Spring Flowers and Bees

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cooking with Spices: Empal Gepuk

Before I get on to anything, I would like to complain first.
It was unbelievably
FREEZING today (cold won't be the right word) and the temperature dropped to minus 20! Can you believe it?! Well, this is not a form of exaggeration for Torontonians or anyone who lives more northern than us. But, we have been enjoying an above temperature the week before that this drop in temperature shocked our immune system.
As I was walking to school, I can't help thinking how bitter Toronto feels in wintertime like this. Oh well, it's just a passing thought.

Now I'd like to present you with something that originated where I grew up,
an Indonesian food! It amazes me how many different spices are blended together to create intricate dishes like this one. The most common method employed is to blend all the spices together with a stone plate and stone grinder (sort of like pestle and mortar but the plate is flatter). Then fry them in oil until aromatic and finally cook the main ingredients with these fried spices used as the sauce or seasonings.

Today I'm gonna share with you a recipe of Indonesian beef stew called "empal gepuk". This recipe was snacthed from
Keluarga Nugraha, so I'd like to credit them for it. Back home, this dish is supposed to be fried until all of the broth evaporated, but as you will see in my final picture, I ate it like a beef stew instead. I have just found out that the recipes are no longer for public view, so I'm going to give out my modified one instead =)

Empal Gepuk

600 gr beef shanks, cut into 4 big pieces
4 dried bay leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, take the white part and bruise

650 ml coconut milk
2 1/2 tsp salt

7 cloves of shallots, sliced then sauteed
5 cloves of garlic, sliced then sauteed

5 candlenuts, toasted

1 cm ginger

2 cm fresh galangal

3 tsp corriander

60 gr brown sugar

01) Combine all the ingredients in "spices" together and process in a blender or food processor until smooth.
02) In a big pot, stir in beef shanks, coconut milk, blended spices, bay leaves, lemongrass, and salt. Bring them to boil, then cook on low heat (simmer) until the beef is fully cooked and the liquid has decreased by half (about 2 hours).
03) Remove the pot from heat. Cut the beef chunks according to the meat pattern into 2 cm slices.
04) Heat oil in a sauteeing pan, then fry the beef with the remaining liquid until all the liquid is drained.

Spices for making Empal Gepuk

  • A closer look to the spices, please click the picture below. You will notice that I was using a different kind of sugar, which I purchased back home. It's called gula aren or nira and you have to grate it first before using. I am not sure if you can get it in North America. But the original recipe used brown sugar.
  • When frying the beef, I didn't actually drain all the tasty coconut broth, because they taste so good on rice. So, it's your call whether to save the broth or not!
  • By the way, the coconut broth is also useful for frying the side dishes that you want with your empal. So far I've tried stir-frying mushrooms and green beans in it and they taste awesome, especially the mushrooms =p
I am not so skillfull in presenting the food I made and basically just put rice on a plate then top up with the main dish and some side veggies. And DONE!


Anonymous Aeons said...


11:33 PM  
Anonymous mae said...

This looks like my kinda food!!! i want some. NOW!

5:44 AM  
Blogger MM said...

Oh yums, oh yums, oh yums! I remember eating this as a kid. Yums! I am gonna go try this for sure!

I love your grinder ... that sounded so wrong somehow ...

7:30 PM  
Blogger strawberry said...

Mae and Steph,
apparently we have a similar background taste ^^
It keeps well in the fridge and the sauce goes well for other stir-fries.

Btw, the Indonesian name for that grinder is "uleg2" (for the handle) and "cobek" (for the stone/wood plate)

8:20 PM  

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