Saturday, June 1, 2013

Vera Custodio Cooks: Kare-Kare

Vera Custodio, from my upcoming novel, Knowing Vera, cooks a peanut-flavored meat and vegetable stew. Most of the ingredients are found easily, except for the key one, bagoong [fermented salty shrimp paste]. If you're in Silicon Valley, Marina Foods has jarred "Mother's Best Ginisang Bagoong" in three flavors, Classic, Spicy, or Sweet. While you're there, grab a couple cans of Calamansi Juice Drink, and have it with the Kare-Kare.

1-1/2 pound beef cross-cut hind shank (Chamorro de Res Cortado)
1 pound beef tripe, menudo
1 pound boneless pork loin roast
1 pound beef rib-eye steak
1 Tbsp Azafran en Flor (dried Safflower blossoms) soaked in hot water
1 tsp tumeric
1 large onion, chopped
1 Chinese eggplant, sliced
2-3 bunches baby bok choy
1 bundle sitaw, Chinese long beans, cut into 2 inch pieces (about ½ pound)
1 cup ground peanuts [grind roasted peanuts in a food grinder]
½ cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp fish sauce, pata
½ cup shrimp paste, bagoong
1 Tbsp minced garlic
4-6 cups water, just enough to cover the meat
1 Tbsp cooking oil
Salt, pepper to taste

1.      Cut all meat into either strips or cubes, about 1” x 2”
2.      Simmer meat with chopped onion in a large stockpot 3 hours until tender, or 35 minutes in a pressure cooker
3.      After meat is tender, add ground peanuts, fish sauce, turmeric, and colored water. Simmer 5-7 minutes
4.      While doing step 3, heat oil in a wok and brown the garlic. Throw in all vegetables and cook 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixed with small amount of water to thicken.
5.      Transfer cooked vegetables into large stockpot and place on top of the meat mixture.
6.      Garnish with the dried safflower blossoms. Serve with steamed rice and plenty of bagoong on the side [let each diner add to taste]. Enjoy!

(Traditional recipe has a banana flower bud. If not available, either skip, or substitute peeled and shredded green papaya)
(Traditional recipe has ½ cup annatto seeds soaked for coloring. If not available, soak dried safflower blossoms or 1 Tbsp achiote or annatto powder)
(Traditional recipe uses ox-tail, but this cut is hard to find and relatively expensive, so substitute beef shank and steak.)

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