Friday, 30 November 2012

Rendang Tofu

I have something to celebrate today - this is my 200th blog post! *Fireworks*

I'm so glad that I'm celebrating with this recipe, as well, because it was one of my absolute favourites from Indonesia Month. It's Rendang Tofu, with a few slight changes. Rendang is traditionally made with meat, cooked in a curry sauce thickened with ground coconut and cooked down until it becomes very dry. Clearly, I've made mine with tofu. I also replaced the toasted dried coconut with fresh coconut (because I had a fabulous coconut grinder) and because it was such lovely fluffy fresh grated coconut I just didn't want to grind it up in the food processor, so I didn't. Finally, I didn't actually cook this dish down as much as I could (as you can see from the picture it's not that dry). This was for 2 reasons, 1) I was impatient to eat it because it looked SO yummy and 2) cooked down and dry doesn't sound that appealing to me. But you could easily cook it down another 40-60 minutes to make it dryer if you want to.

Despite (or maybe because of?) all the changes I made, it was quite spectacular. It was definitely a highlight of my Indonesian dinner party and one that I will definitely be making again - although next time I'll probably be making it with the dried coconut so that I don't have to spend time grating a fresh one! However, if you are substituting dried coconut you will probably end up with a thicker dryer sauce without increasing the cooking time, as the dry coconut will absorb some of the liquid.

400g hard tofu, drained
2 tbsp vegetable oil
400ml coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup freshly grated coconut (or substitute 1/2 cup dessicated)

Curry Paste
2 fresh chilli
4 shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 onion
1x 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1x 1cm piece of galangal, peeled and chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, while part only (tough outer layers removed)
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp tamarind puree, dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water

To Make
1. Slice the tofu in half both horizontally and vertically, so that you end up with 4 large pieces about 1.5cm thick.
2. Heat the oil in a large wok or frypan and fry the tofu slices, turning half way, until browned on both sides. Drain on some kitchen paper. Chop into bite sized cubes.
3. Combine all the ingredients for the curry paste in a food processor and purée until you have a smooth paste.
4. Reheat any remaining oil in the wok (if there is no oil left, add another tablespoon). Add the curry paste and fry for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock and tofu to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
6. Add the coconut and cook, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes. You may increase the cooking time by 10-20 minutes if you want to cook down the sauce and make it dryer.
8. Serve.

Serves 4, over rice.

This month I'm featuring lots of amazing recipes from Indonesia!
Check out my other Indonesian recipe posts:


  1. It's a slow-cook dish, worth doing it that way if you can swing it. But we're talking an extra 5 hours rather than an extra 10 minutes.
    Looks great!

    1. Yeah I read that while I was researching, however, I thought that would probably only be necessary for meat, as tofu doesn't need to cook that long?

    2. I never ate rendang, because I've vegetarian/vegan for 31 years, long before rendang blipped into view. But it always looks stringy and dryish. The rendang I've seen in Indon restaurants in Australia is maybe made a bit runnier for palatibility. But overall the concept is to cook it down and concentrate the flavours. I'd probably still do it that way with tofu, in this case to overcome some of the inherent wateriness. Clue: it should be sticky/dry enough that you could scoop it out of the bowl with your fingers, rather than a spoon.
      Congratulations on a worthy recipe and a great Indonesian month!
      Also to mention is that Asian groceries often have emping melinjo (bitternut crackers) which would be a great flourish to this or the gado-gado. The coin-sized chips swell up when fried (or can be done in microwave), then are crumbled on top of the dish.
      Silahkan makan!

    3. The meat isn't the only thing that benefits from the slow cooking--the shallots and spices do as well. When you cook slow and long, the shallots carmelize and the rest of the spices are given time to really mingle and blend together. The taste is so much improved and harmonious when you let it go in the slow cooker! It will go from the bright yellow color shown in the picture to a dark caramel color (result of onions carmelizing). It is worth the time!

    4. Also to note, probably don't want to slow cook the tofu that long... maybe put it in towards the end.

  2. Soooo many spices, sounds awesome.

  3. thanks for sharing.