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Rating: 4.65 stars
17 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 13
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0

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.

Recipe Summary

prep:
25 mins
cook:
4 hrs 5 mins
total:
4 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
8
Yield:
8 servings
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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.

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  • 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; protein 18.5g; carbohydrates 10.4g; fat 30.1g; cholesterol 64.5mg; sodium 60.9mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (12)

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
17 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 13
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0
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
(6)
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
11/16/2019
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)
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Rating: 5 stars
11/24/2019
Except for the time to make I love it Read More
Rating: 4 stars
08/08/2020
It tastes best when you are actually cooking it because of all the juices. I recommend saving some sauce or sludge from the pan to pour over the meat because it dried a little to fast on top of my rice. Still even after that it was super flavorful, tender and my mom and dad thought it was delicious. I would make this again. Awesome smells and flavor. I did not use Korean red pepper flakes or galangal. I substituted by using a little chili powder, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Just a tiny bit. 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
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Rating: 5 stars
11/07/2020
The flavors were wonderful. This was an amazing dish with flavors that would sneak up on you and make you say "Wow"! It was fairly easy to make and just took some to prepare. I used my InstantPot and it cooked for 2o minutes on high with 15 minutes natural release. Cooking in the pressure cooker doesn't allow evaporation so I had more sauce which allowed me to slather the dish over Asian noodles and it was great. Read More
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: 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