sauté till fragrant but not burnt, about 30 seconds to a min.
- Add beef in batches and cook till nice and brown.
- Deglaze with the tamarind-water mixture, add all remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on, on low heat for 1 – 1½ hour.
- Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium. Continue to simmer until sauce is almost cooked off.
- Serve with steamed white rice.