Beef Semur from West Java (Daging Semur) I

Indonesian Semur- Smoor with BeefThis sounds just so simple: beef semur or beef stew. This number 136 from Beb Vuyk’s book is a delicious West-Javanese version. The beef is sautéed in butter not in oil. It turns into this deep dark color and is juicy and tender.

This recipe is enough for 3 people and because the beef needs a few hours to simmer and marinate it takes about 4,5 hours to make (and you can do loads of other things in the meantime ;-).

Beef semur from West-Java (Daging semur) I. Recipe #136 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch kookboek, page 144.


1/2 kg of beef (with some fat)
4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 liter of water


2 tablespoons of chopped onions
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
asem (tamarind)

Mix the asem paste with salt and marinate the beef in this sauce for several hours. Wipe it dry and cut it into thick slices of about 1 centimeter in thickness. Sprinkle the slices with pepper and nutmeg. Sauté the onions in the butter until yellow, add the meat and sauté in the pan until brown. Finish the sauce with soy sauce and 2 to 3 deciliter of water (little over one cup) and simmer until the meat is tender.

Indonesian Semur- Smoor with Beef- Ingredients - Beb VuykI buy high quality meat. It’s organic and already pretty tender. I buy about 400 grams (Beb’s recipe is with 500 grams of meat). I keep the amount of the rest of the ingredients as in Beb’s recipe.

Nutmeg, salt and pepper

Beb seldom explains how much pepper, salt and nutmeg goes into her recipes, like in this #136. I use 2 teaspoons of nutmeg,  1 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper for my 400 grams of meat.

Indonesian Semur marinate - Smoor with Beef


I make a paste with asem (tamarind) I buy in a jar at my Asian food shop. It has already been filtered and thus ready to use. I mix 1 teaspoon with warm water and the salt and marinate the beef for 1 hour.

Less quality meat needs longer.

Beef Semur - daging semur- nutmeg

I cut my beef into strips. It’s very tender already. I rub the slices with the nutmeg and pepper powder.

Semur beef - sauté in pan - classic west-javanese recipe


The onions are sautéed in 4 tablespoons of butter. I add the meat when my onions turn yellow. I sauté the beef for a minute or two until the pieces turn darker.

Smoor with beef soy sauce - kecap manis - classic recipe

Kecap or soy sauce

The soy sauce gives the dish its dark color, beautiful. I use kecap manis, a super sweet soy sauce (Heinz ABC soy sauce).

Semur Indonesian beef stew - add water

Boiling hot water

Now I add the water. I always use hot water. Never cold. My mom always says that it’s not good for the meat. If you use cold water, It will be not as tender.


I simmer the meat until done on super low heat, without the lid on. The sauce thickens and turns into a delicious dark color.

My semur is finished after 1,5 hours. If your meat is not done yet, add some more warm water and let it simmer for another 30 minutes and check again.

I sprinkle some lemon juice on top before serving.

Indonesian Semur- Smoor with Beef- Beb Vuyk

Creamy, sweet and tender

This Indonesian beef stew from West-Java is juicy, creamy, sweet and tender. Great with homemade chili salsa (sambal). We eat our semur with white rice and an Indonesian vegetable dish.

Beb Vuyk, best known for her Groot Indonesisch Kookboek (Great Indonesian Cook Book), was much more than a great cook. She belongs to the most important Dutch-Indonesian (Indo) writers and journalists of her time. Check this out.

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1 Response

  1. Joyce Egloria says:

    Thank you love that you post in English I can’t read Dutch very well I moved to the states when I was 6 months old and really miss mom and dads cooking

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