SEMUR BUNTUT (Javanese Braised oxtail and beef)

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SEMUR BUNTUT (Javanese Braised oxtail and beef)

This dish is typical Indonesian with a Dutch influence, the word Semur comes from Smoor, which means braised or stew, we Javanese from Surakarta have adopted the Dutch style of cooking.
This recipe is a mothers favourite for a big family like mine. With 5 children in the family one big pot of Semur can make them very happy. For the paste we never use ground pepper, all the pepper and nutmeg are whole which gives a distinctive strong peppery flavour, especially white pepper and tail pepper. The slow cook that my mother usually using charcoal, charcoal gives the low continuous heat for a long time, sometimes she puts extra charcoal if the meat isn’t tender enough or to cook longer. Slow cooking develops all the spices flavour into the meat and juices.

This recipe serves 8 as part of the meal.

Ingredients :
15 shallots or 3 medium onions sliced
3 bay leaves
2 l water
5 cm cinnamon stick
4 tbs kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1 tsp salt
1 kg oxtail
1/2 kg diced beef
8 hard boiled eggs
2 large tomatoes diced
3 tbs tomato purée
3 cloves
2 kafir lime leaves
2 tbs vegetable oil

For the paste :
5 cloves of garlic
3 cm ginger
1 nutmeg
1/2 tsp cubeb (tail pepper)
1/2 tsp white pepper
3 candle nuts
1 tsp coriander seeds
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of sugar

1. Fry the shallots until fragrant, add to the paste.
2. Add oxtail and beef, stir slowly (you can brown the oxtail and beef before)
3. Add the water and let it boil, add the bay leaves, kafir lime leaves, cinnamon stick, tomato paste, cloves, diced tomatoes and the sweet soy sauce.
4 lower the heat add the boiled eggs and slow cook until the beef and oxtail meat is tender.
5 serve with steamed fragrant rice, parsley and crispy fried shallots.



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I grew up in small town in Central Java, I learned to bake from the age of 7, not just because I loved to do it, but it was my mother’s idea of child Labour. However as I was the youngest of five kids I could get away from the hardest jobs of baking cakes.
Before she bought a hand electric mixer, she used to make cakes with a traditional hand mixer that looks like a metal spiral that we must dry up properly or it would go rusty.

I bet you would say that I was a lazy boy when my mother asked for a little help.
If it was only one cake, that would have been easy for us, but once I remembered she agreed to bake more than 100 plates of cakes for “nyewu” a Javanese tradition, when a family celebrates a thousand days after someone has passed away.
So with five kids as soldiers my mother was a strong leader to make sure 120 marble cakes (25cm x25 cm) was delivered.
Thinking she was lucky because my grandmother owned a battery hen farm, because for one marble cake recipe she would need 8 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, so at that time she needed more than 100 kg of eggs.

Marble Cake

8 eggs yolk
4 eggs whites
250g butter, room temperature
200g plain flour
300g caster sugar
2 tsp. cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 180C, line the base and sides of a 25 cm square tin with parchment paper.
Whisk the butter and the sugar until white and fluffy.
In clean bowls whisk the egg white until glossy and thick.
Add the flour and mix the butter and sugar slowly with a spatula, mix gently making sure you get right down to the bottom of the bowl.
Add the egg whites and gently mix.
Put 3tbs. of the cake mixture into a small bowl and mix in the cocoa powder.
Spoon the batter into a baking tin and spread evenly, add the chocolate mixture on top.
With a fork or chopsticks, slowly marble the batter and bake for about 40 minutes, poke with a skewer and if it pulls out clean the cake is ready.
Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

When I bake with this recipe I always have an excess of 4 eggs whites, I recently followed Nigel Slater’s Classic Meringue Recipe to make the most of them.


SAMBAL (CHILI SAUCE) Try as hot as possible and The Indonesians will say.. it’s delicious :)

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Sambal Tomat : chilies (Red and bird eye), shallots, garlic cloves, shrimp paste, Tomato, Palm or coconut sugar, salt and Tomatoes. (Fried)