November 18, 2010

Daging Masak Kicap (Sweet Soya Sauce Beef Stew)

If there is one Malay dish that deserves the world's attention, I would not hesitate to nominate "Daging Masak Kicap", an elegant and beautifully aromatic beef stew.  I have cooked this awesome dish and served it to family members and guests of various ethnic backgrounds and taste palettes so many times that I have lost count.  What remains vivid in my memory though is everyone's delightful "Hmmm" and "Oh wow!", followed by "What's the recipe for this, please?".  My husband loves this dish so much that he nearly petitioned for me to make it everyday.  Typically eaten with plain white rice, it's one of my personal favourites too.  Although I have been eating it since I was a toddler because my mum made it wonderfully, I still go "oooh!", "aaah!" with every bite of my own version.  I must have gotten the knack for making this dish from my mum. So, this one's made lovingly in her honour.      

Champignons a.k.a button mushrooms are sold in cans.  I adore the soft and rubbery
texture of these little gems

When you were looking at the first picture above, I bet visions of the French's traditional stew, Beef Bourguignon, were playing in your head.  Uncanny resemblance, huh? I have never tried making BB but I remember a scene from the movie "Julie & Julia" in which Julie, while making BB, fell asleep and nearly burnt her kitchen down - the result of an elaborately long cooking time.  If you're anything like me - enthusiastic about cooking but a little lazy to wait around the stove or oven for hours - Daging Masak Kicap will bring you instant gastronomic pleasure minus the sweat.  It is sweet, salty, aromatic and mildly spicy (coriander & cumin seeds).  A bonus if you could get the right cut of fresh and tender meat as every bite of the succulent beef promises an ultimate satisfaction.     

With rice or bread, this Daging Masak Kicap is a crowd-pleaser

If red wine is the answer to a good BB, the non-alcoholic secret weapon for this Malay stew is "kicap manis" (sweet soya sauce).  There are many Indonesian versions of the sauce and there are varieties of Chinese sweet soya sauce too.  But the one that does the trick for this dish is Habhal's Kicap Manis Cap Kipas Udang from Malaysia.  Remember that brand, a mouthful notwithstanding.  I can write a lot about this outstanding sauce and make everyone familiar with it drool on their computer keyboard or iPhone but I'll leave that to next time.  Suffice to say that it is so good, it even has its own Facebook fanpage. If you're living in a non-Asian country, globalisation has enabled us to find exotic or foreign ingredients pretty easily in the Asian section of major supermarkets.  I nearly clapped my feet in the air for having found Habhal's Kicap Manis Cap Kipas Udang at my grocer's here in Australia.  Daging Masak Kicap for world domination! Yeeeha!

Some of my comfort food including Habhal's Kicap Manis
Cap Kipas Udang (bottle on right)


Grind to form a paste
2 large red onions
4 cloves garlic
2cm fresh ginger
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds 


500gm gravy cut beef - cut into 4cm cubes, wash and drain
1 tbsp chilli or curry powder
1 fresh carrot - cut in 1/2cm circles
2 potatoes - deskinned and cut in wedges
1 can of champignons - cut into halves
100ml Habhal's Kicap Manis Cap Kipas Udang (or any Indonesian sweet soya sauce)
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
1 1/2 cups water
Cooking oil
Sugar to taste 
Coriander/parsley leaves for garnishing


1.  In a medium non-stick pot, heat oil and add cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and cardamoms.  Add the ground paste and chilli/curry powder.  Fry for 3-4 mins until fragrant.  Stir occasionally to prevent paste from sticking to the base of the pot.

2.  Add beef.  Fry and stir the paste until beef is lighly covered. 

3.  Add kicap manis (soya sauce) and water.  Let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes until beef is tender, stirring it occasionally.

4.  Add potatoes and boil further until the potatoes are soft.  Add carrots and champignons.  Add 1-2 tbsp sugar to taste.  Cook until the stew becomes slightly thicker and meat fully tender.  Turn heat off and serve with white rice or bread.    


- Other vegetable subsitutes include baby corns and tomatoes.  If tomatoes are used, add it just before turning heat off to prevent them from bleeding and getting over-cooked.

- This stew can be kept in the fridge for days.  Re-heat in microwave when serving left-over portion.

Fearlessly Simple & Home Cooked


  1. great post, I really like it. Thanks for posting. :)

  2. thank you! do try out the recipe. it will leave you wanting more ;))