Let’s Normalize Plant-based Vegan Rendang
Updated: Aug 22
One of the traditional Malay food that we usually have during Eid is rendang.
The base is made of chilli, coconut milk, galangal, ginger, turmeric and kerisik.
Kerisik is a condiment made of toasted grated coconut. This is the secret ingredient that’s responsible for the nutty caramelized flavour.
And usually a type of meat is added, either chicken or cow (beef).
So you see, the base is already vegan. It’s just that the culture is used to adding meat into the dish.
Some would defend and say that the oil that comes out of the meat makes the taste better but I don’t think so.
The rather sad thing for vegans or vegetarians is that we can’t enjoy rendang at most of our relatives’ houses or even at buffet dinners as there are no plant-based options.
Well, I say that as a society, we need to be more inclusive.
Introducing Plant-Based Rendang!
The past Eids, my mum has been either cooking or ordering rendang that contains tempeh. I wrote about it here.
My cooking skills are not at the level of Malay traditional foods so I’d usually enjoy it from someone else’s creation. I know I should learn to cook it so maybe one fine day I will…
Unless I decide to go to the super healthy route because rendang (and most Malay food) is super oily!
My friend Dalila sent her mum’s version of tempeh rendang for me to try last Eid and it was really good although a tad bit spicy.
Elina, a fellow vegan content creator, made a video on tofu rendang. She did say that this is an older version and she would share a newer one.
Another friend in this vegan community in Malaysia has perfected her mushroom rendang and now she’s selling it. Check out @mushroom.lah on Instagram for more info!
I got the chance to try it and oh my goodness—it’s SO GOOD.
I think out of all the plant-based rendangs I’ve tasted—tofu, tempeh and mushroom—I think I can finally say that I prefer the one with mushroom. The texture almost mimics that of beef but chewier. The spice level was just nice for me as I can’t take food that’s too spicy. So yes, I liked it very much.
Vegan Rendang Does Not Sacrifice Taste (Or Animals)
I don’t miss meat. At all.
Four and a half years a vegan, I can vouch for the fact that your tastebuds change as time passes and you get used to plant-based foods.
The “taste” really comes from the spices which are basically plants or herbs.
So I’m really glad that almost all traditional dishes, without the meat, are plant-based.
The difficulty now is to make it a norm to have an option to not put in meat and instead substitute with a plant protein like tofu, tempeh or mushroom.
The rendang mushroom tasted great, just like the original.
If you’re open to trying out plant-based versions of common or traditional foods, you would soon realise that you really don’t need the flesh of an animal to make a dish taste good.