Kare-kare

A rich stew of ox tail, face, leg, tripe or all of them together, 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 the stock in which the meat has cooked. The cooked vegetables are arranged in the serving bowl with the meat and the peanut sauce is poured in. This is my preferred method because I have 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 especially because I season my kare-kare sufficiently. Kare-kare is usually under-seasoned because it is traditionally served with bagoong (shrimp paste) and the necessary saltiness comes from the bagoong. But I am allergic to it along with other crustaceans — shrimps, lobsters, crabs, prawns… So, I don’t touch the stuff. That’s why I always season my kare-kare well. And that’s why sweetened peanut butter is so perfect.

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. 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 nowContinue reading »

Lobster balls and long beans stir fry

lobstaer-balls-long-beans-stirfry

Sam likes buying those frozen seafood balls in the grocery -- fish balls, squid balls, shrimp balls, prawn balls, crab balls, lobster balls... I always ask her to choose fish balls over the others because I am allergic to crustaceans. Last time, she wanted lobster balls and she couldn't be persuaded to choose something … »

Adobong sitaw sa gata (yard-long beans adobo with coconut cream)

adobo-sitaw-gata

There are at least three adobong sitaw recipes in this blog -- classic, spicy and herb-y, and low-fat -- but, today, I came up with yet another great variation for this Filipino favorite. By adding thick coconut cream a few minutes before cooking time is up, the dish acquires a subtly sweet taste and turns incredibly … »

Pork, mushrooms and green beans adobo

pork-mushrooms-green-beans-adobo2

How many ways can one cook adobo? Ooohh... let me count the ways... Okay, I give up. Countless ways. With chicken and hard-boiled eggs, as stuffing for burrito, corned beef style, with liver sauce, with lemongrass, with eggs only -- exotic or eye candy, with green beans, with white button mushrooms, with frog legs and quail … »

Sinigang na baboy (pork and vegetables in tamarind broth)

pork-sinigang-11

"Pork and vegetables in tamarind broth" is not the literal translation of sinigang na baboy. Rather, it is a description of the classic Filipino sour soup with pork and a medley of vegetables. Although tamarind is the most popular, and common, ingredient for flavoring sinigang, other fruits like kamias may be used. When … »

Stir fried chicken, almonds and skiitake mushrooms

chicken-shiitake-mushrooms

Inspired by a recipe called Marc's cashew chicken, I made a stir fry using very Asian seasonings and ingredients. Well, except for the almonds. I would have used cashew or pili nuts but I had none in the pantry so I used the only nuts I had -- slivered almonds that I had intended to use to bake cookies. I'll just have to … »

Spicy, herb – y adobong sitaw

adobong-sitaw

The classic adobong sitaw gets more than a superficial facelift with the addition of chili garlic sauce (yes, yes, I am quite addicted to the stuff), egg strips, cilantro and toasted onion bits. Onion bits? Yes, onion bits. Garlic bits are too predictable already. Besides, there's enough garlic in the adobo. Onion bits add … »

Adobong pata ng baboy (pork hock) at sitaw (string beans)

adobo-sitaw

There are two versions of adobong sitaw in my archives, one using liempo (pork belly) and, the other, using ground pork and topped with hard-boiled eggs. I was wondering if pork pata meat could further improve an already excellent dish. And I also wondered how far one pata could go. See, we're having some woodwork done in … »

Adobong sitaw 2

adobong-sitaw

I have an older recipe for adobong sitaw where I used small cubes of pork belly. This time, I used ground lean pork.Is there much difference? Well, adobo is basically a fatty dish. It just doesn't taste right unless there is some fat in the meat and the sauce (I have a little trick for solving that problem). So, using … »

Pinakbet without bagoong

pinakbet-tuyo

The title of the entry sounds sacrilegious, I know. Pinakbet without bagoong. Well, tough. I am allergic to bagoong (shrimp paste) and even its fish version. In fact, there are certains brands of patis (fish sauce) that do not agree with me as well. Ironically, I love the Ilocano classic dish called pinakbet--not for the … »