Indonesian Beef Jerky
By Marchellinus Hanjaya - Friday, Dec 27, 2013
Nasi Padang, to many, is a perennial favourite for lunch or dinner. Well, who doesn’t like this famous yet humble cuisine from the heart of Sumatra, Indonesia? Easy to enjoy, friendly with many Asian tastebuds, and offers so many choices. Moreover, many Nasi Padang vendors are easily spotted in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Most of these vendors probably provide some widely known menu selections such as beef rendang, kapau vegetable curry, fried chicken, and dendeng – the local style beef jerky that served with sambal. Yes, this last dish has become more popular now, and there are few interesting facts about this dish that you might not be familiar with.
It is different with the Chinese New Year bak kwa, which comes sweet, salty and sometimes spicy. Dendeng from West Sumatra is generally salty, but not overwhelmingly so. Commonly, all types of dendeng uses the same basic ingredients – sliced beef or water buffalo meat, salt, spices, and then dehydration. It’s that simple – or at least it seems to be.
The most popular dendeng comes from West Sumatra – the dendeng balado, which literally means beef jerky with chilli. This dry style of deep fried dendeng served with a special chilli paste, is pan fried with sliced red chilli and shallots in coconut oil. This dendeng would be very crispy with a hint of saltiness, and redolent with delicate heat from the spiced infused coconut oil.
Next variant is the less famous dendeng batokok. The word batokok means beaten, or hammered. The dried dendeng only cooks for a while, so the meat would not be so crispy. After which, they hammer down on the meat with a meat mallot, put some green chili paste on top – usually with green tomatoes, and finished with coconut oil. So, the big difference with the balado version, is that dendeng batokok is much more moist and has a hint of acidity. As a variant, some cooks prefer to smoke the raw meat before they fry it.
Now the last and rare version, is found only in its place of origin in the Talang Village of West Sumatra. Some restaurants have tried to replicate but none of them yielded the same taste, or are even close. It’s dendeng baracik, named after the jewel of this village near Solok. They age the meat prior to cooking and specifically only using good marbled beef. Unlike the other pre-cooked menu of Padang restaurants, this dish is done a la minute, unlike “fakes” that pre-cook and lay them on the ubiquitous trays. Fried with coconut oil until it’s crispy, it’s then completed with slices of green chili, tomatoes, shallot, and finally some drops of asam sundai (key lime) juice. Perfectly balanced!
Look for that slice of dendeng and enjoy your next Padang meal.