“Singapore’s original fusion food, Nyonya cuisine, also known as Peranakan, features strong Malay and Indonesian influences with its use of spices and coconut milk. In this recipe, beef shin results in a beautifully tender meat, whilst the coconut milk and candlenuts make a moreish sauce.” Adam Liaw, Destination Flavour Singapore






Skill level

Average: 4 (59 votes)


  • 600 g beef shin, cut into large pieces about 6 cm long x 3 cm wide and 2 cm thick
  • 750 ml (3 cups) thick coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¾–1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
  • 3 makrut lime leaves
  • 1 turmeric leaf (see Note)
  • steamed rice, to serve

Spice paste

  • 5 dried whole chillies, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, or 1 tbsp dried chilli paste
  • 5 candlenuts, lightly toasted
  • 100 g fresh red chillies, stems discarded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (belacan)
  • 160 g red Asian shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander powder (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time 30 minutes

To make the spice paste, if using dried chillies, drain them from the hot water, then cut into small pieces. Place the candlenuts in a mortar and pestle and pound until semi-fine. Add the fresh chilli and pound until semi-fine, then add the dried chilli, pound for 3-4 minutes or until a paste forms. Add the shrimp paste and pound well, then add the shallot and coriander powder, if using, and pound until the mixture is very fine. Alternatively, you can grind the ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste forms.

Place the spice paste in a heavy-based saucepan with the beef and all the remaining ingredients and 250 ml (1 cup) water. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to as low as possible and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the beef is very tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened. During cooking, you may need to add a little extra water if the gravy gets too thick before the beef is tender. Remove the lemongrass, turmeric leaf and lime leaves, then serve with steamed rice. Garnish with lime leaves and chilli, if you like.



• Turmeric leaves can be found at large Asian greengrocers either fresh or frozen. If you can’t find any, just leave it out.


Image by Adam Liaw.


Destination Flavour Singapore airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS. Visit the program page for more details, recipes and guides.