Lately, I’ve been more inclined towards plant-based meals, which is good for normal people but not for me, because I’m prone to anaemia, arrhythmia due to iron deficiency. Sometime in 2018 I attempted to go vegetarian for a month and had a couple of fainting spells. So, this week I had to cook some meals for post-COVID-19 vaccination and added some high protein meals to the menu. Sadly, the vaccination did not happen because during the pre-vaccine evaluation the kind pharmacist found out I’d driven to the vaccine center all alone from quite a distance, all my comorbidities which put me at risk for inflammation and tachycardia (which I am already prone towards) and gave me a referral to go to a hospital for rescheduling and a different vaccine.
However! It does mean I have yummy food for the weekend and this dish I am the proudest about!
I love daging masak merah (Thai/Pattani style red-cured beef) but I could never figure out how to make it. My thirties and since I came back to Malaysia from Australia has been a series of gustatory disappointments as I tried to find the Daging Masak Merah that fit the memory of my palate. My favourite versions of this dish comes from my teenhood in Kedah (north of Malaysia, near the Malaysia/Thai border) and a couple of places in Klang in my twenties did okay versions. But mostly, the beef in these places comes smothered in a plethora of bottled sauces and tastes nothing like I remembered. I am also not a fan of how in the south of Malaysia, padprik dishes come smothered in blended chilli sauce and a variety of bottled sauces, so we shall tackle that another day.
I did some instagram sleuthing, and also found this tiktok which has recipes straight from a Malay-Thai restaurant that seems authentic enough, albeit overgenerous with the sugar/MSG. What ensued was my making my own recipe. From some of the more popular Malay foodstagrammers I worked out that people were boiling their beef and adding colouring. Some people added rose syrup — so that is what I did. I also knew I didn’t want to add a plethora of sauces, and slow-cooking the beef while I was practising classical guitar gave such a wonderful flavour that I just wanted that meat to sing.
This isn’t a super-traditional recipe because I Ninnified it, and added some touches like lemon juice, and dropped fennel seeds in the slow-cooker (which turned out to be an EXCELLENT decision). But it’s tasty.
Of course you could just boil the boeuf and it would work just as well. But slow-cooking really brings out the flavour. I’m just saying. Also, the last part of the curing w/ the syrup was done in a saucepan because I didn’t want to stain my crockpot.
- a slab (around 300-400grams) of block meat, chuck meat, anything that requires long cooking.
- a small amount of fennel seeds
- Himalaya salt and pepper to taste
- rose syrup or red colouring (I used the Ameen brand rose syrup)
- fish (Squid brand) sauce
- light soy sauce
- a teaspoon of tomato puree
- your sweetener of choice (I used the winterfruit no-calorie sweetener, lakanto, the golden variety, around a teaspoon)
- lemon juice
- calamansi lime juice
- bird’s eye chilli, 1 stalk lemongrass, 1 red onion, 2 cloves garlic, all chopped up or bashed, or prepared.
- Handful of vegetables of your choice. (I used kai lan. If I had baby corn I would have thrown it in with some carrots and caulifower).
- Put your meat, fennel, salt, pepper and water into a slow cooker and cook that baby for a couple of hours.
- Take it out, let it rest. Taste-test to see if it has adequate texture/softness.
- Take a bit of the stock and put it in a sauce-pan. Add red colouring or rose syrup (the rose flavour does make it nice though, but best to use a kind that is less sweet). Gently simmer the meat in the sauce-pan till it is tinged red. As for the rest of the stock, I’ve just frozen it in batches because it’s that good.
- Let it rest, or cool (I did it overnight, for best results).
- On the day of eating, heat up a wok till it is nice and steamy and throw in the sliced red meat. Let it crisp gently, then throw in the chopped ingredients #11, reserving some of the red onion for the last bit. You can also add makrut leaves if you want, but I wanted the boeuf to sing.
- Toss in your veg (this is optional but I didn’t want to cook an extra veg dish so I prepared it without veg but when heating up for my meals I threw in the veg)
- Season with: soy sauce, a bit of the beef stock, lemon juice, calamansi lime juice, sweetener, fish sauce, and salt/pepper to taste. Add a handful of chopped onion (red or white/holland is okay) towards the end, let it gently wilt. Adjust how much stock or water you want based on how much gravy you want. I had mine relatively dry but moistened the rice with tom yam soup.
- Plate on a bed of lettuce or on its own.
No pictures because I ate it all.
*for vegetarians you can sub the meat w/ your “meat” of choice, or even seitan! (I enjoy vegetarian meat a lot, back in the before-times, I tried to go vegetarian once a week and would go to vegetarian restaurants/stalls). Essentially I have my omnivore days, my mostly plant-based days, and I try to have at least one fully plant-based day a week but ensuring I had enough iron the day before. I chug a lot of soy milk also.