Duck or Chicken Rendang

Rendang Itik, Rendang Ayam

Beef rendang, which is the traditional Padang dish, is not included in the many different dishes served as nasi Kapau, because beef rendang is always to be found in any warung or restoran Padang. But nasi Kapau usually includes rendang made with chicken or duck (my own favourite). There are two important differences between this and beef rendang. First, duck or chicken rendang contains tamarind, which beef rendang does not; this is another reason why nasi Kapau, with its hot-and-sour note in every dish, excludes beef rendang. Second, duck or chicken rendang is usually not cooked for as long as beef; it retains some of the luscious coconut-based sauce, and should perhaps, strictly speaking, be called a kalio. Another reason for including this as a separate recipe is that, although most of the other ingredients are the same as for beef rendang, the duck or chicken must be put into the pan much later.

The coconut milk and the paste must be cooked for at least 1 hour before the duck or chicken meat is put in. The same applies to cassava rendang, which is often made by the people of Payakumbuh, and to rendang jaring, another favourite of the Minangkabau people. Jaring is the Minangkabau word for this vegetable; in Java and elsewhere it is called jengkol.

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Ingredients

  • 1.7 litres/3 pints/ cups coconut milk
  • 6 shallots or 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1–3 tsp sambal ulek or 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 stem of lemon grass, cut into 3 and bruised
  • 2.5-cm/1-inch piece of galingale or ½ tsp powder
  • 2 salam leaves or bay leaves
  • 1 turmeric leaf (optional)
  • 1–2 tsp salt
  • 1 duck or chicken, weighing about 2 kg/4 lb, cleaned and cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tbsp very thick tamarind water (optional)

Method

Put the coconut milk and all the other ingredients, except the duck or chicken and tamarind water, into a large saucepan or a wok. Bring to the boil, stir, and lower the heat a little, so that the coconut milk will just bubble gently. Stir this from time to time. After an hour the liquid will have reduced somewhat. Add the duck or chicken pieces and tamarind water, if used, and continue cooking as before, stirring occasionally, for another 1 or 1½ hours.

The liquid is now quite thick. Lower the heat a little, and continue to simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is very thick and appears to be oily. This is because the coconut milk, after long cooking, has become oil, with the blondo or sediment well blended with the spices. Increase the heat, and go on cooking, stirring often, until all the oil has been absorbed by the meat and sediment. Adjust the seasoning. Serve hot with plenty of rice, accompanied by any green vegetables. Or, of course, this rendang can be served as part of your nasi Kapau.

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