I’ve considered making rendang bitterballen for years. Bitterballen are a Dutch deep fried snack, and are basically nothing more than a small round croquette (or ‘kroket’, as we would call them).
Over here we have deep fried snacks like croquettes on-the-go. Bitterballen are basically a smaller version of those and used as a party or bar snack. Think of what would happen if British people had invented tapas and you’ll get the idea.
Personally I think our little portable deep fried snacks are one of the best things we’ve got going for us here, food wise, but a lot of this stuff is made with mystery meat (guess who was at the center of the horsemeat scandal…) so it’s kind of best left alone. Unless you’re drunk or sad and are on a trainstation and in dire need of a snack of course.
Anyway… Dutch people are always trying to make new versions of krokets and often they’re kinda yikes. Especially when it involves recipes from the former colonies, like Indonesia. So when Mora, the main purveyor of frozen deep fried snacks for home use, released their new rendang kroket, I had to make good on my dreams of a rendang bitterbal.
Rendang bitterbal experiment success!
Turns out: I was right. The broth from slow cooker rendang is amazing and rich. Using it to turn into a rich creamy ragout and then deep frying it is a magical wonderful thing. I may never have rendang ‘the old fashioned way’ again.
Keep in mind that you’ll need at least 2 days to put this together.
I used Koken Met Kennis’ beef kroket (Dutch) recipe as a foundation for my recipe, their info on what makes a good kroket turned out to be invaluable.
For my first run I had these with Donna Hay’s kaffir lime mayo, which is a mixture of lime zest, kaffir lime leaves and Japanese mayo. I thought the acidity worked quite well with the richness of the rendang bitterbals. But I’m still looking for the perfect dip. Hit me up in the comments if you have an idea. 🙂
- rendang meat roughly cut up into small pieces (half a cm and under)
- 400 ml reheated rendang broth if you didn't get enough broth from the slowcook, add water
- 3 sheets of gelatine soaked in water
- 50 gr unsalted butter
- 50 gr plain flour
- 2 eggs whisked
- 50 gr flour
- 75 gr dried breadcrumbs
- a temperature controlled deep fat fryer with clean oil
Step 1: Make the rendang
- Make my slow cooker beef rendang at least one day ahead of time.
- IMPORTANT: instead of drying out the rendang in a wok at the end, strain the liquid from the rendang into a bowl or small saucepan and keep both the meat and broth in your fridge overnight.
- You should be left with exactly 400 ml of the broth, if you have less you should be fine diluting it with water until you land on 400 ml no problem.
Step 2: Make the ragout
- Get a heavy based saucepan and melt the butter on a medium low heat before stirring in the flour to start your roux.
- Once the roux starts letting go of the bottom of the pan, after 2-3 minutes or so, add half of the broth. Stir continuously until the sauce starts to thicken. Now add the remainder of the broth and keep stirring to get rid of any lumps.
- Bring to the boil briefly before adding the squeezed out gelatine leaves. Stir again until well-combined.
- Finally add the meat and stir again until the mixture is well-combined and has come to the boil. I like to use a whisk for the full process so the meat tears and is scattered in threads and lumps throughout the ragout.
- Move the ragout to an oven dish and leave to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature before covering and moving it to your fridge to cool completely for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Step 3: Make the balls
- Divide and roll the ragout into roughly 20-25 medium sized balls. If you want to be precise about it: they should be about 3 cm's in diameter and roughly 20 grams in weight. Use cold water to prevent them from sticking to your hand too much and to create a smoother outer surface.
- Now set up your bread crumbing station. Coat your balls in the following order:
- Once you've rolled and breadcrumbed all your balls, move them back to your fridge for at least 2 more hours to firm. If you're not going to eat them all you can freeze some for later. If you do freeze them make sure they don't touch so they don't get stuck together.
- You're ready to fry!
- Heat your deep fat fryer to 180 degrees Celsius and, depending on the size of your fryer and your balls, fry your bitterbals in portions of 3 to 5 until they are golden and crisp, 3-5 minutes or so. Serve hot.