Sunday, 17 November 2013

Daging Bumbu Bali - Balinese Beef Stew

I am fortunate enough to be able to travel around the world... and Bali, without a doubt is one of the most beautiful places I visited.  The gorgeous beaches, the sun, water sports, rice fields, etc... which to be honest normally isn't my kind of place... if you know me, I don't do well in the heat and humidity.  My kind of holiday will be somewhere in a mountain, like the Swiss Alps where it is cold or the Scandinavia... I haven't been but I imagine it's gonna be cold over there and I love it... 

But anyway, I love Bali and I actually look forward to visiting again soon.  What I most excited about is the delicious food... babi guling (suckling pig) , bebek betutu (Balinese roast duck), sate lilit (minced chicken/fish satay), and many more... but until then I am fulfilling my cravings with my Balinese beef stew.

Making the stew is easy though a little patience is required... allow the beef to simmer slowly until it is tender and flavoursome.  Or if you're some kind of saint with a lot of patience and self-control, like many other stews or curries, this stew tastes even better the next day... 

And of course you can replace the beef with pork, the latter being a Bali favourite... but the spice paste / bumbu remains the same regardless the type of meat you choose.   

Most of the ingredients are available in supermarkets, but you might need to make a trip to your local Asian grocery store to get these three ingredients: First, kaffir lime leaves, one of my favourite scents and flavours. Kaffir lime leaves have a distinctive floral and citrus aroma which makes it difficult to substitute. If you can get fresh ones, great, but also look out in the frozen sections.  If you can't find it anywhere, use lime zest instead but it's just not gonna be the same.

Second, candlenuts... which in appearance look like large hazelnuts. In Indonesian cuisine, they are often used as a base and thickener for various spice pastes, also sambal and satay sauces.  When I don't have them around, I use brazil nut, macadamia or cashew.  Your pick. 

Last but not least, dried shrimp paste... or often known as terasi or trassi or belacan.  It's a common and widely-used ingredient in South-East Asian cooking.  It is dark in colour and it has a pungent smell, revolting to some people, but I find it utterly delicious. One advice from me, when handling the shrimp paste, make sure you use a spoon, because the aroma may sticks to your hands for hours otherwise.  

You can make the spice paste in a blender or using pestle and mortar.  If you are using a blender, add a couple of tablespoons of water which will help the blending process and I'd suggest not to make the paste too smooth.  It's nice to have a little texture in the stew.

Gently fry the bumbu in oil until fragrant just for a couple of minutes.  Then add the meat and cook until lightly browned.

Now add the kaffir lime and bay leaves, bruised galangal and finely minced/grated ginger and cook for another couple of minutes.  Season with salt and white pepper.

Stir in the water, sweet soy sauce, tamarind water and when it comes to a boil, clamp on a lid and let it simmer for an hour and a half to two hours or until the meat is tender.  Give it a stir from time to time and add more water if the it reduces too much.  Adjust the seasoning.  Serve with plenty of rice and you know what to do... x

Daging Bumbu Bali - Balinese Beef Stew
Recipe by Me

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
500 gr stewing beef, cubed
4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into little pieces
2 bay leaves
2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely minced/grated
2 cm piece fresh galangal, lightly bruised
400 ml water
100 ml tamarind water
3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
salt and white pepper, to taste

For the spice paste
3 garlic cloves
8 shallots
1 tablespoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted
2 candlenuts, lightly toasted
3 red chillies
1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste


  1. So lucky. Hate you just a little bit ... Lovely looking beef!

  2. this sounds wonderful - LOVE the flavors - it's breakfast time but my mouth is watering!
    mary x

  3. The beef stew looks droolworthy, Michael.

  4. wow looks so good bookmarking this

  5. Oh even the word bumbu reminds me of Bali and holidays there. It's such a gorgeous place to visit and your stew looks so delicious :D

  6. i guess i lovin this stew even more since i like the creamy taste of candlenuts,..
    candle nut is my kinda savior because i'm still craving on creamy taste, but since i was concern about my weight i love non coconut milk dish like this.LoL
    beside, i had my base genep (balinese spice powder) in my kitchen spice rack too, i guess it's suits within this recipe too....

  7. That looks and sounds lovely. I can get hold of most ingredients round here but so far candlenuts have defeated me, so thanks for the note on substitutes.

  8. That looks absolutely mouthwatering Michael!! I want to know why you don't live closer to me.. I would so come and invite myself to dinner nightly!! :)