Cooking Notes: Daging Serunding (Malay Beef floss or pulled-beef)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I am taking some cooking notes as I begin to understand how to make good Beef Serunding. It is by no means a finished recipe. But experienced cooks should find my sharing helpful.

I am now a Singaporean since 8 years ago but Malaysia is my country of birth. I can still remember growing up in a strongly multi-racial environment. I have an adopted brother, Ismail Hussein, who was loved by my mother and we treated him as family. I made friends with Malay and Indian classmates.

And I love Hari Raya visitations. We get to enjoy home made satays and this delicious beef floss (daging serunding) which were eaten with ketupat (pressed rice). Somehow, through these palate memories and I can still recall those visits. Sigh - it has been a long time since I was invited into a Malay home and enjoyed Hari Raya festivities.

I hope the recent election developments signal a new era for Malaysians and rediscovery of those better days where citizens from races were mixing well together.

Let's turn to my cooking notes.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, "Serunding" is normally reference for toasted coconut flesh, meat floss or a combination of the two.

Daging or Beef Serunding is very popular in Malay cuisine. It is the best beef jerky there is. It makes use of cheap but tough and flavourful cuts like topside, chuck and so on.

If you are familiar with making Beef Rendang (page 87, Mum's Classic Revived) or frying Kerisik (toasted coconut), this recipe is not difficult. These are the three main steps:

1. Cook the beef first and tear/floss the meat.
2. Cook the spices (rempah)
3. Add the beef and coconut meat and stir-fry till it is dry, similar to making kerisik.

It can be done in your wok and you do not need to use the oven.

Once you understand the basic, you can take this technique in many direction. You can change the spices. You can use chicken or pork, which are even easier to floss.

Beef Serunding is easy to store. You can eat it with ketupat, rice, porridge or bread. You can eat it with Nasi Ulam. If you add in more oil, it will keep well and become the "XO Sauce" from your fridge. Every meal with beef serenading can be appetising.

Here is the recipe from my first tryout:

1 kilo of topside beef, sliced in chunks


For grinding into paste:
20 Shallots
1 inch turmeric (kunyit)
1 inch of galangal (blue ginger or lengkuas), sliced
2 inches of ginger – sliced
2 stalks of lemon grass (white part only), sliced
3 Tbsp of chilli paste
To be added to paste:
1 bowl of oil (250 ml)
100 gm Gula Melaka (Palm Sugar) or sugar
2 tsp of salt
1 dried tamarind slice (asam gelugur or asam keping)
To be added when stir-frying
Flesh from half a coconut 
1 tbsp coriander seeds, smashed coarsely
2 pieces of Kaffir Lime leaves (Daun Limau Perut)

Cooking the Beef
I used the magic thermal pot to cook the beef. I boiled water in the pot, enough to cover the beef. Then I put the pot in the thermal insulator and leave it there for two hours. Now, you can of course use other methods to cook the beef that is convenient for you - gently boiling in water, microwave, steam etc. Just make sure there is a minimum lost of flavour. I set the water aside for use later to add to the rempah.

When the meat has cooled, use your fingers to pull the beef along the grain. If the meat is tough, smash it a bit with the back of a cleaver before you pull it.

Cooking the Rempah
I ground the rempah ingredients finely. Heating up the oil in a wok, I added the rempah paste, chilli paste, Gula Melaka, Assam gelzugur and salt. After 5 minutes, I added the water that was used for cooking the beef back in. I let it cook till most of the liquid has evaporated. While waiting for that, I flake the beef meat.

Cooking the Serunding
When the rempah has dried up, I added the smashed coriander seeds, meat and coconut flesh. I keep stir-frying to prevent bottom burning, in the same way I toast coconut flesh for kerisik. This is also for melding the flavours. I stir-fried for about 40 minutes till the serunding is dry enough. I also added the diced kaffir lime leaves. I tasted along the way to adjust the sweetness, saltiness or spiciness. This part is really up to you.

The outcome was simply DELICIOUS and well worth the effort. I plan to experiment further on this dish and will share it on this blog.

Stir-frying the Serunding in the wok

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