This dish is a Malaysian spin on an Indonesian recipe from Dutch colonial times. The cooking technique is a different style of braising, where you cook a relatively tender cut of beef (such as sirloin) for not a very long period of time — the beef turns out wonderfully, and to me, the cloves, lime juice and fennel seeds are what make the delicious sauce! I hope you’ll give this dish a try!
2 beef sirloin steaks (about 1 1/4 lbs total), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 Tbsp kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fennel
3 candlenuts (or macademia nuts)
2 tsp black pepper corns
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
2 1/2 cups water
5 whole cloves
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 green onion, finely sliced
In a medium glass bowl, whisk together the kecap manis and lime juice. Add the sliced beef and mix well. Set aside and let stand for half an hour.
Combine the ground coriander, cumin, fennel, candlenuts and black peppercorns. Grind to a paste with a mortar and pestle or small food processor, adding a couple teaspoons of water.
Heat oil in a wok or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the spice paste to the pan and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the beef with its marinade, the tamarind, water, cloves, salt and sugar. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for a few more minutes, reducing the sauce until thick. Garnish with the green onion and serve with steamed jasmine rice.