Food & wine

Meat Balinese style (daging masak bali)

I use (and abuse) this recipe a lot. It comes from a book called simply 'Indonesian Cookery' by David Scott with Surya Winata, which I bought from the library as a 'withdrawn' book for 10p.

Meat balinese style

While it doesn't have glossy pictures, it is packed with authentic recipes which have been translated with clear explanations for those less familiar with Asian cooking or without access to all the ingredients. But the best thing about the recipe below, I think, is that it can be adapted for leftover joints of meat and so is often trotted out in our house as a tastebud-tingling way to use up leftover chicken, beef, lamb or pork. I don't tend to make it as hot as the original recipe as that would be truly vinicidal!

I have found the recipe to work well with zesty, zingy whites, like gewürztraminer, riesling or rapier-like sauvignon blancs, but the match made in heaven for me (and discovered by accident, thanks to taking home the dregs of a bottle from our tasting room) was with a medium-dry oloroso sherry – Sanchéz Romate's Don José Medium Dry Oloroso. I had read about sherry going well with curry somewhere and had never quite believed it, but weirdly, it so worked. Maybe it's something to do with the umami flavours that both the food and the wine share and the balance between sweet and sour.

Everyone's tastebuds are different though, so do experiment and find your favourite combo. If you're interested in reading more about the science of taste, by the way, Caroline Gilby MW wrote a fascinating article on the subject for us.

Meat Balinese Style (Daging Masak Bali)

Serves 4

A simple but effective recipe which is very hot. Reduce the number of chillies if you prefer things less spicy. Beef is the traditional meat used in this recipe, but lamb, mutton or pork can be substituted and it can be adapted to use leftovers too. Serve hot with rice and vegetables. I often throw in some quickly steamed green beans or broccoli florets just before the end of cooking.


  • 3-4 fresh or dried red chillies (I tend to use 1!)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1"/2.5cm piece root ginger. Chopped
  • 1 tsp prawn or shrimp paste (entirely optional)
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1lb/450g lean beef, thinly sliced and cut into strips
  • 6 fl oz/175 ml water, boiling
  • 2 tbsp dark soya sauce
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • A couple of handfuls of lightly steamed green beans or broccoli florets (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander to garnish


  1. Put the chillies, onion, garlic, root ginger, prawn paste (if used) and oil into a blender and blend them to a paste. Alternatively, dice the chillies, onion, garlic and ginger as finely as possible and pound them to a paste with the oil and prawn paste using a pestle and mortar. Add the paste to a wok or frying pan over a moderate heat and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Take care! Depending on how many chillies you have used, your eyes may start to water at this point.
  2. Add the strips of meat and continue to stir fry, turning the meat now and again, until the meat is lightly browned on both sides (or heated through if using leftovers). Pour in the boiling water, soya sauce, sugar and lemon juice, stir well, season to taste and cover and simmer over a low heat until the beef is tender (about 30 minutes, or 5-6 minutes if using pre-cooked meat). Uncover, throw in the greens if using, and continue to cook until the liquid has practically evaporated.
  3. Serve garnished with fresh coriander and plain boiled rice.
Joanna Goodman

Senior Editor

Joanna Goodman

Part of our Marketing Team for over 30 years, Jo has been editor of Society News for much of that time as well as contributing to our many other communications.

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