I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.


Gluten and lactose are not my friends.


Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.


I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

August 12, 2013

Balinese Braised Beef Cheeks





This is a Beef Cheek
It's not the prettiest cut of meat, but it sure is one of the tastiest and usually great value too- this one cost me about $4, and it will feed my whole family cooked like this with some rice



As you might have guessed, it comes from the cheek of a cow. Being working muscles, they need lots of long, slow cooking to break down all the connective tissue and it also means that they become meltingly tender and delicious when cooked juuuust right.

The best way to cook them is to braise the cheeks with plenty of liquid like red wine or stock, or even my way with coconut milk. I don't know if Beef Cheeks are really a Balinese speciality, but I used all the same flavour profiles that I usually do and I think I definitely came up with a winner here indeed!





Balinese Braised Beef Cheeks
this should make about 8 big serves

2 nice big Beef Cheeks
2 stalks of Lemongrass
4 Garlic cloves
3 Shallots
3 long red Chilli
5cm piece of Ginger
3cm Galangal
3cm Tumeric
2 tab Sugar
1 piece/tab Belachan (Shrimp Paste)
6 Kaffir Lime Leaves
half bunch of Coriander
2 cans Coconut Milk or Cream
Lime juice


Mix all the lovely fresh herbs up together, except the lime leaves- doesn't that smell amazing!
Now you have some choice here, you could pound them in a mortar and pestle, mince them or blitz them all up in a food processor. Pounding really breaks down the fibres well and lets all the flavours mingle properly with each other. Mincing is pretty good too as it crushes everything up, but the fibres are coarser. Blitzing is really the last choice because each component is chopped up and really remains in tiny little separate bits instead of cosying up to everything else all nice and neighbourly. Blitzing is fine if you're in a hurry, but it's best if you can leave the meat in the paste for a while so the flavours really get in there




Now this is stinky stuff indeed!
Salted, dried, pounded then fermented, the shrimp paste is essential in so many SE Asian dishes, and gives a real depth of flavour that can't be matched




It needs to be toasted before using though- so turn on the fan, open the windows, and hold your breath!
I just cook off the raw taste by toasting it off in a pan for a few minutes until it dries out and goes crumbly, but you can wrap it in foil and bake it for about 10 minutes instead if you like




Mix the shrimp paste and sugar with the minced herbs and mix it all together well




Pat the mixture all over the beef cheeks, coating both sides nice and thickly. You can leave them to marinate for a couple of hours now if you like, but it's fine to start cooking it straight away if you just can't wait




Pour one can of coconut cream into the base of the pan. Then pop the cheeks in too. You want one with a lid and that holds the cheeks nice and snugly so all the juices and moisture can't escape, I stacked the meat on top of each other with plenty of paste in between them.  Place the kaffir lime leaves around them for extra flavour




Carefully pour the extra cream over the top, but don't wash off the wet paste




Bake in a slow oven at 160*C for about 4 hours, or until the meat is so soft you can cut it with a spoon. The connective tissue has broken down totally now and there won't be any resistance




There's no point trying to carve the meat as it will just fall apart, so you can either pull off big chunks, or just pull it apart with a fork and spoon like I did into little pieces




Mix the meat back through the sauces so you don't miss a drop of deliciousness




Serve simply with some rice and a splash of lime juice just to wake up all the flavours and freshen it up a little
Warm, spicy, fragrant, rich and delicious. A little of this meal really goes a long way and I promise the flavours develop and get even nicer if you leave it a day or two- but that's rare indeed at my house!



So Dear Readers, have you tried Beef Cheeks and do you often cook with secondary cuts of meat?








30 comments:

  1. Mmm you can just see the amount of flavour in these!! I've just come back from Thailand so I'm in love with these spices :)

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    1. Oh you lucky thing you Lorraine, it's on my must-visit list for sure! The spices are just so lovely and fresh aren't they? xox

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  2. Rebecca - sounds scrumptious! I have never tried beef cheeks before...love the spices in this dish yummm!

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    1. Thanks Ina! You really have to try them though, they are so soft and scrummy :)

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  3. I would love to try beef cheeks but don't know where I'd find them. I should ask around. You make them sound so delicious when cooked this way.

