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Posted By Connie Veneracion On May 29, 2003 @ 5:45 pm In Cook, Wine and Dine,Main Courses,Meat,Recipes,Vegetables | 73 Comments
A rich stew of ox tail, leg or tripe and a variety of vegetables in a sauce flavored and thickened with roasted ground peanuts (peanut butter is just as good!) and toasted rice flour.
Another way to prepare kare-kare is to cook the vegetables separately in a small amount of water. Place cooked vegetables in the serving bowl  and pour over the meat and the sauce. This will give you better control over the texture of the vegetables to prevent overcooking them.
Traditionally, as in during my grandparents’ time, kare-kare was cooked with freshly ground roasted peanuts and rice. Well, there’s nothing like cooking it that way, but I find the procedure too much for today’s busy lifestyle. The easiest option is, of course, to get one of those ready mixes that are abundant in supermarkets. I’ve tried a couple brands. The problem was I didn’t have much control over the taste of the cooked kare-kare. The mix determined the final thickness, flavor and color of the dish. If you’re as particular as I am, well, you look for another option.
So, one time I bought “peanut butter” from the wet market. This “peanut butter” is coarser than the bottled variety and unsweetened. It is not made for sandwiches but is sold particularly for cooking kare-kare. Well, the grains were pretty obvious in the sauce and I didn’t like that either.
It was so frustrating that I actually stopped cooking kare-kare for more than a year. Until one day when my mother-in-law asked if we wanted a huge jar of peanut butter that she didn’t know what to do with. My husband, who’s a real peanut butter fan, gladly accepted. The jar was so huge (2 k.) that after a few weeks, it was just sitting, forgotten, way inside the refrigerator. Now this was sandwich peanut butter. Sweet and smooth. I debated for a while then decided to use it for kare-kare. Guess what? I finally found the perfect peanut butter for my kare-kare. The slightly sweet flavor of the sauce was reaallllyyy great!
As to the ground roasted rice, well, I don’t particularly feel like grinding rice with a mortar and pestle. I have a supply of rice flour in the pantry (for cooking puto or rice cakes). I toasted half a quarter of a cup in the skillet, mixed it with stock and it did the trick–color, thickness, flavor. I’ve been using this little trick for a long time now.
Finally, about bagoong alamang. What is it? Bagoong alamang is a paste of salted and fermented shrimp fingerlings. I guess it’s an acquired taste. Personally, I find the smell and flavor too strong. And I am allergic to it along with other crustaceans–shrimps, lobsters, crabs, prawns… Plus, it is very high in cholesterol and sodium content. I don’t touch the stuff. Does that mean I can’t enjoy my kare-kare? Wrrrooonnnggg! I season my kare-kare so that no additional salty sauce on the side is necessary. My kids grew up without bagoong alamang, although they enjoy their shrimps, prawns, lobsters and prawns.
Cut cabbage half into 2 and remove core. Cut off roots and 1/2 inch of stalks of pechay and discard. Cut of roots of sitaw and cut into 2″ lengths. Discard tough outer layers of puso ng saging and cut inner layers into 2″ x 2″ pieces. Cut eggplant into 2″ x 2″ cubes.
Place rice flour in a skillet and toast over medium-high heat until golden. Set aside.
In a casserole, heat oil over medium heat. Add annato seeds and “cook” until they render color and the oil is a bright red. With a slotted spoon, remove annato seeds and discard. Increase heat to medium-high and saute onions and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add meat pieces and cook until they absorb the color or the oil. Pour in 4 cups of stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and add vegetables in the following order with a 2-minute interval : sitaw, eggplant, puso ng saging, cabbage and pechay.
Meanwhile, mix peanut butter with 1/2 c. of stock. Mix roasted rice flour with 1/2 c. of stock. Once the pechay has been added, pour in peanut butter and rice flour mixtures into the casserole. Stir to blend well. Season with salt. Cook for about a 2 minutes until sauce is thick.
Serve hot with bagoong alamang.
Cooking time (duration): about 6 and a half hours
Number of servings (yield): 4
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 serving bowl: http://associatesshop.filzhut.de/shop/amazonshop-search-work.php?SearchKeyword=serving+bowl&Mode=kitchen&SearchType=keyword&ID=6fa2111ec14f8df8df97bfc257b41a4f
 pei tsai: http://www.evergreenseeds.com/smalloosleaf.html
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