Food from Sabah Malaysia: Chicken Rendang

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ October 13th, 2011. Updated on October 10th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Sabahan food.
Chicken Rendang from Sabah Malaysia

Chicken Rendang from Sabah Malaysia

Chicken Rendang is found everywhere in Sabah, Malaysia

With its origins found deep in the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia, Rendang has spread across South East Asia. from Indonesia  to Malaysia,  southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern islands of The Philippine.

Rendang is a unique dish that I thoroughly enjoyed in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

What is Rendang?

Rendang can be made from beef, mutton, or in this case chicken. The meat is tenderized to near butter like consistency by marinating it in coconut milk and hot spices. I’m usually dubious as to just how tasty a “stew” like meal can be. However rendang is no stew.

I recently learned how the coconut milk is made for traditional rendang. Old coconut white flesh is ground down, and boiled in water for 20 minutes, drained, and then used in the rest of the rendang ingredients.

So no, cans, dried packets, or fresh coconut liquid here. And, it’s for the better!

How is chicken rendang made?

The trick is to cook the dish until all the liquid has been reduced. Leaving behind a wonderfully flavorsome meat dish that’s woefully tender. So says the lady who cooked this Chicken Rendang dish for me.

Following this, shallots are added with peppers and the result is an amazing fusion of flavors that out do many, many other dishes here in Sabah. Highly recommended!

This is an additional post and one of a series highlighting Food in Sabah, Malaysia

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16 Great responses to Food from Sabah Malaysia: Chicken Rendang

  1. Anna's World says:

    Chicken and Coconut, how could you go wrong? Love the idea of it marinading for hours like that. Must be so good to have all this great food nearby.

  2. Jan says:

    Looks great, hoping one day to travel malaysia so I can sample this myself

  3. Tony says:

    What are the big white chunks?

  4. Samantha Webber says:

    This was my favorite dish in Malaysia. Brings back sweet memories, thank you.

  5. Simon says:

    It looks absolutely delicious! I’ve never been to Malaysia not tasted the cuisine but I remember how much I liked Brazilian stews, often made with coconut milk (plus lots of other spices).

    Now… You made me hungry. And it’s still early in the morning :-)

  6. Heather says:

    The Chicken Rendang looks delicious! What kind of camera do you have?
    I will also be writing on Sunday about food for Blog Action Day, thank you for sharing this!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hi there,

    I love this site, and you are inspiring me to get out from this cubicle!

    Is Malaysia the best tasting nation in the world you’ve been too? Just curious.

    • Good question Jennifer … Malaysia certainly ranks up there for great tasting variety. Aside from the Tandoori chicken in Penang, I’ve yet to find another “ultimate” dish. Best meal I ever had was in Spain, but I don’t like Spanish food in general. The roast mutton in I had in Pakistan was pretty amazing too!

  8. suelin says:

    excellent blog as always. most of the caribbean islands also cook with coconut milk – i find it adds fantastic flavour and texture to our stews, curries, soups, savory rice dishes as well. my grandmother showed me how to make coconut milk similar to your description, and coconut oil as well from scratch.
    i am in jamaica this week, and found out yesterday during a tour of bob marley’s home/museum that his food was always cooked with coconut milk.

    • Well, that’s another one for the books. I’m beginning to guess every country that grows coconuts uses them in cooking. And why not, as you point out it really does add a lot to the flavor of so many dishes.