I have prepared kare-kare on many and for many occasions. Each and every time, I get applauded for the dish~”the best kare-kare, lalaine, “teach me your recipe, lalaine”. Each and every time, I acknowledge the compliment with a “thank you” and sit through the the gathering with a sly smile plastered on my face. You see, the each and everytime I cooked my kare-kare, Mama Sita was in my kitchen! I’ve been secretly preparing the dish with her shortcut mixes!
This posting is actually my first from-scratch attempt of this somewhat complicated and definitely time-consuming peanut-based stew. Ohh. Not first. Second try. In one day. The first turned out into one big mess and got dumped, the whole potful, into the trash out of frustration! The recipe versions I obtained from googling suggest ground rice as the thickening medium but I probably did not process the grains adequately as the sauce of my stew ended up with miniscule bits of cooked rice. So, for the second batch, I whirled the toasted rice in my food processor until they were powdered. Hmmm! Can you smell success?
Connie Veneracion of Pinoy Cook offers an innovative tip that will shave off this “grinding” step ~use rice flour. From my experience today with ground versus powdered rice, her suggestion is downright in the money! The recipe below is a combination of the bits and ends of different versions I found via Google. My personal tweak to the recipe is utilizing beef tendon as an extender for the amount of meat and as a replacement for tripe, which is a customary addition in kare-kare.
Makes 8 Servings
2 lbs beef oxtail, cut to serving portions
1 lb beef tendon, cut to serving portions
6 to 7 cups of beef broth (from the simmered oxtail)
2 medium-size eggplant, cut into thick 3-in lengths
1 banana heart, quartered
1 bunch pechay, ends removed and leaves separated
1 bunch sitaw (long beans)
1 large onion, sliced
5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup toasted rice
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 smooth peanut butter
2 tbsps annatto seeds
salt to taste
Trim fat from oxtail meat. In separate deep pots, cover oxtail and tendon with water. Simmer meat until tender, maintaining about 6 to 7 cups of water. This will be around 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, heat a thick-bottomed skillet until very hot. Add in rice and continuously toss grains in the pan until golden-brown. Pound toasted rice into powder form with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Ground peanuts using mortar and pestle or pulse in food processor.
Soak annatto seeds in around 1 to 1 1/2 cup water until seeds bleed and color of soaking water turns bright red. Strain to remove seeds and set aside colored water.
Wash and prepare eggplant, pechay and long beans. Peel and discard the outer and darker layers of the banana heart. Trim off the “baby” bananas attached. Trim end and slice remaining whole heart into portions.
When oxtails and tendon are tender, drain and set aside broth from oxtail. Discard broth from tendon.
In a pot, heat vegetable oil. Saute onions and garlic until aromatic. Add in oxtails and tendon. Saute meat for 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour in the reserved oxtail broth, setting aside around 1 cup to combine with peanut butter. Pour in reserved annatto juice. Bring stew to a friendly boil.
Add in banana heart, sitaw, egg plant and pechay, in this order and with 1 to 2-minute intervals.
Stir in powdered rice and ground peanuts. In a bowl, combine and blend peanut butter with the remaining 1 cup broth until pourable. Stir into stew. Combine well and stir until sauce thickens to desired consistency.
Season with salt to taste. Serve very hot with a side of shrimp paste.