Besengek Daging (Beef in Assorted Spices)

This fragrant, spicy dish reheats wonderfully. Freeze remaining coconut milk for another use. Tamarind can be bought in many different forms. I prefer the tamarind concentrate found in Asian stores. Kemiri (also called candlenuts) are the nuts used in Malaysia; Brazil or macadamia nuts make a fine substitute. Although the recipe calls for belachan (shrimp paste) I found anchovy paste to be a good alternative. Serve with rice and sambal.

Ready time: 2 1/2 hours
Servings: 4

1 cup coconut milk

2 tsp tamarind concentrate, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water

1/2 cup sliced red onion

2 tbsp sliced garlic

1/3 oz (10 g) Brazil or macadamia nuts

1 tsp hot chili powder

2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp belachan or anchovy paste

1 stalk lemongrass

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 lb (1 kg) of beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 curry leaves or bay leaves

1/2 cup water (optional)

Combine coconut milk, 1 tbsp tamarind liquid, onion, garlic, nuts, chili, coriander, salt, sugar and anchovy paste in a mini-chop and process into a smooth sauce. Reserve sauce.

Cut off bottom 3 inches of lemongrass, cut into 2. Smash with the back of a knife to release flavour.

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Heat oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add oil. Season beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear on each side until brown, about 1 minute a side. Remove meat to a plate. Pour sauce into skillet and bring to a boil. Stir in beef, curry leaves and lemongrass. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until beef is tender. Reheat when needed.

Add water during cooking if the sauce evaporates too quickly. Sauce should be thick.