Gule Sapi (Spicy Indonesian Beef Stew)

Gule_Sapi_2013_04_14Gule Sapi is a spicy beef stew, simmered slowly in an aromatic coconut sauce. It’s called a “stew,” but it’s more like a curry, and I like to make it at any time of the year. It’s plenty spicy as is, but you can ratchet up the heat by leaving the seeds in the chilies (which is the way I like it), or you can tone down the heat by using less of the chilies and sambal ulek. This dish is delicious, so I hope you’ll try it!

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
5 candlenuts
5 red Thai chilies (aka bird chilies), seeded and minced
3 tsp sambal ulek
1/2 tsp white ground pepper
1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tsp (about 2 inches) fresh peeled, finely grated ginger
1/2 tsp Laos powder (or 1 tsp finely grated fresh galangal)
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
2 whole cloves
2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp tamarind water
2 tsp peanut or canola oil

2 lbs beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 additional tsp peanut or canola oil
1 additional tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1 cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)
3 salam leaves
1 stem lemongrass — use bottom 6 inches; remove outer leaves, and pound the bottom end with the side of a knife
1 14-oz can lite coconut milk

Add first 15 ingredients (through peanut/canola oil) to a food processor. Process to a fine paste and set aside.

Heat 2 tsp peanut/canola in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and 1 tsp salt, and brown for 5 minutes. Leaving the juices in the pan, remove the meat and set aside.

Reduce heat slightly. Add the paste mixture to the pan and gently saute for 5 minutes. Add the meat back to the pan. Add the water, cinnamon stick, salam leaves and lemongrass. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes.

Remove the lid, and add the coconut milk. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for about an hour, until the beef is tender, and the sauce is very thick. Remove the salam leaves, lemongrass and cinnamon stick. Serve with white coconut rice, or Indonesian yellow rice (nasi kuning), and any Indonesian relishes or pickled vegetables you have on hand.

Serves 4 to 6

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