Wednesday, August 19, 2020


A day or two ago my apartment mate and I had a discussion about milk and cheese. As a person of mostly Dutch ancestry, and as a prime example of whitey-whiteness who has lived where dairies are a common form of animal husbandry, I am the nearest thing to an authoritative source of information on such subjects to my apartment mate, a San Francisco born woman of Cantonese derivation.

Toishan, where her family has roots, is not known for milk or cheese.

What animals can be used for such puposes, she wished to know.
And which ones were common?

Cows, of course. Plus goats, sheep, horses, and camels.
Not the canines or felines domesticated by man. Wilder animals, such as wolves or lions never. Though perhaps there is a market there to be developed, for the bodybuilder healthfreaks.

In Pakistan, and parts of India, water buffalo are a source of dairy.

Milk, ghee, yoghurt, and paneer.

No Brie.

In much of the lactose intolerant belt (most of South East Asia all the way into China and Japan), the production of Brie and Camembert has historically been at a low ebb. The water buffalo is a work animal and commonly a rural family's most prized asset.
And also, on occasion, eaten.

Good meat.


A tougher flesh than baby cow, and therefore best prepared by braising or a long slow simmer, randanged in the pan by covering with coconut milk and cooked over a low fire, regularly stirred, until the water content is almost all gone, the oils have come out, and the meat is a dark brown. It will thus be tender and delicious, and keep for significantly longer than most other cooked foods. Rendang.

Malaysian rendang is wetter, Sulu variants use a spice mixture (palapa) containing pounded charred coconut, and in Holland it is usually quite saucy and somewhat bland.

Almost any meat can be randanged, not just karbouw; scraggy farm-yard chicken, elderly Dutch milch-cow, mutton, goat. Even eel or pork.

The Dutch term for palapa, by the way, is bumbu.

The version of Rendang below is somewhat spicier and drier than what is common in the Netherlands.


One onion, chopped.
Half a dozen cloves of garlic.
Half a cup mashed hot chilies (sambal ulek).
A thumblength ginger (in lieu of galangal).
One TBS ground turmeric.
One teaspoon each coriander and cumin powder.
Two pounds of meat cut into large chunks.
Four to six cups of coconut milk (three cans).
Three stalks lemon grass, bruised.

Nutmeg and lemon zest.

Put the onion, chilies, garlic, ginger, and spices in a blender, whir till smooth. Add a little of the coconut milk if necessary. Salt and pepper the meat, rub with oil, and brown a little in a pan. Add the spice puree and cook while stirring for five minutes or so, then inundate with the rest of the coconut milk and add the lemon grass. Put to simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, till all the liquid is gone and the oil has separated, which will take a few hours.
Then raise the heat a bit, add a generous pinch of nutmeg and some grated lemon zest, and "fry" the meat till dark and toasty.

It's not complicated, and as you can see it's the process that matters. We usually serve it with glutinous rice, and wedges of cucumber on the side. Along with a few other dishes. Plus beer or sweet drinks for the young people, and cigars afterward.

Many Dutch recipes add shrimp paste and some mashed kemiri nuts to the bumbu. This is quite unnecessary; in lieu of shrimp paste in the dish, have fish sauce on the table, along with a wedge of lime or two. And kemiri nuts are only useful if you make a wetter dish, what is called kalio or krewa. Krewa manok (chicken kalio) is the same process, but much saucier because it is cooked for a shorter length of time.
Krewa talo uses hard-boiled eggs.

Leftover rendang can be kept at room temperature for several days, and many weeks in the refrigerator. Excellent for dolling up your instant noodles when you are sitting in the teevee room at the computer in your pajama pants and an old tee-shirt late at night.

The fragrance of cooking rendang will slowly perfume the air well beyond the kitchen, and likely drive your vegan neighbors mad.
Which is altogether a good thing.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

1 comment:

Bad Cohen said...

I'm only commenting because I haven't used blogger in, well, forever and it seems so totally novel.

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