Indonesian-inspired beef and vegetable bowls

Spiced-up flank steak with chili, coconut and more!

I’ve never been to Indonesia but this island archipelago is a land that has long fascinated me. Sambal Oelek is one of the ingredients I reach for very often in my kitchen; it is a ground fresh chili paste that hails from Indonesia and is so versatile and flavourful. Other elements such as lime, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and coconut help this delicious dish fit the taste profile of many Indonesian recipes. For a wine pairing, I would suggest a Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. A medium-bodied, well-structured wine, it is nicely balanced with fruity and smoky notes that complement rather than overwhelm the warm spices and coconut garnish in this dish.


  • 1 1/2 pounds (675 g) flank steak
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) soy sauce (use tamari for a gluten-free dish)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Sambal Oelek (Indonesian chili paste), or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 red pepper, cut in thin 1.5 inch (3.5 cm) strips
  • 1 green pepper, cut in thin 1.5 inch (3.5 cm) strips
  • 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) sweetened, shredded dried coconut, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh coriander leaves, torn or chopped
  • cooked basmati rice, to serve


  • Score steak on both sides with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern and place in a sturdy plastic bag.
  • Combine soy sauce, lime juice and 1/4 cup pineapple juice and pour over steak. Close bag tightly and marinate in fridge for 3 – 12 hours.
  • When ready to prepare the dish, coat the bottom of a large, heavy duty frying pan with the vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat to warm up.
  • When the pan is hot, add steak and sear quickly on both sides (2 minutes per side) then transfer to a cutting board.
  • Reduce heat to medium and let pan cool for a minute. Add garlic, Sambal Oelek, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon to frying pan. Stir to toast spices for 2 minutes, then add peppers and onions. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add water.
  • Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated and onions and peppers are tender-crisp (about 4 – 5 minutes).
  • While vegetables cook, slice steak against the grain into very thin slices then cut the slices cross-wise so they are in bite-sized pieces about 1 inch/2.5 cm long. Note that the steak will be extremely rare (almost raw) in the middle but you will be cooking it some more.
  • Return steak to frying pan along with remaining pineapple juice and cook, stirring, over moderate heat, until steak is cooked through. Serve on beds of cooked rice with coconut and coriander sprinkled on top.

Serves 4 – 6.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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