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Chef Jon Ashton Beef Rendang

Spend Some Time in the Spice Aisle as You Prep Your Pantry This Week

If you’ve ever wandered the aisles of a Southeast Asian night market, where purveyors of spice and seasonings reign and foodies are welcome to run wild, you’ve likely been entranced by the symphony of it all. Truly, the spectacle of colors and sounds is a mesmerizing display of the many cultures that came together to form modern life in the region. And at the center of this extravaganza is the food. Food is the go-to love language in these streets.

This week, we’re transporting ourselves to these flavorful aisles of the pasar malam – or, actually, the spice aisles of our favorite supermarket – to collect the ingredients for traditional beef rendang. This is Malaysia’s answer to comfort food, perfect for Sunday suppers, like pot roast, but with much more spice. Think coriander, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, cumin, garlic, lemongrass and on and on. This dish brings the heat and warms the soul, beautifully cooled and complemented by Chef Jon Ashton’s coconut cilantro rice.

As you prep your pantry, we’re certain you’ll find inspiration for your next journey to the tropical cities of Malaysia. Until then, plan to join us for Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton this Sunday, October 4 on the Crystal Cruises Facebook page. We’ll see you in the kitchen.

Beef Rendang
By Chef Jon Ashton


Spice Paste: 
2 lemongrass stalks, dry outer leaves removed, roughly chopped    
3 medium-sized red onions, quartered     
6 garlic cloves, peeled    
3 1/2 oz. (100 grams) fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped    
3 red chilies, roughly chopped (feel free to remove ribs and seeds)    
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil    
1/4 teaspoon (2 ml) ground nutmeg 
1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground cumin     
1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground coriander    
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground turmeric
3 lb. (1.4 kg) boneless beef chuck, cut into 2″ pieces   
1 – 14 fl. oz. (400 ml) can coconut milk    
2 3/4 (660 ml) cups chicken stock 
4 fresh Markrut (Kaffir) Lime leaves, or two 3-inch strips each of lemon zest and lime zest
1 cinnamon stick    
2 tablespoons (15 grams) light brown sugar    
Juice of 1 lime freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) dark soy sauce   
Salt and pepper     

1/4 cup (15 grams) dried coconut flakes, toasted 
1/3 cup (38 grams) unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, chopped fine


Place all the Spice Paste ingredients in a food processor and pulse until everything is blended to a fine paste. You may have to remove lid and scrape down the bowl a couple of times. 

Heat a Dutch oven to medium high and add the spice paste. Fry and gently stir for 3 – 4 minutes.

Add the boneless beef chuck to the pan and stir to coat in the paste and spices. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the meat starts to change color. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock into the Dutch oven. Add the lime leaves, cinnamon stick, brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. 

Gently simmer uncovered for about 2 ½-3 hours, or until the meat is meltingly tender and the sauce is thickened (it will have a nice gloss to it). Fish out the lime leaves and cinnamon stick. Take a taste and season with salt and pepper (if needed).

Garnish with coconut flakes and chopped peanuts.

Serves 6. 

Coconut Cilantro Rice
By Chef Jon Ashton

1 – 14 fl. oz. (400 ml) can light coconut milk
1 3/4 cups (420 ml) chicken stock
2 teaspoons (10 ml) kosher salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon (2 ml) ground ginger
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut oil
3 – ¼ inch coin sized slices of fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
2 cups (420 grams) basmati rice, rinsed clean  
2 tablespoons (2 grams) chopped cilantro
1/4 cup (22 grams) chopped almonds


Heat oven to 425 F.

Place coconut milk, chicken stock, bay leaf, and ground ginger in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer.

While the coconut milk is heating up, heat a dutch oven to medium-high. Add the coconut oil. When the oil shimmers, add the fresh ginger, garlic clove and cook for 1 minute more, or until the garlic clove browns. Add the rice to the dutch oven and stir to coat the grains of rice. Now add the warmed coconut milk. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, place the lid on top and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to sit on the stove top for another 5 to 10 minutes. Fish out the sliced ginger, garlic clove and bay leaf. Take a taste of the rice, and feel free to add more salt and pepper.  Once seasoned, gently fluff the rice with a fork.

When ready to serve, top with chopped cilantro and toasted almonds.

Serves 6 – 8.

Crystal’s Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience program brings several elements of the renowned Crystal Experience directly to guests, wherever in the world they are. “Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton” represents the culinary excellence found aboard Crystal ships, as some of the greatest travel memories are created over the greatest meals.

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Posted on June 29, 2020