Indonesian culinary expert William Wongso said it was unnecessary to apply for a patent for the rendang dish originating from West Sumatra and that Indonesians should not be apprehensive about the dish being claimed by other countries, especially Malaysia.
JP/Wendra Ajistyatama “The cuisine need not be patented. Let them claim it because apparently, people from West Sumatra’s Minangkabau ethnic group have also migrated and settled there,” said Wongso, who acted as a judge at the two-day West Sumatra Rendang Cooking Festival, which ended on Thursday in Padang.
Wongso cited the Japanese foods of sushi and sashimi, as well as the Korean fare galbi, as food that had not been patented.
“Japan and Korea have never registered the dishes for patent. They are instead happy that their dishes are eaten everywhere,” he said.
The important thing now, said Wongso, was to communicate the right method of preparing rendang outside of West Sumatra, because the taste of rendang served by many restaurants outside Indonesia was not good enough.
He cited a rendang dish in the Netherlands that tasted like semur, which tastes sweet. “Many people cook rendang but they wish to cook it quickly, whereas in fact it should be simmered slowly and with patience,” he said.
Wongso said that the rendang in Malaysia was also different from that in West Sumatra. Malaysian rendang is influenced by Indian food, which is rich in dried and aromatic Indian spices. Besides that, the rendang in Malaysia uses dessicated coconut and not only beef or buffalo meat, but also chicken.
“According to me, rendang that is not overcooked or burnt is not rendang, as long as it is not bitter. Coconut milk, which is mixed with other ingredients and simmered slowly, creates an extraordinary aroma in the rendang,” he said.
Wongso acknowledged that he acquired a new idea after attending the festival, which was ever organized by the West Sumatra Tourism and Culture Office in Padang.
Participants, who came from 17 regencies and municipalities, prepared the dish differently from one another. The festival also organized a contest on Minang song composition regarding rendang.
“As we arrive in the Minangkabau area, we can no longer call it Padang rendang, because rendang also comes from Solok, Payakumbuh, Bukittinggi, Pariaman and other areas. Instead we should call it ‘Padang rendang’ outside West Sumatra. This differentiates our rendang from that in Malaysia,” he said.
According to Wongso, the market segment for rendang in Indonesia alone is huge, because everyone knows it. “If one million people alone buy rendang, it’s a huge market,” he said.
Out of 98 participants, there was one who cooked rendang for hotdogs and hamburgers.
That participant was Izzati Elsa Putri from Padang State University. She made rendang as a direct replacement for sausages in hotdogs.
“The rendang meat is arranged in such a way so that it fits with the hotdogs,” said Izzati, a student of cookery of the university, as quoted by Antara news agency.
In its serving, the bread was also smeared with cooked coconut milk that was combined with crackers and lettuce.
Another participant, Susan Karamoy, served up rendang hamburgers. Susan, who hails from Manado, North Sulawesi, and is married to a West Sumatran man, admitted to getting the idea for the dish when she was living in Philadelphia, in the US.
“In the US people like to eat hamburgers, so that basically inspired me to make them with a rendang content,” she said.
Susan said she frequently received orders from both Indonesians and Americans for wedding parties. “The Americans like rendang very much. One piece of rendang was sold for US$8,” Susan said.