Maligayang Pasko! (AKA, Tagalog for Merry Christmas!)
OOOOOOH baby! Christmas has come early with this recipe!!
FILIPINO KARE KARE!
As you may have learned from my last post on Monday, I am dating the most wonderful Filipino man! I have been having so much fun learning about Filipino culture, most deliciously….the food!!
I tried my hand at Filipino Sinigang back over the summer, and it was a real treat! Holy cow, was it ever tasty! (It was a sour/savory soup made from tamarind…a tree pod with super sour, sticky flesh that melts into a stew-all-day soup! So that was an exciting culinary adventure.
But this one absolutely takes the cake…quite literally! (I made it for him for his birthday earlier in December.)
What is Kare Kare? Well — it is a peanut stew that is traditionally made with Oxtail meat, or other types of protein!
I went to three different stores looking for oxtail, but alas, it is not a big seller in the West Village, so I had to go with beef shanks, but it was just as delicious.
And I made a shrimp version for myself that was also Specific Carbohydrate Diet friendly.
Now, you may be scratching your head…peanut stew. And yes – we’re talking peanut butter. Lots of it. And it makes it so dang creamy, luxurious, and delicious. And paired with the fall-off-the-bone meat…my, oh, my. Something you’ve just got to taste to believe! A “special occasion” meal for sure!
And my seafood version was outrageous too! Since peanuts are not SCD legal, I used almond butter, and goodness gracious, I think I literally licked the bowl. Talk about yummy!
So, believe it or not, this meal is actually gluten free!!
And when you use my substitutions, it’s Specific Carb Diet friendly, too!
Here’s What You Need: (Serves 4)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
3 lbs oxtail, or beef shanks
1 piece of small banana flower bud (I could not find this, so I omitted it)
4 baby bok choy, sliced
2 handfuls of string beans, (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped
2 Japanese eggplant (the small ones), chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 cup ground peanuts
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 liter of water
1/2 cup annatto seeds soaked in a cup of water — or red chili oil (I could not find annatto seeds)
1/2 cup toasted rice, ground
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shrimp paste
Shrimp/SCD version Substitutions: (Serves 2)
Sub: 1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail off (for the beef)
Sub: 1 cup ground almonds (for the peanuts)
Sub: 1/2 cup smooth almond butter (for the peanut butter)
Omit: toasted rice
Omit: Shrimp paste
Large stock pot
Good Chef’s Knife
Measuring cups and spoons
In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, add the oil, and sear the hunks on meat until each side has a nice, brown crust. Sear in batches so as not to crowd the pan.
Put on a plate and set aside.
Then, add your onion and garlic to the pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes, and then add back in the meat and the water. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and braise for 2.5-3 hours until the meat is super tender and falls off the bone.
Meanwhile, toast the rice in a dry pan until it is golden brown. Let cool, and then transfer to a food processor, and let it run for a few minutes, until the rice has pulverized to a fine power.
Transfer the rice powder to a bowl, and then add the peanuts to the food processor and grind into the consistency of sand. (Just be careful not to let it turn into peanut butter!)
Also, on a separate pan, saute 2 cloves of garlic in 2 Tbsp EVOO, and then add the eggplant bok choy, and string beans and cook for 5-9 minutes.
Once the meat is tender, add the ground peanuts, peanut butter and chili oil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then, add the toasted rice powder, and simmer for five more minutes.
Then, transfer the cooked vegetable to the large pot (where the rest of the ingredients are), nad add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over rice with shrimp paste.
((For the shrimp substitutions, use shrimp in place of the meat, but you don’t need to braise it for 2-3 hours! Once it is cooked, you can move right onto adding in the vegetables and almond powder.
Also. -quick note on the shrimp paste…IT IS A NOSE-FULL! My boyfriend opened it and stuck it under my nose, and it nearly knocked me off my feet! It is *pungent!* But apparently, it is what makes the dish. So – don’t be put off by the smell – and just go for the glory!
OK. Let’s talk about this stew. Because it was AMAZING. The nutty richness from the peanut or almond butter, paired with the deeply savory flavors of the garlicky, oniony meat. It is divine!
I think the reason it is so delicious is the high (*trigger warning*) fat content! The nut butter, the ground nuts, the fatty cuts of meat – they all come together and form this beautiful synergy of flavors, that is perfectly cut by the tangy shrimp paste!
And the rice is the PERFECT “go-with” because it just sops up all those flavors and becomes nice and saturated in the peanutty goodness.
One thing about the Filipino culture that I love is how communal it is. Family is everything. Loved ones and friends are everything. And any excuse to come together and eat delicious food: they’ll find it! And this meal is a staple at those gatherings: because it is such a crowd pleaser, and will leave everyone full and happy!
And if you’re apprehensive about the peanut butter/meat combo: just remember: Elvis was famous for his Peanut butter/BACON/banana sandwich. So if it’s good enough for “the king,” it’s good enough for me!
Definitely the most out of the box meal I’ve ever cooked, but I can’t wait to cook it again!
In fact, I might make it for my family over the holidays! It was that delicious! (Plus, I miss my man, and it will remind me of him! 🙂 )
So anyway — have a wonderful night! And a Merry Christmas!
I’ll talk to you tomorrow for a brief Christmas Eve post!!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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