Recipe by Joseph Hernandez
A dish I wrote off as a child but have since rekindled my love for is kare-kare, a stew that is a staple dish in many Filipino households. Made with a thick peanut sauce and featuring meat like goat, tripe or—most commonly—oxtail, it is often made for large family gatherings and the holidays. Many households serve it with bagoong (a salty, dried shrimp paste) on the side for added flavor. As fall ramps up, I begin to crave this hearty stew, rich with eggplant, bok choy and string beans. Like lumpia, it is grounding and reminds me of the food traditions on which I was raised: hearty, flavorful fare, lovingly prepared by Mom.
Note: Salt is not traditionally used to flavor this dish, as the bagoong is the delivery agent for this particular flavor note. However, if you are allergic to shellfish, you can opt to use sea salt to your tastes. Also, using a slow cooker is a great time-saving option, as is a pressure cooker.
Calories per serving: 400 per serving
2-3 lbs ox tail, cut in 2 in slices (or beef)
2 large onions , roughly chopped
2 medium carrots , roughly chopped
1 celery stalk , roughly chopped
8 cups water
2 ½ cups finely ground peanuts, or 1/2 cup good quality peanut butter
1/3 cup Jasmine rice or 1/4 cup rice flour
1 tbsp annatto powder
2 Japanese eggplants
¼ bundle string beans
1 piece of banana bud/heart (optional)
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup bagoong (fermented shrimp paste)
1. Heat a large Dutch oven or casserole dish. Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan, followed by the meat. Brown on all sides. When complete, transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.
2. Add the garlic, onions, carrots and celery to the Dutch oven used to brown the meat. Season with salt and pepper, and saute until brown.
3. At this point, add the seared meat back into the pot. Cover the meat and vegetable mixture with water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the temperature to a simmer and cook for 2-4 hours, until meat is fork tender.
(The above steps can be done the day before. When completing the recipe the next day, skim off the fat before proceeding with the stew. Alternatively, the above steps can also be done using a pressure cooker or slow-cooker.)
4. If preparing same day, after the meat has become fork tender, skim fat from the stock.
5. While stock is simmering prepare other ingredients: dry-toast ground peanuts in a pan, set aside. In same pan, dry toast rice or rice flour. If using whole rice, use food processor to finely grind. Combine rice and ground peanuts in a bowl. Add enough of your stock to create a paste of this mixture and set aside.
6. Prepare other vegetables: cube eggplant, cut string beans into 2 inch pieces, cut banana bud (first in half, lengthwise, then into 2 inch pieces, cross-wise).
7. Add annatto to stock. Add vegetables to the meat and stock, and cook until done (you don't want to overcook them, so remove as soon as the vegetables are cooked). Scoop out the vegetables and meat, placing in a serving bowl.
8. To the simmering stock, mix roasted rice and peanut paste with the stock, whisking in. The stock should thicken, about three minutes. At this point, adjust the seasonings to your taste.
9. To serve, pour the thickened sauce over the meat and vegetables. Serve hot with steamed rice, and if desired, bagoong on the side.