Seng Geseng beef from Madura

This is the most tender beef dish I have made so far. This seng geseng from the Indonesian island of Madura is extremely tender because of the tamarind (asem). It gets its flavor from trassi, onions and garlic. Totally simple and simply delicious.

We eat nowadays less meat than in the past (because of environment reasons), but once a week we buy good quality free-range meat and turn it into something special.


This seng geseng recipe is extremely suitable for a terrific Indonesian meal. You can even turn it into a small feast if you also make: yellow rice (nasi kuning), homemade sambal, home-made coconut shavings (serundeng) and an acar of cucumber (atjar ketimun) to accompany your Madurese seng geseng.

No sambal

I think this recipe does not necessarily belong in the sambal goreng chapter where it is now in Beb’s book. I think it should be part of the next chapter: ‘meat dishes‘ because every recipe in the sambal goreng chapter is made with some kind of sambal (obviously). This seng geseng is free of sambal which makes it deliciously tender.

Sambal can be a perfect side dish by the way. I have over 25 different sambal recipes on this blog. Check it out here.

This dish is ready in about 3 hours and is enough for 2-3 people.

Seng Gèsèng (Madurese dish) # 88 translated from Beb Vuyk Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 100.


  • 1/4 kg of beef
  • 5 tablespoons sliced ​​onion
  • 2 cloves of sliced ​​garlic
  • 1 teaspoon terasi (fermented shrimp paste)
  • asem (tamarind) the size of 2 walnuts
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • salt
  1. Cut the meat into dices of +/- 2 cm.
  2. Fry in the oil.
  3. Add the sliced ​​onions and garlic too.
  4. Meanwhile, make asem water from the asem (tamarind) with 5 tablespoons of water, remove the seeds and fibers and push it through a sieve.
  5. Mix the terasi (shrimp paste) with 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water.
  6. The asem-terasi mixture is then added to the meat. This needs to simmer over low heat until the meat is cooked and the dish is almost dry. Add some tablespoons of water if necessary.

I buy good quality beef and I use red onions today. They are a bit sweeter and go well with this seng geseng. I buy filtered tamarind at my local Asian shop.

Trassi is fermented shrimp paste with a strong odor also available at a local Asian store. Trassi is used a lot in southeast Asian cuisine but also on the Indian subcontinent and in Southern Chinese cuisines (wiki).

I use my cast-iron pan, because beef simmers very well in it. My beef needs at least 2,5 hours to cook. For the last 45 minutes (approximately) I leave the lid off the pan, so my seng geseng reduces and turns almost into a dry meat dish exactly as the recipe states.

First I sauté the meat with the onions and garlic in a few tablespoons of oil.

While this cooks, I make a sauce of the trassi and the asem (tamarind). First I soften the trassi by stirring it firmly with a tablespoon of hot water.

I don’t have to filter my tamarind as Beb explains in her recipe, because I already buy filtered tamarind.

I scoop this tamarind-trassi mix into the pan and mix it in well with the meat. Now everything can be simmered over low heat until dry and done.

The flavor of the trassi stands out really well. The onions and the tamarind make the meat super tender. I serve my seng geseng in a few cabbage leaves and sprinkle some fried onions (bawang goreng) on top; makes it looks special and delicious. Selamat makan!

Want to see more meat dishes by Beb Vuyk? Check out this link.

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