With an adrenaline-fueled election just over, the experience witnessing a nation united left me feeling very proud to be Malaysian, and also feeling much rooted in our country.
Speaking of rooted and patriotism, I could not think of a better way than to celebrate with a dish that is commonly savored in ceremonial occasions. A traditional dish served in many Malay households, and one that I would like to share my twist on is… the rendang!
This is a dish so rich in herbs and spices that many of us grew up eating at kenduris and Raya open houses, and is also one that has received much heat and international limelight recently. I take pride in presenting to you this meat-free option of a rendang which features tempeh and tofu complete with a decadent and spicy sauce.
The process of rendering this dish down to a dry texture takes shorter time (compared to if you are cooking with meat), uses less oil and is still delicious. Much care goes into cooking this dish to prevent it from getting burnt but the result is well worth the effort.
Recipe: Vegan Tempeh Rendang
- 2 slabs of tempeh (cut into desired shape and size)
- 4 slabs of hard tofu (cut into 1.5cm cubes)
- 3 tbsp coconut oi.
- Rendang paste.
- Pinch of salt to taste.
- 2 thumb-sized galangal (skinned, cut into small pieces))
- 2 thumb-sized Bentong ginger (skinned, cut into small pieces)
- 1 thumb-sized turmeric (skinned, cut into small pieces)
- 2 sticks lemongrass (root only, cut into small pieces)
- 5 cloves garlic (cut into small pieces)
- 1 medium-sized red onion (cut into small pieces)
- 10 cloves shallots
- 5 red chillies (cleaned and seeds removed)
- 3 chilli padi (optional and only if you can take the heat)
- 1 tbsp water
- 5 kaffir lime leaves (chiffonade)
- 2 turmeric Leaves (chiffonade, portioned into 2)
- 3 tbsp chilli paste (chilli boh)
- 1 kerisik (from 1 coconut)
- 1 thick santan (from 1 coconut portioned into 2)
- 3 tbsp gula melaka (chopped)
- Pinch of salt to taste
- Blend galangal, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, and onion until fine to form rendang paste. Spoon out from blender and set aside.
- Lightly fry the tempeh and hard tofu with the oil in a deep pot or non-stick frying pan over medium heat until golden. Remove and set aside.
- Cook the rendang paste, chilli paste, and half of the santan over medium heat, and when it starts bubbling add kaffir lime leaves. Continue to cook.
- Add in fried tempeh and tofu. Cook until the sauce thickens and coats tempeh and tofu.
- Add in the kerisik, half of turmeric leaves, gula melaka, remaining santan. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes until semi dry (NOTE: watch heat or else it will burn and do not over stir or else you will break the tempeh)
- Add salt to taste.
- Preheat oven at 200°C.
- Spoon some rendang gravy out into a bowl, and set aside (for plating).
- Carefully transfer rendang-coated tempeh and hard tofu onto a lightly-oiled baking tray and bake (on medium rack) for 10-15 minutes.
- Spoon some rendang sauce over the tempeh to evenly coat the surface.
- Flip tempeh and hard tofu at half time, again spoon some rendang sauce over the tempeh to evenly coat the top.
- Remove and transfer it onto serving plate.