West Sumatra, Indonesia, is a land filled with colorful culture. One county would display significantly different cultural tradition than the next one, albeit ones sharing its border. Wedding costumes differ from one end to another, as well as the ceremonials. Yet Sumatrans in general, and West Sumatran in particular, have one thing in common: they prepare their food elaborately.
West Sumatran are generally meat-eaters – plenty would proclaim loudly that they are ‘meatarians’. Their national dishes greatly express the sentiment: most dishes tend to use beef, and no part of the beef ought to ever go to waste. Those who perceive offals and innards as something that ought to be outlawed would have second thoughts once they tried the dish in the way West Sumatran prepare them. Upon hearing that rendang was voted by CNNgo’s readers as the most delicious food, West Sumatran just shrugged and generally commented: “Where have those people been?”
This article, however, will not be discussing the innards and offals of a cow. Instead, it will focus in the more commonly used parts of beef. It will not, neither, give the oft-searched-for recipe of rendang. Yet. It will, on the other hand, discuss another dish that is more of a ceremonial centerpiece.
The name of the dish in the native tongue is Daging Bulek or Lauk Gadang (read: duh-geen boo-let, or: luh-wook guh-dung; from Indonesian: Round Meat; or Grand Dish). It is usually presented during ceremonials; weddings, tribe meetings, celebration of birth, et. al. Although it tend to not utilize as much effort as the makings of rendang, it is still rarely made – likely for the novelty of it. Yet, even the most voracious eater would not eat two pounds of meat (apiece) in one sitting. Consequently, there would be plenty of leftovers that could be ruined if left too long in the fridge. Unlike turkey, meat with such elaborate marinade is also not commendable as casserole. Thus the West Sumatran mothers would have to flex their creative bone as to not allow the dish to go to waste.
This is the recipe:
- 1 kg (2lbs) lean silver side, in whole and unsliced
- 1/2 kg.(1 lb) red chilli pepper
- 150 gram red onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 finger-joint-length ginger (about 5 inches or 10 cm) – if using powdered kind, 3 tablespoonful
- 2 finger-joint-length turmeric (powdered: 2 tablespoonful)
- 3 finger-joint-length galanga
- 1 sheet of turmeric leaf
- 3 teaspoonful tamarind paste
Method: Ground all spices into paste. Place slab of beef into a pot with the spices, infuse water enough to submerge the beef. Cook over small fire for about one hour with the lid on. When meat can be easily pricked with a skewer, it is done. Increase the fire to medium to dry out the marinade.
In spite of its shape, daging bulek is not to be eaten like roast beef. It is an accompaniment dish for rice. It is very spicy, and very red-colored. In a ceremonial buffet, its bright red color sets the balance of the other dishes. It is sliced thin – about 50mm or less – then served with the chilli dressing on rice.
Once the ceremonial event is done, the daging will then be sent to the host’s kitchen. It is not advised to pre-slice them, as the cooked meat will become dry and tasteless. When it is time to modify the meat, shred the meat along the grain, and fry it over hot oil on medium-to-small heat; along with the remaining spices. It will eventually crisp and good enough to eat on its own as snack, or over rice.