Unless I’ve overlooked somewhere, this is the first (proper!) Asian country in the alphabet (or rather the UN members list). Yes, I know Afghanistan and Azerbaijan are both Asia, but I mean Eastern Asia, land of lemongrass, ginger and other deliciousness!
For some reason (mainly my awful geographical knowledge) I’d always assumed Brunei was in the middle east. In fact, Brunei is found on the middle of the island of Borneo. Borneo is split between Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia and Brunei is entirely surrounded by Malaysia.
It wasn’t surprising, therefore, to come across lots of names of spicy dishes served with rice or noodles I’d previously heard of as Malaysian dishes. I decided on a Beef Randang, although chose to use some Water Buffalo meat we had in the freezer which is a common meat in Brunei.
The method for making rendang came about as a way of preserving meat in a hot climate. The spices are thought to have anti bacterial properties and allow the beef to be kept for weeks. Rendang can exist in a wet form (curry like as I have cooked here) or cooked until it becomes dried. The dry form allows the meat to be kept for months. Water buffalo is eaten as a poor beef substitute in the region but the long cooking time involved in rendang is ideal to soften the meat.
The complex mix of flavours included cumin seed, coriander seed, lemon grass, garlic, onion, ginger, galangal, chilli, kafir lime leaves, tamarind and dark soy sauce. Again, there are many recipes for rendang online but I used one from an Asian cook book. The raw meat was simmered in the spice mix and coconut milk for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. This is one of those dishes best made in advanced to allow the flavours to all infuse together. The flavour of the dish was great; really deep and complex due to the number of different flavours involved. I really enjoyed it. The shin of buffalo was good; very tender and the connective tissue had broken down to leave a soft, glossy feel to the dish. The randang was topped off with some crispy fried shallots for a bit of crunch. Delicious!