Potato Rendang

adapted from Cradle of Flavor

3 pounds of baby yukon gold or fingerling potatoes (about 1-inch in diameter)

40 ounces of coconut milk

3 stalks of fresh lemongrass, white and pale green parts only, chopped

8 shallots (about 6 ounces) chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

8 fresh red chilies, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

10 fresh green, or green and red, Thai chilies, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

4 tsp fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped  (or 3 tsps ground)

1/4 cup  fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

3 TBS fresh laos, peeled and chopped

4 kemiri (candlenuts, optional)

5 daun salam leaves (optional)

4 to 6 stems fresh kemangi (preferred), or Thai basil

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

peanut oil, as needed

First, reduce the coconut milk slightly by simmering over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Oil from the coconut milk should begin to appear on the surface.

While reducing the coconut milk, make the spice paste.  In a small food processor, mix together the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, chilies, turmeric, ginger,  laos, and kemiri.  Pulse until you have a smooth paste.  There should not be any large chunks of any of the spices.  If there are, continue to pulse, adding a tablespoon or so of the coconut milk to facilitate the process.

Add the spice paste, salam leaves, and kemangi to the simmering coconut milk and stir to combine.  Allow to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching, until the liquid has reduced by about half.  This could take from 45 minutes to over an hour.  Be patient and don't try to rush it by cooking at too high of a heat, for this will cause the coconut to boil and possibly separate and curdle.

While the coconut milk is simmering, wash and scrub the potatoes. Cut them about half way through to allow the flavors from the rendang base to penetrate.  

After the coconut milk has reduced by about half, add the prepared potatoes and salt to the mixture, and stir well.  Cook the potatoes in this  liquid until the liquid  has reduced and become thick.  Stir often to keep the potatoes and liquid from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  It will probably be necessary to add a little peanut oil  as the paste becomes thicker.  

Reduce the heat to low and saute the potatoes in the rendered oils and fats, stirring frequently.  You really need to pay attention at this point and continue to cook until the paste turns a rich, fairly dark brown.  It does not become as dark as beef rendang, but it is not too light either.  

Oseland recommends allowing the dish to rest at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to intensify. Bir Bintang in a glass with a large chunk of ice would be the perfect accompaniment to a meal with these potatoes.