Lamb Rendang

with coconut milk

I’m sure you’ve all experienced, or at least heard of, the polar vortex that’s been happening in the majority of the United States right now. It’s cold in New York, but at least we aren’t dealing with the sickeningly cold temperatures that the Midwest is looking at right now. -60? I’d probably cry myself to sleep in the snow. Thankfully it’s just been freezing cold; we haven’t had any snow since the blizzard last week. The two combined would certainly spell disaster for NYC. Our subways struggle to run on schedule most regular days. It took me almost two hours to get to the office last Friday, the morning after the storm. How’s that for dedication? I figured that it’s better to be at work than sitting at home stuffing my face with food all day, which I probably would have made my mission if I hadn’t gone in. When I walk outside right now, it feels as if all of the moisture is being sucked out of your face. I made the mistake of yawning on my way to work in the 8 degree F weather yesterday and immediately went into a coughing fit because my lungs were clearly unprepared for how cold the incoming air would be. At least we can all say that we’ve experienced some of the coldest temperatures to date, right? Although the way things have been going the past few years, I imagine it’s not going to get better any time soon.

Lamb RendangAdorable Mia and our ticket to see Matthew McConaughey at Inside the Actors’ Studio!

Anyway, we braved the beginning of the cold on Monday night to stand in line outside to see Inside the Actors’ Studio with Matthew McConaughey. It was completely worth potentially getting frost bite for. One of my awesome friends got us tickets to the show, but we still had to wait outside for about half an hour before getting inside. McConaughey is exactly as I pictured him. He had on a sharp blue suit, seemed totally psyched to be there, made jokes and laughed with the audience, and was just all around awesome. Kramer and I are big fans, and his movies have only gotten better and better over the past few years. Lincoln Lawyer, Killer Joe, Dazed and Confused, Tropic Thunder, Magic Mike and now Dallas Buyers Club! Plus his new shoe on HBO with Woody Harrelson, True Detective, starts soon. It was loads of fun to hear him speak and let’s be honest, it wasn’t so bad watching him talk for three hours, either.

Lamb Rendang

In honor of these abominable temperatures, I wanted to share with Lamb Rendang with you. This is one of my favorite things to order out when we go for Indonesian or Malaysian, but you can find it in certain Thai restaurants, as well. Made with beef or lamb, rendang is simply braised meat, simmered until almost all of the liquid is gone, then cooked over high heat to caramelize and fry the protein into a light, crispy, slightly sweet and sticky, but still plenty spicy, dish. I adore it. Rendang makes for a delicious, simple dinner over rice or steamed vegetables, or you can get creative with it: serve with a fried egg on top, in a taco, or on a sandwich. The oils from the lamb make the end product beautifully crispy as it fries in it own fat, while the richness from the coconut milk is absorbed during cooking to make the meat wonderfully rich and tender. The spice paste, made from coriander, ginger, orange zest and more makes for a wonderfully flavorful and aromatic accompaniment. If you’ve never heard of rendang before, think of it as yet another version of a classic American barbecue dish. When you look at it, it may just look like pulled brisket or something you are more familiar with, but it’s a welcome deviation from that old standard. Kramer and I absolutely loved this meal, and ate it for two nights in a row, first just on its own alongside some roasted broccoli, then the next night as a hash with fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. You can’t go wrong! If you’re short on time, feel free to throw everything in the crock pot and crisp it up on the stove when you’re ready, or forgo that entirely and turn it into a stew. However you make it, I promise you’ll go back for seconds.

Lamb RendangCombine your paste ingredients in a food processor.

Lamb RendangUntil a fine paste has formed.

Lamb RendangCheck out that shank, ya’ll.

Lamb RendangBrown the shanks on all sides in your pot, until nicely browned.

Lamb RendangAdd your paste to the pot and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Lamb RendangThen add in your orange juice, coconut milk and sugar, mix to combine, then add in your shanks and simmer for 4 hours, lightly covered.

Lamb RendangRemove the lid, remove the bones, and begin stirring the lamb to remove any excess moisture and caramelize the meat.

Lamb RendangServe with some bread or rice and devour.

