Food For Thought: Breaking the Fast With a Classic Dish
Saturday was the first Sunday of Ramadan, the holy fasting month. During this month, food plays an important role, and we have many regional Indonesian dishes that are favorites for breaking the fast, such as kolak and rendang.
Kolak is a classic and popular dish used to break the fast. The combination of sweet banana, with or without sweet potatoes, creamy palm sugar and coconut sauce with a hint of cinnamon and the fragrance of pandan leaves, is perfect.
Rendang is a popular fast-breaking dish as well. A dried beef curry enhanced with a variety of spices and roasted coconut, rendang is originally from Padang, West Sumatra, but it has become one of the country’s most beloved dishes.
Another beef dish popular during Ramadan is semur daging, a classic Indonesian beef stew. This dish is traditionally made with a lot of soy sauce as flavoring. Soy sauce, both sweet and salty, is an important cooking ingredient in the Indonesian kitchen.
Sweet soy sauce has a thick, honey-like texture, while the salty version is more watery. Both are ideal seasonings for many contemporary dishes such as salad dressing, sauce, soup and stews.
Garlic, shallots, chilies, onion, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, honey, lime, lemon and rosemary are only a few of the spices and herbs that can make a perfect match with soy sauce.
For this week’s recipe, I use sweet soy sauce in presenting my take on semur daging,with plenty of added shallots, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper to give the dish a more aromatic taste. Enjoy!
Slow-cooked beef with caramelized shallots and spices
This stew is relatively simple to make, but cooking the beef takes a long time. You can add carrots and potatoes to make it a hearty one-pot meal, but for a more traditional take, serve the stew with brown rice and your favorite stir-fried vegetables. To make it a vegetarian dish, replace the beef with potatoes, carrot, portobello mushrooms and French beans, or simply replace the beef with tempeh or tofu. Serves 6-8.
1 kilogram beef suitable for stew or rendang, cut into long chunks
100 grams plain flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic
250 grams shallots, peeled and whole
6-7 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)
1 tablespoon ground cloves, black pepper and nutmeg
1.5 liters of water or homemade
Salt to taste
1. Dry the beef with a kitchen towel and season with salt and black pepper. Coat each piece in the flour, patting off the excess.
2. Heat a frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and brown the beef chunks for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Set aside.
3. Heat a new pan. Saute half of the shallots for 1 minute, then add the garlic and saute until golden brown.
4. Add the beef, mix well and add the water or stock.
5. Add the soy sauce and all spices and simmer for 2 hours or until the beef is very tender.
6. Add the rest of the shallots at the one and a half hour mark.
7. Taste the stew when the beef is tender. When it has finished cooking, the texture of the sauce should be creamy, and some of the shallots will be tender but still whole.
8. Add salt and black pepper to taste.