The sauce in this amazing Indonesian curry might be invisible, but you'll know it's there. As it reduces, the water evaporates, leaving behind the fat and flavor that make this dish so unique and addictive. Originally, cooking meat this way helped preserve it in hot and humid Indonesia. Turns out, people continued making it long after refrigeration came around. Serve with steamed rice, garnished with cilantro and lime if desired.

Chef John
Advertisement

Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cut beef chuck into 2-inch pieces.

    Advertisement
  • Combine shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, serrano and Fresno chiles, salt, red pepper flakes, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until paste is very finely ground, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spatula.

  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the curry paste. Cook and stir until it starts to dry out, then stir in the beef. Add coconut milk, tamarind paste, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Fill up the empty can of coconut milk with water and pour it into the pan. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a simmer.

  • In the meantime, bruise lemongrass with the back of your knife. Cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces and add to the curry. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beef is fork-tender and sauce is fully reduced, about 4 hours. Stir more frequently as water reduces; add more water or lower the heat if sauce is reducing faster than beef is softening.

  • Remove lemongrass to serve. For best results, let cool and serve the next day.

Chef's Notes:

Feel free to use a fattier cut like beef shank or short rib in this.

Substitute red onion for the shallots and ginger for the galangal if desired. If you don't have tamarind paste, use zest from a lime and lemon, plus juice from 1 lime.

If you do want some sauce to serve with it, simply add more water during the cooking, or cover for part of the time. If you cook this the day before, as recommended, you'll want to add a big splash of water when you reheat it. Cover until heated through, then uncover, crank the heat, and cook until it's as dry as you like.

Nutrition Facts

380 calories; 30.1 g total fat; 64 mg cholesterol; 61 mg sodium. 10.4 g carbohydrates; 18.5 g protein; Full Nutrition

Reviews (11)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
11/24/2019
This dish is incredible. My husband and I have made it three times and it still knocks our socks off when we get to have that first bite. Watch the video!! It’s the best way to make sure you’re interpreting the recipe correctly and he gives little verbal tips as well. If spicy isn’t your thing go jalapeño instead of Serrano and leave out the chili flakes. I do recommend cilantro on top, personal preference. Thank you, Chef John! Read More
(4)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
02/19/2019
Not a fan. I love spicy. I have always roasted and ground my own spices I even grow as much as I can myself. Unfortunately My wife has a LEGIT medical issue that prohibits her from eating spicy food so I only used 1 Serrano pepper for this dish. The heat was still farrr to high as all these flavors concentrate as it reduces. I wasn t impressed with this. Read More
11 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 7
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
11/24/2019
This dish is incredible. My husband and I have made it three times and it still knocks our socks off when we get to have that first bite. Watch the video!! It’s the best way to make sure you’re interpreting the recipe correctly and he gives little verbal tips as well. If spicy isn’t your thing go jalapeño instead of Serrano and leave out the chili flakes. I do recommend cilantro on top, personal preference. Thank you, Chef John! Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
11/24/2019
This dish is incredible. My husband and I have made it three times and it still knocks our socks off when we get to have that first bite. Watch the video!! It’s the best way to make sure you’re interpreting the recipe correctly and he gives little verbal tips as well. If spicy isn’t your thing go jalapeño instead of Serrano and leave out the chili flakes. I do recommend cilantro on top, personal preference. Thank you, Chef John! Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
02/01/2019
Since you basically dump everything into the pan it was easy to prep. But I had to baby it too much while cooking because the beef kept sticking and burning. Probably shouldn't have used a cast iron. But it still tasted amazing...the next day! Also all my lemongrass broke down and was hard to find. Read More
(4)
Advertisement
Rating: 5 stars
11/16/2019
This one is a keeper. I’ve made it 3 times now and I’ve done a few edits each time but overall it’s a great recipe. What I normally do is reduce the salt to just about 1/2 tsp and half the recipe but still add all the coconut milk in lieu of the water. I like my food spicy so it’s easy to add extra chili. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
11/24/2019
Except for the time to make I love it Read More
Rating: 4 stars
04/09/2020
Was a great recipe. Didn't have lemon grass so I searched for a substitute and found lemon zest. Definitely will make again- love Malay food ! X Read More
Advertisement
Rating: 5 stars
10/16/2019
it's an excellent recipe. Great taste Everytime I made it. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
04/13/2019
Warning! The written recipe omits salt. It looks like Chef John adds about a tablespoon to his food processor in the video. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
01/09/2020
Made this tonight - turned out fantastic even though I forgot to put the garlic in the curry paste and didn't add it until halfway through the braise. Which I guess is the advantage of a 4-hour braise; still had plenty of time for the garlic to suffuse. One note: on Chef John's blog this recipe has a tablespoon of kosher salt in the curry paste whereas this version doesn't. I suspect that's an oversight - towards the end I tasted it and found the flavors really weren't coming together so I added salt until things improved which was about a tablespoon worth. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
04/20/2020
This dish was amazing and so flavorful. I didn't have tamarind paste so I used the substitute that Chef John recommended on his website and used lime zest and the juice of 1 lime instead. I also used thai chili peppers since I had that lying around instead of the fresno and serrano chili pepper. It takes a long time to make and you have to watch the food carefully so the beef doesn't get burned, but the end result is definitely worth it. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
02/19/2019
Not a fan. I love spicy. I have always roasted and ground my own spices I even grow as much as I can myself. Unfortunately My wife has a LEGIT medical issue that prohibits her from eating spicy food so I only used 1 Serrano pepper for this dish. The heat was still farrr to high as all these flavors concentrate as it reduces. I wasn t impressed with this. Read More