The plethora of food diaries seen in blogs, magazines and even TV shows, has opened the door to a more accepting food culture. It is now fashionable to try something different. What was deemed intimidating is now called fresh, bold and ground-breaking. Anthony Bourdain was way ahead of his time. From dining at a sushi bar to feasting on prime rib steaks, it is now cool to enjoy good food. Food is no longer taken just for nourishment, food is now savored, talked about and even watched by millions on TV. Who would have thunk?
For today's dish, I hope you still keep an open mind. For us Filipinos, kare-kare holds a very special place in our foodscape. It is usually served as part of our "special" dinner spread - always present in parties and in celebrating special occasions. Kare-kare tastes better when shared with family and friends. The classic kare-kare recipe is a stew in peanut sauce with oxtail, beef, vegetables and tripe. As a dish often prepared for fiestas throughout the country, kare-kare is comfort food for Filipinos living abroad.
When done exquisitely, it serves as a time machine that brings you back to your hometown as a kid - remembering the fiestas and special events you celebrated with your family. A bite into the stew brings the peanut sauce front and center followed by the tripe that melts in your mouth What puts you over the edge is the sliver of bagoong (shrimp paste) you add to a spoonful of the stew, as there is no other taste like it. And there is no place like Home...
Kare-Kare (Oxtail and Tripe Stew in Peanut Sauce)
2-3 lbs of oxtail cut into pieces (they usually come in packs already cut)
2-3 lbs tripe
1/4 c rice, toasted then pulverized (use Kare kare mix as an alternative)
3- 4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 tsp annato powder
2 onions (1 for sauteing, one for tenderizing the meat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pcs eggplant (sliced)
1 bundle string beans (sliced, 3 inch long)
Rub rock salt on the oxtail to clean. Rinse thoroughly. On a stockpot, place the oxtail and submerge it with water. Allow the water to boil. Discard the water. Rinse the oxtail and discard the water. In the same stockpot, submerge the oxtail with water again. Throw in some bay leaf, peppercorn and celery. Boil until tender. You could use the stock later, but make sure to remove the fat that settles on top.
Do the same procedure with the tripe. Usually the tripe sold here in the US is already white and clean. But you can still rub salt to clean. Repeat procedure as you've done with the oxtail. Let it cool and slice the tripe into strips, 2-3 inches long and 0.5 inch wide. Drain the water and set the tripe aside.
Saute garlic and onions until onions get wilted and translucent. Add annato powder, stir to mix well. Add oxtail and tripe (make sure they are tender). Season with salt and pepper. Stir for about 2 minutes then add beef broth.(3-4 cups). Let it simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the broth has been reduced. Add the pulverized rice (or the kare-kare mix). This will thicken the sauce, so make sure to keep on stirring. Add peanut butter. Mix well, taste and season with salt (or shrimp paste) and pepper.
In a separate pot, pour 2 cups of water. Add a teaspoon of baking powder. Season with salt. Drop the veggies and remove after boiling. Drain excess water. Add blanched vegetables on the cooked kare kare. Serve with cooked or bottled shrimp paste on the side. Enjoy!