Rendang is one of Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s most iconic dish. However, it is quite unorthodox to make rendang with pork as many Malaysians and Indonesians are Muslims, and therefore naturally prefer halal meat. Beef and chicken are most common but I am giving pork a try because I have plenty of pork shoulder that I bought when they were on sale.
A classic rendang is a dry coconut stew made by slow cooking meat with spices. It often has notes of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves with a subtle sweetness from local palm sugar called gula melaka. Recipes seem to vary from place to place but in my opinion, nothing beats a Malay style rendang that is finished with some kerisik, a roasted coconut paste. Rendang goes very well with plain white rice or turmeric rice and as with any stew, it tastes better if you let it sit overnight.
- 600 g pork shoulder, cut into 2-3 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp shallots, fine chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger, fine chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, fine chopped
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 lemongrass, bruised
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised
- beef stock/water
- 200 ml coconut milk
- gula melaka
- 1 tbsp or so kerisik
- Sear pork shoulder cubes until brown at all sides in a heavy bottomed pot.
- Reserve seared pork in a bowl.
- Deglaze and remove browned bits with some stock. Reserve the jus in the same bowl as the pork.
- Saute shallots, ginger, and garlic with 2 tablespoons of oil until fragrant.
- Add the spices, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves and saute until fragrant.
- Add pork and jus to the pot and add coconut milk and enough stock to go up the meat halfway.
- Season with a bit of salt, pepper, and gula melaka to the desired sweetness.
- Bring it to a simmer and slowly cook until the meat is “empok” or fork tender, the oil separates, and noticeably dry, at least 2 hours. If the liquid dries up halfway and the meat is not yet tender, top with more stock and continue cooking.
- About 15 minutes before cooking is done, add kerisik to the stew.
- Serve with white rice.