Saturday, August 22, 2015

Kare Kare (Philippine Oxtail Stew)

     Kare Kare!
     After the first taste it is difficult to stop eating this savory stew!  Kare Kare is a traditional Filipino slow cooked entrée.  This recipe stews for about two hours.  The ingredients might seem to be exotic, but the end result is a mellow comfortable flavor.  This slow cooked stew is worth the wait!
     Oxtails in American grocery stores are really just cattle tails.  Oxtail is full of cartilaginous nutrients that break down when stewed.  These nutrients are beneficial for stronger tendons, heart valves and cartilage growth.  Stewed oxtails create a rich tasting gelatinous broth.
     Peanut butter is used to thicken stews worldwide.  It adds protein and a savory flavor that goes well with oxtail.  African cuisine requires peanut butter in many stews, just like South Pacific cuisine.
     Eggplant also adds thickness and flavor to a stew.  Stews from Africa, the Middle East, India and the South Pacific often have eggplant in the recipe.
     The ingredients of Kare Kare produce a natural craving effect.  Green beans, bok choy, eggplant and oxtail have some kind of a flavor profile that causes the tummy to beg for more.  After eating a bowl of Kare Kare, one would think that the tummy would be full, but it actually starts growling for more!  That is a good sign that nutrients in this stew are easily available for uptake in the digestive system.
     Kare Kare:
     This recipe yields one hearty portion of stew!  
     The 2 hour slow cooking method is simple, like most island style recipes.  The timing of when to add the ingredients must be done in stages, so items like the green beans and eggplant do not cook till they become so soft that they disintegrate.
     The oxtail should not be saut éed or browned for this recipe.
     Step 1:  Select 8 to 12 ounces of thick oxtail pieces.  (Small oxtail pieces are best for this recipe.)
     *Oxtail is about 50% meat and 50% cartilage.  It is always a judgment call when portioning oxtail.  Smaller oxtail pieces that are 1" to 2" in diameter are best for a stew like Kare Kare.
     Step 2:  Place the oxtail pieces in a sauce pot.
     Add enough water to barely cover the oxtails.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of beef broth.
     Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Add 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped onion.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Stew the oxtails for 30 minutes.
     *The excess liquid will reduce to the level of the oxtails as the stew simmers.  Only add enough water as necessary keep the oxtails barely covered with liquid.
     Step 4:  Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Simmer the stew for 30 more minutes.
     Step 5:  After the first hour of stewing, stop adding water to keep the oxtails covered.  Allow the broth to simmer and reduce in volume.
     Skim the oil and grease from the top of the broth as it reduces.
     Simmer the broth, till the broth reduces by 1/3.
     Step 6:  Add 1 small Chinese eggplant that is cut into large pieces.  (A 6 to 8 ounce Chinese eggplant is plenty.)
     Add 1 cup of green beans that are cut into 1" pieces.
     Add 1 cup of 1" wide bok choy pieces.
     Simmer the vegetables till they are cooked tender,
     Step 7:  Add just enough organic peanut butter to thicken the broth while stirring.  (About 3 or 4 tablespoons will create a medium thick consistency.)
     Step 8:  Simmer for five more minutes.
     Keep the stew warm over very low heat.

     Ladle the Kare Kare into a large bowl.
     Sprinkle some thin sliced green onion on top of the Kare Kare.
     Serve with steamed white rice on the side.
     Kare Kare is incredibly good tasting!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Thai Green Curry Pork Belly

     Tasty Thai Food!
     There are a few traditional versions of Thai style Green Curry can be very pale in color and the sauce can look like a thin coconut milk broth.  There is usually only a small amount of Thai Green Curry Paste in the pale color version.  Spicier Thai Green Curry versions contain a higher proportion of curry paste and they have a much bolder flavor.
     Thai Green Eggplant is the body of Thai Green Curry Paste or Thai Green Curry Sauce.  Thai Green Eggplant looks kind of like a green plum.
     Thai Green Eggplant, green chile pepper and green spices are simmered till there is no excess moisture, then the ingredients are mashed to a dense paste consistency.  Thai Green Curry Paste can be made with fresh ingredients, but a manufactured Thai Green Curry Paste product is much more cost effective.
     Not all Thai Green Curry Paste products contain Thai Green Eggplant.  The volume of the container is an indicator.  It seems like the pint size containers of Thai Green Curry Paste are the ones that have Thai Green Eggplant in the list of ingredients.  The small 4 ounce size containers of Thai Green Curry paste seem to only have the essential spice mix and artificial color.

     Thai Green Curry Pork Belly:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of coconut milk.
     Simmer and reduce till the coconut milk turns into coconut oil.
     Step 2:  Add 6 ounces of pork belly that is cut into 3/4" cube shaped pieces.  (Cut the skin off of the pork belly, if it is attached.)
     Add 4 whole cloves of garlic.
     Gently sauté the pork belly, till it is cooked halfway.
     Step 3:  Add 1/5 cup of julienne sliced onion.
     Add 1/2 of a seeded green jalapeño that is cut into thin strips.
     Add a few red bell pepper strips for color.
     Briefly sauté till the vegetables start to cook.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of water.
     Add 1/4 of ground dried galangal.
     Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste.  (2 tablespoons = spicy hot!)
     Stir the paste into the liquid.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce starts to become thick.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of coconut milk.
     Add 2 thin sliced large Thai Basil Leaves.
     Add 1 thin sliced Kafir Lime leaf.  (If no Kafir Lime leaf is available, then add 1/2 teaspoon of lime zest.)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     *Taste the sauce before adding salt!  Some Thai Green Curry Pastes already have salt in the ingredients.
     Add 8 to 10 trimmed snow peas.  (optional)
     Step 6:  Gently simmer till the sauce reduces to a thin soup consistency.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the Thai Green Curry Pork Belly in a shallow 6" wide casserole dish.
     Place the casserole dish on a doily lined serving plate.
     Garnish with thin sliced lime curls.
     Serve with steamed sticky rice on the side.

     Spicy Thai green curry!