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 smaller 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 involved 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 finally had to make good on my dreams of a rendang bitterbal, which I thought could actually be very good.
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 and I may never have rendang ‘the old fashioned way’ again.
Keep in mind that, including the time in the slow cooker, 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.
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 after the 8 hour cooking period and keep both the meat and broth overnight. You should be left with exactly 400 ml’s of the broth, if you have less you should be fine diluting it with water until you land on 400 ml’s no problem.
Step 2: Make the ragout
To make the ragout you’ll need the following
- rendang meat, roughly cut up into pieces smaller than 5 mm
- 400 ml reheated rendang broth
- 3 sheets of gelatine, soaked in water
- 50 gr unsalted butter
- 50 gr plain flour
Get a heavy based saucepan and melt the butter on a medium low heat before adding the flour. Stir continuously to make the roux.
Once the roux starts to let go of the bottom of the pan, after 2-3 minutes or so, add half of the broth and keep stirring with a whisk until the sauce thickens. Now add the remainder of the broth and stir again to get rid of any lumps.
Bring to the boil briefly and add the squeezer out gelatine leaves. Stir until well combined. Now add the meat and stir again until the mixture has come to the boil and is well combined. 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.
Step 3: Make the balls
To finish your bitterbals, you will need the following:
- rendang ragout
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 50 gr flour
- 75 gr dried breadcrumbs
- a temperature controlled deep fat fryer with clean oil
Divide and roll the ragout into roughly 18-20 medium sized balls. They should be about 3-5 cm’s in diameter and roughly 20 grams in weight. Use cold water to prevent them from sticking too much to your hand or to get a smooth outer surface.
Now set up your breadcrumbing station. Start with the bare naked bitterbals, then a deep plate of flour, a deep plate of the thoroughly whisked egg, a deep plate of breadcrumbs and a clean plate at the end of it. Coat your bitterbals as follows:
Once you’ve rolled and breadcrumbed all your balls, move them back to your refrigerator for at least 2 more hours to firm. If you’re not going to eat them all you can freeze some for later.
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, for 3-5 minutes, until they are golden and crisp. Serve hot.
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. 🙂