Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Hello Everyone! Yes, I am here again with another recipe for you guys this week! The dish that I will be sharing tonight is a build up on the Mushroom ‘Bagoong’ recipe that I shared yesterday, which I will further explain in tonight’s post.

The word kare actually means curry, so therefore kare-kare is a thick and creamy curry, or stew that is rich in peanut flavour, cooked with your protein of choice and various vegetables. The stew gets its rich flavour from my homemade vegetable broth, ground roasted peanuts and peanut butter, together with sautéed onions, and garlic. It is coloured with annatto and can be thickened with toasted or plain ground rice. It is said that kare-kare has a similar flavour to satay because of the peanuts in the sauce.

The main protein used in a traditional kare-kare is beef, oxtail being the preferred choice of cut and often paired with either beef tripe, beef hock, or beef meat. Various cuts of pork can also be used such as, but not limited to, pork belly, hocks, and/or trotters.

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Kare-kare can also be made exclusively from vegetables, known as Kare-kareng Gulay, that may include, but not limited to, eggplant, Chinese chard (pechay/bok choy), yardlong beans, banana heart/blossoms, okra, daikon, other other various greens. Now while this already is a vegetarian/vegan version of the traditional kare-kare, the condiment on the side, usually shrimp bagoong, strips it of its vegetarian or vegan title. While you can leave the bagoong to the side, kare-kare is just not the same without it. Hence, in yesterday’s post, I made a vegan alternative to bagoong to complete this dish.

I think the last meat-based kare-kare that I had before I stopped eating meat was crispy pork belly kare-kare, and to mimic that, I added crispy fried tofu to my kare-kareng gulay of fried eggplant, blanched yardlong beans and Chinese chard, and boiled banana heart. I first came across Crispy Tofu Kare-kare from various posts I had seen on Instagram last year. Since then I’ve been looking for a reason to make the dish for a blog post and finally I can do so as it fits with the theme for the month!

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the kare-kare

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (plus additional, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 tbsp creamy smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt, to taste

For the annatto mixture

  • 1 & 1/2 tsp annatto seeds
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Banana heart, boiled
  • Chinese chard (pechay), blanched
  • Eggplant, fried
  • Firm tofu, fried
  • Yardlong beans, blanched
  • Mushroom ‘bagoong’
  • Roasted peanuts, crushed

METHOD

  1. Annatto Mixture: Combine the annatto seeds and hot water in a cup. Leave to soak for the seeds to release their colour.
  2. Kare-Kare: Add oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat. Once hot, sauté the garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the crushed peanuts. Continue to cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the peanut butter and mix well until melted before adding 1 cup on the vegetable broth. Mix and season with a pinch of salt, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
  4. Take about a third cup of extra vegetable broth and add the white rice flour to it. Mix until the flour is incorporated into the broth.
  5. Stir the rice flour mixture into the peanut butter stew. Leave to cook until the sauce thickens, a further 10 minutes and mix every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Strain the annatto seeds from the water and add the annatto liquid into the stew. Mix well to incorporate its colour, and if needed, add more vegetable broth to thin out the stew. You may also need to adjust the seasoning to your liking.

At this point, you may choose to add your prepared tofu and vegetables to the stew or separate them for plating up.

  1. Serve and enjoy with steamed rice and mushroom ‘bagoong’ to complete this vegan dish!

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

BR Nina's Itikan & Restaurant - SPECIALITIES: Kalderitik

BR Nina’s Itikan & Restaurant

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Today’s post is on a restaurant that can be found along the Sta. Clara Bypass Road in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. My cousin first introduced me to this place when we were visiting the Philippines last month. I told her that I wanted to dine at local eateries that are natively special to Bulacan and this is where she took my family and I. If I am not mistaken, itik is quite popular in Bulacan as there are also many balut hatcheries in the area. For those of you who do not know what a balut is, it is basically a developing duck embryo (fertilised duck egg) that is boiled and eaten in the shell.

