Indonesian Makassar Beef Coto (Coto Makassar)

Coto (also spelled Soto) is a category an Indonesian soups that are stew-like in nature, and usually feature meat, broth and vegetables. This Makassar Coto, hailing from Sulawesi, combines slow-cooked beef cheeks with herbs, spices and peanuts to create a rich, thick stew that is beautifully tender, delicious and filling. The recipe is from The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliott.

Indonesian Makassar Beef Coto

Read my full review of Petty Pandean-Elliott’s The Indonesian Table.

Indonesian Makassar Beef Coto (Coto Makassar)

This dish always brings back fond childhood memories of eating out with my family at a popular restaurant in Manado. Makassar beef coto is a well-known Makassar restaurant dish prepared with herbs and spices and thickened with finely ground peanuts. Beef cheeks have an unctuous, melt-in-the-mouth tenderness in this slow-cooked favourite. You could also replace it with topside (top round) if you wish.
Author Petty Pandean-Elliott


For the paste:

  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 banana shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) fresh root ginger, thinly sliced
  • 10 g (¼ oz) galangal, thinly sliced

For the spice blend:

  • 1 2-cm (3⁄4-inch) stick cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cloves
  • For the beef:
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) beef cheeks or topside (top round), cut into 2-cm (3⁄4-inch) cubes
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 5 makrut lime leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed and tied into a knot
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 100 g (3 1⁄2 oz / scant 1 cup) finely ground raw peanuts
  • Juice of 1 lime

For the toppings:

  • 3 tablespoons crispy shallots
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced

To serve:

  • Steamed rice


Miso sambal is a good choice of condiment to serve with this dish.


  • To make the paste, combine all the ingredients in a small blender and blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • To prepare the spice blend, dry-roast the spices in a frying pan over medium heat for 4–5 minutes. Leave to cool. Transfer the mixture, except for the cinnamon, into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
  • To prepare the beef, heat the oil and paste in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir for 5–6 minutes.
  • Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until the meat is coated in the paste. Add the spice blend, cinnamon stick, lime leaves, lemongrass and miso. Mix well. Add 1.5 litres of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour. Using a ladle, skim any scum from the surface. Add the peanuts and cook for another hour, until the beef is tender.
  • Add the lime juice, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with crispy shallots and spring onions (scallions). Serve with steamed rice and miso sambal.

Beef cheeks are my favourite cut of beef for long and slow cooked stews, and they give this dish a beautiful tenderness and depth of flavour.

Indonesian Makassar Beef Coto

Please also find more Indonesian recipes and content, here.


Recipe from The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliott published with permission from Phaidon Press. Photographs by Kavita Favelle. 

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