Kare-kareng Kulang-kulang

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The last time I tried cooking kare-kare was decades ago but let’s not start counting please. That was back in HS with the help of my dad and sis. It wasn’t even successful as the beef tripe was tough and chewy my teeth still hurts just thinking about it. Fate never led me to cook it again ever since. This stew in peanut sauce isn’t really one of my favorites and anyhoo, I had my regular dose occasionally. But not anymore. Bagoong alamang (fermented shrimp paste) isn’t something that a pinoy in Beijing can easily get and I have no idea where to find atsuete (annatto seeds). So our cravings for kare-kare get intense each day until I asked A if he’d go as far as touch it even without the condiment. He said yes and I almost dance with joy! I googled recipes online; settled with those from Connie and the Marketman. I was particularly inspired by Connie’s as she doesn’t use bagoong at all. Not that I don’t like the stuff but because I don’t have it and I just can’t wait for the next bottle to reach me from Manila or Hongkong.

So here is my version of kare-kare sans annatto seeds, banana heart and bagoong alamang – our lunch one weekend more than a month ago. I like kare-kare with pork rind that literally melts in your mouth so I used pork hocks instead of beef tripe to go with oxtail. I used mortar and pestle to pound rice and peanuts and yeah I am not good at it. Oh well, I struggled for weeks with the idea of whether to blog it or not. Thought about making it an entry for Lasang Pinoy – Barrio Fiesta but no, I’d think of another one for that event. As you can see in the photos, the color doesn’t seem right but by the way A ate plate after plate with gusto, I take it as really good! Or just another case of “absence makes the heart grows fonder”.

About half a kilo of oxtail
Pork pata (pork hocks, I only used half of the cooked meat)
1 onion, sliced
Minced garlic
1/2 cup of rice flour
1/2 cup of ground peanuts
1/2 cup of peanut butter (our favorite Chinese-made brand)
a bunch of petchay (bokchoi)
Sliced eggplant
A bowl of long beans, cut about 3 inches long
Salt and pepper

Blanch pata for few minutes and discard water. Add the oxtail to the pot, pour enough water to cover both oxtail and pata, and bring to boil. Skim off scum that floats in the broth. Simmer for an hour then add salt and peppercorns. Continue simmering until beef is cooked and the pork pata rind is melt-in-your-mouth tender. Transfer meat pieces to a platter. Run your knife on one side of the pork leg to separate the meat from the bone. Discard the bone and chop pata into big chunks. Refrigerate everything overnight. As the broth chills, the fat will rise to the surface. Scoop them all out the next morning or leave a spoonful for that extra beef flavor.

Reheat the broth in a pot. Make sure you still have about 5-6 cups. In another casserole, toast rice flour until golden brown. Set aside. Toast the ground peanuts for few minutes and set aside.

Heat oil in the same casserole. Fry garlic until fragrant. Add in the onion slices and stir-fry for a minute. Then drop the oxtail pieces and pata chunks and brown for few minutes. Add about 4 cups of the beef broth and bring to boil.

Sometime between stir-frying and adding the broth, you may also boil all vegetables, one at a time, using the remaining beef broth. Cook long beans and petchay until tender-crisp to the bite. Scoop out and set aside.

Pour a cup of beef broth (or water) into a bowl. Mix the toasted rice powder, ground peanuts and peanut butter. Pour the mixture into the casserole and mix well. Bring to boil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another couple of minutes or until the sauce is thick. Pour over the vegetables on a serving platter and serve hot.

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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

8 thoughts on “Kare-kareng Kulang-kulang

  1. looks good enough for me! :) there’s atsuete powder available and, funny, it’s in chinese. says so in the label. weird. or maybe that’s me just guessing it’s chinese.

    haaay… now i miss kare-kare…

  2. looks masarap naman.ok lang yung color pero masakit yung walang bagoong…. time to order from manila plus green mangoes pa. yummy

  3. Thanks! It ‘s quite delicious, really. :-) Though I also would give anything to have alamang!
    Dhey, wish I find that Chinese pack of achuete powder. Almost everything here is in Chinese characters waaahhhh!

  4. Pingback: Anonymous

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