Beef rendang starts with a blended spice paste of fresh and dried chilis; turmeric, galangal, garlic, and ginger; and lemongrass and shallots.
Toast the coconut
Slowly heat grated coconut in a wok, stirring often...
Until it's a deep, even brown.
Prepare the dried chilis
Snip the dried chilis into segments, on the diagonal so that the seeds fall out. In a small bowl, put the elements you intend to use: all of the pods, which impart the chili flavor, but not all of the seeds, the source of the heat.
Pour over hot water to allow the chilis to hydrate. (Don't let this steam get in your eyes; I speak from experience.)
Chop it up
Chop the lemongrass (shown here), turmeric, and other ingredients that will form the spice paste. (Don't worry too much about chopping small or neatly, as this will all get tossed in the blender.)
Blend up the spice paste ingredients, with a bit of water to lubricate the process...
Until you get a blended, but not totally smooth paste.
Any lean cut of stewing beef will do. Chop it into manageable chunks a little bigger than bite-sized and about half an inch thick.
Onto the heat
The spice paste, beef, and coconut milk go into a wok; that's when you crank the heat. As the coconut milk heats, its oils will separate out, and the spice paste will essentially fry in those oils.
Watch it cook down
Cook over high heat until the curry starts to reduce and darken, like so.
Banana leaves and finely chopped kaffir lime rind go a long way toward prettifying a somewhat homely dish!