Lamb Rendang

Lamb Rendang
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
A sweet and spicy lamb dish slowly simmered in coconut milk, orange juice and ginger.
For the Paste:
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
  • zest of 1 orange
For the Lamb:
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 1-pound lamb shanks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • rice or bread, for serving
  1. Combine all of your paste ingredients in a food processor or blend with a mortar and pestle (or just chop incredibly finely) and mix until a paste is formed. Set aside.
  2. Rub your lamb shanks with salt and pepper, and heat a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add in your oil and heat, then add in the shanks and cook for 5-6 minutes or so, turning, so that all of the sides become a little browned. Remove the shanks to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add your paste to the pot, reduce the heat to medium and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes, until the paste's liquid has reduced by half. Add in the orange juice, coconut milk and sugar and stir to combine. Add the shanks back to the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, loosely cover (I put my lid on my pot a bit askew so that some of the evaporating liquid can escape) and simmer for 4 hours or so, until the meat is falling off of the bone.
  4. Once the meat is tender, remove the bones from the pot and begin stirring the meat over medium-high heat, so that the liquid continues to evaporate and the meat caramelizes and fries. When almost all of the liquid is gone and the meat is nicely browned, you are ready to eat. Serve over rice or with vegetables, or even with a fried egg. This can be made a day ahead and re-heated for the next day, but will keep well in the fridge as leftovers for up to 4 days.


14 Responses

  1. This sounds so good! I’ve never had rendang before, but it reminds me of the crispy shredded carnitas my mom used to cook slow-and-low and then crisp in a pan all crackly and delicious. Loving the curry and orange/coconut flavors here, too! Great inspiration, can’t wait to try it myself.

  2. Allyn says:

    So… this is going into my recipe rotation ASAP. Also… we just moved to the city and I NEED to know where the good Malaysian places are! My husband lived in Kuala Lumpur for 5 years growing up and it’s some of his favorite food in the world. There was a good place that we used to go to when we’d visit, but it’s sadly closed now. Please please please spill!
    I totally wimped out and worked from home Friday. Props to you for braving it.

  3. bashfulbao says:

    That is some tasty looking rendang!

  4. Deanna says:

    I just bought some oxtails that I think would be fantastic in this. Some of the pieces are so small I just might leave the bones in. Thanks for the great looking recipe!

  5. Zoe says:

    Have you seen Mud? I really liked Matthew McConaughey in that.

  6. […] Lamb Rendang from the Crepes of Wrath is making me long for the Asian supermarkets of San […]

  7. Lauren says:

    Beautiful! We only had lamb on special occasions while growing up in the US. Now living in Austalia, lamb is so readily available, cheap and so good that I’m alway on the look out for good lamb recipes! Thanks for this! It’s on the list!

  8. Diana says:

    This sounds like exactly what I need right now. I’ve recently turned to Southeast Asian fare for comfort from this hella rough winter. What do you recommend serving this with other than rice? Any fresh, salad-y ideas would be especially appreciated!

    • Sydney says:

      Maybe some roasted broccoli or sauteed spinach? A fresh bean salad or just a regular ol’ kale salad would be good, too!

  9. Kris says:

    Orange zest in the paste as listed in the ingredients (and as pictured, I think), or with the orange juice and coconut milk as written in the recipe? Not sure it makes a critical difference, but I added it with the liquids so that it wouldn’t get bitter when heating the paste.

    I also needed to add about 1/4 cup of water to the paste. There were no liquids at all to cook down and it was on the verge of burning right away. I think I’d skip the ground ginger and add some minced fresh ginger next time. Turned out absolutely delicious though. Garnished with a big handful of scallion greens.

  10. canalcook says:

    Oh wow this looks good. I always thought of rendang as a way more liquid stew, but this crispy, caramel version is lovely. I see a trip to the butchers in my future.

  11. Ammara says:

    Just made this and the meat turned out delicious and crispy, but it wasn’t as sticky and sweet as I wanted it. Wondering if that’s because the paste/coconut milk mixture started to burn and stick to the pot base three hours into the simmering. I was simmering it on very low heat. Any idea what could have gone wrong?

  12. Denise says:

    I love lamb shanks and this dish looks heavenly. I’m going to have to try it. 😊😊

  13. alice says:

    I tried to make this dish twice, and the sauce burned to a crisp both times I tried it. I made it in a high quality dutch oven, frequently doting on it and turning the meat over and stirring the sauce every 10 min or so. It still started to burn even on the lowest heat.
    I decided to stick it in the oven- which i normally do for braises. and it still burned. Not really sure what I’m doing wrong here.

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