A few years ago, I took a burlesque dancing class with a friend of mine.
The first time we practiced our sexy, slow walk to the music was facing away from the mirror.
In my head, I was a natural. Guys would fall at my feet.
I thought to myself: “You are amazing and it’s only your first class!”
Then, I turned around and headed back the other way- facing the mirror.
To my horror, I had all the charm and sex appeal of one of the fast moving zombies in 28 Days Later.
My walk was completely off rhythm and as always, I was doing everything way too quickly.
That’s a running theme in my life.
I always prided myself on how quickly I accomplished tasks, learned new material and I was particularly proud of how quickly I walked (you’ve got to take what you can get).
I’ve learned in recent times that although speed can be a good thing on occasion, generally, it just leads to me become so focused on the goal that I forget to enjoy everything that surrounds it. I hurtle to the finish line, and the rewarding feeling is usually minimal.
The good things take time. And, although I never gave my burlesque dancing career enough to time blossom in to stardom as I’m sure it would have, I have been learning the lesson in other ways.
Take this tempeh rendang for example. It’s an Indonesian dish normally made with slow cooked spiced beef that is allowed to cure for days or sometimes weeks after cooking to increase the depth of flavour.
The vegan version isn’t fast food either, but I won’t make you wait weeks. The length of time you wait is up to you!
After 30 minutes it tastes ok, the sauce is light and doesn’t have much depth but it’s passable. After an hour it’s getting darker, becoming a bit more rich and it’s tempting to pull it off the stove. But, have a little patience and wait 2 or 3 hours you will be rewarded with perfectly juicy tempeh cubes (and you thought that was an oxymoron!) that are deep and richly spiced with a slow growing chili heat in the back of your throat. And, even though you’ve been patient and waited for 3 hours to eat it, if you can exercise even more restraint and wait until the next day when the flavours have melded and developed to their full potential? Oh man. Heaven.
Much like life, you can rush this and you’ll still get the experience, but you’ll miss all of the best parts.
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh ginger
- 1 TBSP chopped garlic
- 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 4 thai red dried chillies, soaked in water and roughly chopped
- 2 TBSP oil
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 6 cardamom pods
- 16 oz tempeh, in 1 inch cubes
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- zest and juice of a lime
- 400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
- 1 tsp sugar
- coriander sprigs to garnish
- For the rending paste: place the onion, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric and chillies into a food processor. Blend to form a smooth purée.
- Heat a pan and add the oil.
- Fry the paste over a high heat until the paste turns darker and is highly aromatic (3-5 minutes)
- Add the cinnamon and cardamom pods (crush the cardamom pods gently with the back of a spoon before frying)
- Add in tempeh, frying in the paste until well browned.
- Pour over the coconut milk, sugar and lime juice
- Bring to a gentle simmer, add the kaffir lime leaves and lime zest
- Season with salt, stir well then reduce to a low simmer.
- Cook for 90 minutes, stirring frequently during this time.
- The sauce should be really reduced and rich.
- Taste and season accordingly.
- Continue cooking for another 30-60 minutes (depending on consistency of your sauce)
- When the rendang is ready stir in roughly chopped cilantro (coriander) to the mixture making sure it is well mixed in.
- Serve with rice.