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Monday, May 25, 2009

Beef Semur

For the life of me, I can't make my Beef Semur photo looks good. I read somewhere that it is difficult to photograph brown food. But I thought it is easy enough to photograph chocolate and chocolate desserts. Why oh why is it so hard to take photos of Beef Semur or beef in soy sauce? So I thought I'll use an old photo - the one I put on for Q's riceball earlier this year.
I really want to share this recipe with you because there were a lot of request for it. It is usually the first taste of spice that a child in Malaysia get. The spicy note in this recipe is more sweetish and aromatic. The heat doesn't come from the chili but ginger so it is more to warm up your body rather than to tickle the back of your throat.

It's also a typical dish you cook at home. Not quite so easy to find when you're eating out. Don't get me wrong. It is ginger beef is ubiquitous - you can probably get it from any street stalls or restaurants but Beef Semur is a braised dish and it is not so easy to get unless you go to a very good Nasi Campur buffet spread.
I know braising beef isn't exactly what you ought to be doing when it is 24 C outside and it is better to read and drink Mojito under the gorgeous blue sky but in Malaysia, braising happens on a daily basis when there is a heatwave. And you know what? We eat soup too... with lots of ginger and chili thrown in some more! There are only four spices used in this recipe - cinnamon, star anise, paprika powder and black pepper. You can replace the paprika powder with chili powder of fresh chili if you want it to be more fiery. Don't be deterred by the list of ingredients - they are mostly blitzed to make a paste for the marinade. It is easily prepared - just leave the beef to marinate for not longer than 20 minutes, then leave it to simmer for about at least 45 minutes to an hour - depending on the cut of beef you choose and then you're on to a real winner! Beef Semur
1 kg beef
1 cinnamon
1 star anise
3 tomatoes - quartered
salt, pepper and sugar for seasoning
vegetable oil

for the marinade
1 onion
5 garlic cloves
2cm ginger
1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
1 tsp paprika powder
3 TBSP oyster sauce
3 TBSP kicap kental (or kicap manis)
1 TBSP light soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1. Add onion, ginger and garlic to a food processor and blitz to make a fine paste.
2. Combine the onion paste with the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Cut the beef into cubes and massage the marinade into the cubed beef. Leave the beef to chill in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. don't leave it too long - it will turn bitter.
4. Heat up some vegetable oil in a thick based saucepan, add the star anise cinnamon stick.
5. Add the marinated beef into the saucepan and stir to coat lightly. Keep stirring until the juice of the beef seep through.
6. Add the tomatoes, taste and season accordingly.
7. Adjust the heat on your stove. Leave to braise in its own juice for at least 45 minutes or depending on your beef cut of choice.
8. Serve immediately.


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