I’ve considered making rendang bitterballen for years. Bitterballen are a Dutch deep fried snack, and are basically nothing more than a small round croquette (or ‘kroket’, as we would call them).
If the British invented tapas
Over here we have deep fried snacks like croquettes on-the-go. Bitterballen are basically a smaller version of those and used as a party or bar snack. Think of what would happen if British people had invented tapas and you’ll get the idea.
Personally I think our little portable deep fried snacks are one of the best things we’ve got going for us here, food wise, but a lot of this stuff is made with mystery meat (guess who was at the center of the horsemeat scandal…) so it’s kind of best left alone. Unless you’re drunk or sad and are on a trainstation and in dire need of a snack of course.
Anyway… Dutch people are always trying to make new versions of krokets and often they’re kinda yikes. Especially when it involves recipes from the former colonies, like Indonesia. So when Mora, the main purveyor of frozen deep fried snacks for home use, released their new rendang kroket, I had to make good on my dreams of a rendang bitterbal.
Rendang bitterbal experiment success!
Turns out: I was right. The broth from slow cooker rendang is amazing and rich. Using it to turn into a rich creamy ragout and then deep frying it is a magical wonderful thing. I may never have rendang ‘the old fashioned way’ again.
Keep in mind that you’ll need at least 2 days to put this together.
I used Koken Met Kennis’ beef kroket (Dutch) recipe as a foundation for my recipe. Their insights into how to make a good kroket turned out to be invaluable.
For my first run I had these with Donna Hay’s key lime mayo, which is a mixture of lime zest, key lime leaves and Japanese mayo. I thought the acidity worked quite well with the richness of the rendang bitterbals. But I’m still looking for the perfect dip. Hit me up in the comments if you have an idea. 🙂
Homemade rendang bitterballen
- Wooden spoon
- Plates x 3
- Deep fat fryer
- Oven tray
- Foil for covering the tray
For the rendang broth
- 18 oz - 500 gr blade or pot roast beef cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 large onions roughly chopped
- 2 stems lemon grass bruised and tied into a knot
- 4 makrut lime leaves crushed and bruised - you can find this in Asian super markets, usually in the freezer
- 2 Indonesian bay leaves fresh or dried from an Asian supermarket
- 1" - 1.5 cm galengal
- 2 T - 30 gr sambal ulek or 2 finely chopped red chilies
- 3/4 c - 200 ml coconut milk
- 3/4 c - 200 ml water
For the bitterballen
- 1.7 oz - 50 gr butter
- 1.7 oz - 50 gr plain flour
- 3 sheets gelatin soaked in water
- 2 large eggs whisked for at least 2 minutes
- 1.7 oz - 50 gr plain flour
- 2.6 oz - 75 gr breadcrumbs
- oil for deep fat frying
Step 1: Make rendang broth
- Basically chuck everything all the ingredients for the rendang broth 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.
- Remove the meat from the broth, reserving the liquids and cut the meat into smaller pieces.
- Strain the liquid through a sieve so all the onion, herbs and spices are removed. You should be left with exactly 1 3/4 c - 400 ml of the broth, if you have less you should be fine diluting it with water until you land this amount no problem.
Step 2: Make the ragout
- Get a heavy based saucepan and melt 1.7 oz - 50 gr of butter on a medium low heat before stirring in 1.7 oz/ 50 gr of flour to start your roux.
- Once the roux starts letting go of the bottom of the pan, after 2-3 minutes or so, add half of the broth. Stir continuously until the sauce starts to thicken. Now add the remainder of the broth and keep stirring to get rid of any lumps.
- Bring to the boil briefly before adding squeezing out 3 gelatine sheets and adding them in. Stir again until well-combined.
- Finally add the meat and stir again until the mixture is well-combined and has come to the boil. I like to use a whisk for this so the meat tears and is scattered in threads and lumps throughout the ragout.
- Move the ragout to an oven tray and leave to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature before covering and moving it to your fridge to cool completely for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Step 3: Make the balls
- Divide and roll the ragout into roughly 20-25 medium sized balls. If you want to be precise about it: they should be about 1.2" / 3 cm's in diameter and roughly 0.7 oz/ 20 grams in weight. Use cold water to prevent them from sticking to your hand too much and to create a smoother outer surface.
- Now set up your bread crumbing station. Coat your balls in the following order: Flour-> Egg-> Breadcrumbs-> Egg-> Breadcrumbs.
- Once you've rolled and breadcrumbed all your balls, move them back to your fridge for at least 2 hours to firm up. If you're not going to eat them all you can freeze some for later. If you do freeze them make sure they don't touch so they don't get stuck together, this will prevent a lot of heartbreak later.
- You're ready to fry!
- Heat your deep fat fryer to 360° F/ 180° C and, depending on the size of your fryer and your balls, fry your bitterbals in groups of 3 to 5 until they are golden and crisp, 3-5 minutes or so. Serve hot with mayo or sambal manis.