Grandma's Beef Semur

Growing up, there were a handful of staple Indonesian dishes that would appear on the table regularly. Rendang, Opor Ayam (chicken curry) and Beef Semur, all spring to mind. These dishes are pretty quick to prepare and are left to cook on their own, so busy households like ours can get on with all the other tasks at hand.

Beef Semur is possibly the easiest of the three mentioned above. It’s a simple stew based around just a handful of ingredients, primarily Kecap Manis. It has its origins in Java, with Dutch influence. The word Semur is adapted from the Dutch word Smoor, which essentially translates as ‘stew’. 

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

1kg beef blade, cubed
4 tbsp Eighteen Thousand Islands Kecap Manis
3 cloves of garlic
10g (2cm) ginger, chopped
6 kemiri (candlenuts) alternatively use macadamia nuts
1 small tomato, sliced into eighths
2 whole cloves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp fried shallots
Spring Onion, chopped (optional for garnish)


Crush the garlic, ginger and candle nuts (or macadamia) in a mortar and pestle (or use a food processor). Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry the garlic, ginger and candlenuts until golden. Add the beef and stir till brown. Add cloves, kecap manis, tomato and water if required (there should be enough liquid that the beef is roughly half submerged).  Bring to the boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 1½ hours or until meat is tender and the liquid is reduced. Add salt and pepper to taste and the fried shallots. Garnish with spring onions if desired.