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    1. Thanks John! Maybe a real butcher where they prepare their own cuts of meat? I just got mine at the supermarket..

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  4. Bec, I have yet to cook with beef cheeks, but saw many chefs using them in the cooking school... your recipe sounds melt in the mouth.... and I love the step by step instructions. I must try this!

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    1. Thanks Lizzie, it's certainly a great one to set-and-forget. Beef cheeks are fantastic to work with as they don't really need any work at all- that's why us chefs like them, they make us look good!

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  5. Oooh Becca, what a recipe! My tribe won't go near beef cheeks, but I'm sure it would work just as well with brisket. And thank you for the explanation about grinding the paste - I always wondered why there was a difference between a pounded paste and a blitzed one! xx

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    1. Isn't it funny Celia, they love pork belly and other lovely gooey, gelatinousy types of meat- is it just the idea of it? The way you prepare a paste really changes the the flavour, like the way you cut or crush your garlic releases different amounts of flavour too :) xox

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  6. This must smell fantastic as it's cooking. I thought beef cheeks had to be cooked for longer than four hours so I've not yet cooked with them - am never quite that organised. But you've inspired me to give it a go and I'm all for cooking with cheaper cuts of meat xx

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    1. I loved your version too Charlie, it looked so yummy- especially with all the mushrooms! Aren't the cheaper cuts great? But sadly the trendier the secondary cuts of meat become, the more expensive they get too! xox

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  7. I love the gelatinous unctuousness of beef cheek and often use it for the familys two favourite dishes....Indonesian Rendang Daging and good old Boeuf Bourguignon. I love 'Jeenys' roasted Belachan and while my family say they don't like it they always eat any dish that has it in it and are none the wiser....kind of like hiding grated zucchini into mince burgers :-)

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    1. Hi Corrie! I use anchovies like that too, and my family never knows either!! I'm a great beliver in adding in extra veggies where I can, but in my cake it's not hiding them from the kiddies, but hiding them from my husband :)

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  8. WOW!!I need to drag out my Balinese recipes, I love that flavour profile... but first I will be trying this dish!!
    YUM!
    I love the beef cheek when it is cooked just right, as you say, so delicious and tasty!

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    1. You've had so much South East Asian flavour with your travels lately- but I couldn't get sick of them either! :)

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  9. I had no idea you were supposed to cook off shrimp paste before using it. This looks like the perfect dish for having friends over - I bet it's impressive to bring out and mix all together in front of everyone.

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    1. I always cook out tomato paste too Nancy, it tastes the raw edge harshness off it. I love a dish with a bit of drama, and this is great as it surprises guests when you pull it apart with a spoon :)

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  10. Just saw some beef cheeks and was dreaming about Thai so will follow this recipe

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    1. Hope you like it Simcha, does your Middle Eastern husband like South East Asian flavours too? I know how much you do :)

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  11. Now I see how Charlie got so excited. This is such a delicious sounding recipe. I love beef cheeks. x

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    1. Thanks Tania! I love a dish that makes me look good :) Are you back from your travels for a while, or are you setting off again? xox

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  12. I find this dish to be very interesting and different! I've never had beef cheeks (or even seen them before).

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    1. Thanks Amy! I hope you can get hold of some, they are just a lovely cut of beef indeed!

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  13. Wow, I love beef cheeks but I have never made any like this. You've got such complex, wonderful flavour packed into those cheeks.

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    1. Thanks Maureen! These flavours are definitely the best in the world, I think! :)

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  14. I made this for dinner tonight. Even without several ingredients - I had no galangal, tumeric or coriander - it was ridiculously tasty, and a great change from the red wine sauce that's typically paired with beef cheeks. And so easy! Thanks for the recipe. Will definitely be making this one again.

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  15. I have made this now about 10 times. It is without doubt my favorite recipe. And we make it on special occasions or when we have people over. The flavor combination is just so delicious. Thankyou :-)

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  16. Would this be advisable to cook in a slow cooker?

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    1. That shouldn't be a problem, you would just have to play around with the time to suit your slow cooker. Hope it works out and Let me know how it goes :)

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