Opa Bob’s Beef Rendang Padang Revisited

By Mieke

Rendang Padang is one of my favorite dishes in the world. Out of all the things my grandparents set out on the rice table for most of the family, on what in my mind was every Sunday, rendang was the first thing I loved after their fried chicken. I have never encountered other people adding new potatoes to their rendang, but that’s how my Sumatran grandfather made it and I cannot veer from tradition in this.

Not only that. It just works really well: the potatoes soak up the flavor of the rendang as it simmers. And the more rendang flavored things I can eat the better. So there.

Rendang Padang from the slow cooker

I used to make this on the stove top, stirring my ass off during the final hour to get the rendang to the right level of dryness without burning and often stirring the meat into pieces during the process. These days I make it in a slow cooker and dry it out in a wok. Slow cooking really helps hold the beef together, softening the meat while inserting maximum flavor.

The meat comes out succulent and flavorful. I tend to double the recipe so I can freeze it in portions and always have some at the ready or turn it into rendang bitterballen.

Pressure cooker rendang Padang (added May 2023)

I am a recent pressure cooker convert. Like many, I was always afraid of explosive pressure cookers  lore, and my earliest (and really only) memory of pressure cooking was on a vacation back in the 80’s when some French lady would stand on her balcony releasing the pressure outside for what I then assumed were safety purposes. But I got my Ninja Foodi a few years ago, mainly because I wanted one appliance that could do multiple things and I really wanted and air fryer (highly recommend this for anyone with energy issues) and the pressure cooker part just came with it.

Stuck in my slow cooker ways, as evidenced above, I initially only used it to make a 7 minute (!) no-stir (!!!) risotto, but in the past year I’ve begun exploring other uses for it and honestly I don’t know why we were all slow cooking when we could’ve been pressure cooking. I’m sure there’s a science behind it but pressure cooking just really intensifies flavor and it’s really f-ing fast, especially for things that normally take days. Pressure cooking is perfect for stocks, broths, stews, soups and anything that needs to be tender a.f. All those types of dishes now get pressure cooked. I just Google the main ingredient, whether it be a bean or a meat and check the technique (pre-saute or roast or no? timings and liquids added mostly) and off I go. Give me high and fast over slow and low any day.

So I figured pressure cooking also has to be perfect for my beloved rendang.

For my venture into pressure cooker rendang I used my grandfather’s ingredients and combined them with Manila Spoon’s technique for pressure cooker rendang and I was immediately off to a winner. I took her idea of adding fish sauce as well because fish sauce makes everything better. And I’ve started adding fresh turmeric because it makes the rendang even more earthy. I have updated the recipe below to reflect this ‘new’ cooking method and improved ingredient list.

What do I eat with beef rendang padang?

Traditionally rendang padang is generally not part of the rice table, it is eaten on its own with some plain white rice and used for ceremonies. I serve this as part of a rice table sometimes anyway, just because it’s my favorite Indonesian dish and when people want Indonesian or Dutch-Indonesian food from me they tend to want a rice table. When I don’t serve it as part of a rice table I usually have some kind of basic green vegetable with it, like green beans or broccoli, though I’ve been thinking some smashed vinegary cucumber would be perfect to offset the richness of the rendang as well.

Methods listed in order of preference.

Opa Bob's Beef Redang Padang Recipe

Dorothy Porker
My Sumatran grandfather's recipe adjusted to make life a little easier by using a pressure or slow cooker. Stove top recipe also included. Methods listed in order of preference.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Slow cooker 8 hours
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 4


  • Pressure cooker OR
  • Slow cooker AND/ OR
  • Wok OR
  • Dutch oven or other heavy pot


  • 1 T sunflower oil or other neutral oil
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 2 T sambal ulek or 2 finely chopped fresh red chilipeppers (capsicum annuum is best)
  • 2 stems lemon grass tied into a knot
  • 4 makrut lime leaves crushed and bruised - you can find these in Asian super markets, usually in the freezer
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves fresh or dried from an Asian supermarket
  • 4 cm - 2" galengal cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cm - 1" turmeric cut into 2 pieces
  • 500 gr - 1 oz blade or pot roast beef cut into rough chunks, beef cheek is also really good for this
  • 1 1/4 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 C - 250 ml water if using the pressure cooker
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 piece marrowbone optional
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 3/4 c - 200 ml water if using the slow cooker or Dutch oven
  • 5 oz - 150 gr new potatoes optional, note I have not yet tried this with the pressure cooker method


To make rendang Padang in the pressure cooker

  • Use the saute setting to saute 2 finely chopped onions until they've become translucent, then add 2 T of sambal ulek or 2 finely chopped chilipeppers and stir for 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the 2 stems lemongrass smashed and tied into a knot, 4 makrut lime leaves, 2 Indonesian bay leaves, 4 cm of galengal, 2 cm of turmeric.
  • Add the 500 gr of beef cut into rough chunks and stir so the meat is coated in the spice mix. Add 1 1/2 T of brown sugar, stir and add 1/2 c water to deglaze the pan. Turn off saute mode.
  • Add 1 T of fish sauce and marrowbone (if using), cover and set to seal. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
  • Allow for natural release for 10 minutes (i.e. don't manually release the pressure until after 10 minutes have passed).
  • Remove the lemongrass, lime and bay leaves, galengal and turmeric (you don't have to but this just makes stirring a little easier and the flavors have already developed during the pressure cooking process).
  • Add 200 ml of coconut milk. Set to saute and stir gently until the liquid has cooked down fully and has started to release it's oil. This can take up to between 30 mins and 1 hour. Stir gently to avoid the meat breaking apart too much. If you notice the meat is so tender it breaks up too much, take out the meat and reduce down the liquids as far as you can instead, before adding the meat back in.

To make rendang Padang in a slowcooker

  • Basically chuck all the ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. I am sure shorter and on high would work equally well, but I never do anything fast in my slow cooker. It seems to defeat the purpose.
  • Once you've finished slow cooking, use the saute setting (or transfer to a wok on a medium high heat) and stir gently until almost all of the liquids have evaporated, the oil starts to seperate and the meat is coated in a thin layer of caramelized sauce. This can take anywhere from 30 mins to 1 hour. It can help to remove the bulkier spices and the new potatoes for ease of stirring, the latter can be added back in again later.

To make rendang Padang in a Dutch oven

  • Chuck all the ingredients, except the new potatoes, in a Dutch oven or other heavy based pot and bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat as low as your stove will go and leave to simmer for 2 hours with a tiny corner of the lid propped open with a wooden spoon.
  • Add 5 oz - 150 gr of new potatoes, skin on and leave to simmer for another hour.
  • During the 4th and final hour your rendang should start to dry. Remove the lid, stay close and stir often but gently, to keep the meat intact. You're looking more for a folding than a stirring motion. The rendang is ready when almost all of the liquids have evaporated, the meat is coated in a thin layer of caramelized sauce and the oil starts to separate from the rest of the dish.
  • Serve with rice and whatever vegetable side you fancy.


If you want to make rendang bitterballen, run the liquid through a sieve after step 1 of the slow cooking process or slow cook your rendang with the lid closed on the stove top for 3 hours before straining the liquid or step 5 of the pressure cooker method.  
Rendang will keep in a closed container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. To reheat, bring to room temperature before frying it up in a dry non-stick frying pan until all the meat is heated through.
Keyword Asian food, asian recipes, Indonesian food, Indonesian recipe, rendang, slow cooked, slow cooker

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