Margarita's International Recipes


Dendeng Ragi

Coconut Beef

Coconut Beef

This Central Javanese specialty is a dish of soft, but dried beef in a delicious coconut dressing. The sauce cooks down, but unlike the dendeng from Sumatra which approximates beef jerky, here the beef stays tender.

This is a fairly quick dish to make and we enjoyed it very much. I used top sirloin for the beef, but as the beef is sliced so thinly (think 1/8" or less), most cuts will do. As usual, I substituted macadamia nuts for candlenuts and I used curry leaves instead of the Indonesian bay leaves, or salaam leaves, which seem impossible to find locally. I did use palm sugar, which is delicious and tastes very much like maple sugar. It comes in an impossible hard disk, too hard to cut with a knife, and you will need to grate it to use it. But brown sugar is a good substitute. Perhaps adding a couple of teaspoons of maple syrup if you are using it would help approximate the flavor of palm sugar.

I'd definitely make this dish again, but next time I'd double it. The recipe below makes a scant meal for three, and you'll definitely want to have leftovers.


Coconut Beef


  • 2 shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2" ginger root, peeled
  • 5 candlenuts or 10 macadamia nuts, halved
  • 3 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil, divided
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 Indonesian bay leaves or curry leaves
  • 1" galangal root, peeled and bruised
  • 1.5 lbs steak, sliced into very thin 1.5" squares
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup grated palm sugar, maple sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh grated coconut or 1 1/4 cups shredded dried coconut


Place shallots, garlic, ginger, candlenuts and 1 Tbs oil in a food processor or grinder and process until you have a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining oil on a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot paste, the kaffir lime leaves, the bay leaves and the galangal and saute, stirring constantly, until fragrant - about 5 minutes.

Add the beef and continue stirring, making sure the beef is coated with the paste. Once the beef is light brown, stir in the coconut milk and the salt. Add the palm sugar and cook until it's dissolved, stirring frequently. Turn heat down to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates. Add the coconut, turn heat down to low, and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. Serve.

Adapted from a recipe at Recipes Indonesia

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