Kare-kare classic, seafood

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011


DEAR readers, friends and fellow cooking lovers. This recipe was requested by my favorite person who unfortunately doesn't want his name nor his picture in the newspaper. He wants to know how to cook KARE-KARE, both the original classic beef and the new style sea food.

Did you know that this dish originated from the days of the Spanish times when the more tender parts of the cow was for the landowners and the important visitors of the hacienderos and the of course friars? Then the uneatable parts, the tail, the feet, and the tripe and the other menudencias were left to the peasants? So with the usual Pinoy ingenuity, the Pinoy invented the kare kare, the bopis, the pinapaitan and other dishes using these lesser (in the sense of its being so tough) parts of the cow. So now, we have all these wonderful, delicious, mouth-watering, and fit for a fiesta dishes.

Regional favorites are many and varied. The islands are so many and so diverse that there are so many regional favorites, laing, pakbet, bopis, dinakdakan, and the many fish dishes. But one dish transcends all boundaries and is a national favorite, regardless of where you are in the islands, that is the kare-kare.

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Again, using Pinoy wisdom, instead of the more expensive flour to thicken the sauce, they used rice flour and flavored the entire sauce with ground peanuts. Nowadays, cooks use peanut butter, which also imparts a manamis-namis taste. At that time, too, the veggies used were the local veggies -- string beans and eggplant. The more valuable and expensive banana heart was a later innovation. These days, still another innovation is the sea food version. Having understood the origin and history of the Kare-kare, we go on to the recipes.

Since the sauce is common to both the sea foods and the oxtail version, I would like to start with the sauce. After the sauce, we proceed to the main ingredients.

For the sauce you will need:

1. Peanut butter or peanuts to be pound or processed in a food processor.

2. Wheat or rice flour

3. Patis

4. Liquid seasoning

5. Minced garlic and chopped onions

6. Soup stock

7. Cooking oil 2 or 3 tablespoons

8. Annato (achuete)

Amounts aren't given, because I do believe that cooking is a matter of taste, family and budget.

The sauce of the either sea foods or the beef kare-kare is the same, so the recipe is common to both.

For the beef:

1. Oxtail, tripe, and or lean meat or a combination of the three, all cleaned and cut to serving pieces. All to make a total of 2 kilos, more if you so desire.

For the sea foods using a proportion of the sea foods which you enjoy. The amount depends on you.

1. Fish

2. Squid

3. Talangka and or crabs

4. Shrimps

5. Mussels

6. Clams

The veggies.

1. Banana heart

2. Eggplant

3. String beans

4. Pechay

The inimitable bagoong aramang

1. 1 cup or more aramang

2. 3 tablespoons of finely minced garlic

3. Same amount of onions, minced

4. Chicharon fat of chicken or pork

5. Vinegar and sugar to taste.

6. Cooking oil for frying garlic and onions

The procedure:

Before all, start tenderizing your meats. Simmer and boil on a slow fire until utterly tender and melt in your mouth. Use an adequate amount of water, enough to cover the meats and some. Remember, you are going to use that for the sauce and to boil veggies.

Now, if you are going to do sea foods, do the same. Use adequate water and gently simmer all sea foods.

Let's begin with the sauce. This is really simple. Brown the garlic and the onions in the cooking oil. When the garlic is browned, add the onions. Pour in the soup stock. From the beef if it is beef you are making, and sea foods if it is sea foods you are making. Use as much of the stock as you want, more if you think your family will like plenty of sauce and less if you like.

When the soup is boiling, thicken with the peanuts, ground if you are not using peanut butter. Then add the rice flour, (which you can buy in the market already ground), and then season with the liquid seasoning and patis. Put in some achuete to color your sauce. Look at what you have cooked, does it please you? If it does, taste it and adjust to your taste.

The sauce is done. The meats are tender and the fishes are cooked. Remove some soup from the meats or fish and put the soup in a pot for the veggies. When the soup boils, put in the veggies and segregate them. Dont mix mix them, separate them so that they look neat and appetizing. When the veggies are done, get a big silyasi, pour in the meat, the cooked veggies and the sauce. Gently stir the whole dish, gently so it wont look like mush. Adjust seasonings, add peanut butter, flour, patis, or whatever is lacking and allow to simmer for a few minutes. You must remember that the seasoning of kare kare is what is called in tagalog, matabang, because it is served with bagoong.

The bagoong. This is quite simply done. Saute and toast the garlic in the oil. Add the onions. Add the aramang. Then simmer until dry if you like your bagoong dry and dont dry if you like your bagoong wet. Season with vinegar and sugar to your own taste. If it makes you happy then so it is. When it is done, add the pork or chicken cracklings. Stir the bagoong. It is ready to serve.

There is your kare-kare.

For dessert, I really believe a good plain fruit is called for, anything richer would be too much for just one meal.

BON APPETIT.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 01, 2011.

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