Friday, October 22, 2004

Kare Kare without Mama

...Sita, that is.
The last time, seems a long while ago, it was too thick and rich ("nakakasuya") from the peanut butter. My daughter has been asking me to cook this since so I decided to keep Mama Sita in the larder and cook from scratch,and see if I could replicate lola's dish.
I always thought this was such a unique Filipino entree until my daughter's school PTO churned out a homey recipe book solicited from the families: one teacher submitted "groundnut stew from West Africa," with a few differences: the addition of tomatoes in theirs and our more exotic meats and the toasted rice powder in ours.
My grandmother assigned to me the tedious task of pounding the rice and peanuts with the cracked stone mortar and pestle. I must have "vented" on that mortar, because the rice powder was fine and the peanuts almost creamy.
I don't have to vent anymore, and I use my old coffee grinder and a mini chopper for the peanuts.

Start the day before you plan to serve kare kare.
For the meat: boil in well-seasoned water(salt and peppercorns, bay leaf,shallot or onion), your choice of beef cuts: oxtail, feet, honey comb or book tripe, tendons, short ribs (meaty cuts on the bone are recommended); skim off scummy particles as needed.
Cook until barely tender (they will tenderize more in the peanutty broth).
If using tripe, boil separately in several changes of water (if there is any gamey odor); and then simmer in water, bay leaf, peppercorns, 1 shallot or onion, 1 unpeeled garlic clove, salt and pepper. A thin slice of ginger cuts down this odor too. Slice the tendons and tripe uniformly.

Refrigerate the meat and broth so that the next day you can easily remove the solidified fat and thus cut down the "sebo"--how to translate this?hmm--grease?.
Bring broth up to a simmer and keep nearby.
2 tbsp. achuete (annatto seeds)(in 1 tbsp.warm vegetable oil, add seeds and let steep)

1/2 cup whole unsalted peanuts, ground
1/3 cup sticky rice, toasted and ground
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
Vegetables: (choose 2 or 3) long beans(sitaw), eggplant, snow pea pods, green(Baguio) beans, okra, banana heart; here in the U.S. I have tried zucchini, baby bok choy(pechay), hearts of palm(canned), and my favorite, frozen artichoke hearts.

In a large stewpot,saute the garlic and onions in vegetable oil until onions turn translucent. Add broth from meat and bring up to a boil. Cook vegetables until desired crunch/texture. Scoop out and set aside. Add meat, strained achuete oil, ground peanuts and rice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, to prevent rice and peanuts from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Adjust seasonings. Add more hot broth if needed.
Gently return the vegetables to the pot, bring back up to simmer. Serve with bagoong guisado (sauteed fermented shrimp paste).