Anyway, I could not appreciate the atmosphere at the time that we went with my cousin for it was during dinner and although the place was well lit, it felt dark to me. So my mother, my two sisters, and myself decided to come back to this place for lunch and the ambience had a bigger impact on me than it did the first night we dined at BR Nina’s Itikan. I think the fact that we were the only table there as well made a difference for it was less noisy (I mean, excluding the traffic along the bypass) and we had the whole place to ourselves. The place is an outdoor restaurant with a main dining area upon entering, and a few bahay kubos at the back where you could also dine. A bahay cubo is known as the national shelter, native house of the Philippines and is made from using indigenous building materials like bamboo and nipa. Its name is said to have originated from the Spanish word, cubo, which means “cube” because of the bahay kubo‘s rectangular/cubic shape. Nowadays you’ll see many eateries adapting the bahay kubo into small, private eating huts, big enough to seat between 4-8 people.

BR Nina's Itikan & Restaurant - BR NINA’S FIESTA: Crispy Kare-Kare Liempo
BR NINA’S FIESTA: Crispy Kare-Kare Liempo (₱250.00)

When I first had dinner at this place, I was very much intrigued by the ‘crispy’ part of the name of this dish, only because I’ve never had kare-kare before with crispy meat. The sauce, even though for me it felt like it was straying away from a traditional kare-kare, was nice and flavourful. The sauce tasted like it had coconut milk in it and didn’t taste so much like the peanut buttery goodness that I love; it was still creamy though. The vegetables were cooked to perfection, as in it wasn’t overcooked, and though some of the cuts of pork meat was cooked well, some were a bit hard and overdone.

BR Nina's Itikan & Restaurant - SPECIALITIES: Fried Itik
SPECIALITIES: Fried Itik (₱160.00)

The first time we came here we had the fried itik as recommended by my cousin. For me it was just okay, nothing much special to it other than the fact that it’s an itik and that it definitely tastes different than any normal fried chicken. The meat was quite dry and because there was no sauce to go with it either, besides the very basic condiment of soy sauce and calamansi, the overall dish was very dry. If we didn’t have the bulalo soup to pair with it, it would’ve been a very dry meal.

BR Nina's Itikan & Restaurant - SPECIALITIES: Kalderitik
SPECIALITIES: Kalderitik (₱170.00)

Since itik is their speciality here in this restaurant, we decided to order at least more than just one on their specials menu and experience itik cooked in many different ways. The itik was really tender and flavourful. It was so tender that it was fall-off-the-bone perfection. It also had a little bit of spice to it as well. This dish is one that I very much like from their specials, even though it doesn’t look very well presented – but this is pretty much home-style cooking.

BR Nina's Itikan & Restaurant - SPECIALITIES: Adobong Itik
SPECIALITIES: Adobong Itik (₱170.00)

Though it doesn’t look as appetising (let’s face it, pretty much everything you’ll see here doesn’t look appetising), it tastes better than it looks. However, compared to the kalderitik, this dish was quite dry. The sauce came as a side with the dish, but because the itik was deep fried, it was quite dry. Also, I felt that there was a little bit too much garlic on the dish. It did have that adobo flavour to the itik though!

BR Nina's Itikan & Restaurant - SPECIALITIES: Sisig Itik
SPECIALITIES: Sisig Itik (₱170.00)

Sisig is a Filipino dish traditionally made from parts of a pig’s head and liver, seasoned with calamansi and chilli peppers. I love me a good sisig dish. I never fail to have a flavourful sizzling plate of sisig whenever I visit the Philippines. I was drawn to this dish only because I’ve never had itik sisig before, I’ve always and only have ever had pork sisig. This sisg dish is by far my favourite of all sisigs I’ve ever had in the past. The flavour was on point and the addition of fresh chillies on top added that extra kick of heat that the dish, in my opinion, needed.

BR Nina's Itikan & Restaurant - FRIED: Crispy Tawilis with Salted Egg
FRIED: Crispy Tawilis with Salted Egg (₱150.00)

Sardinella tawilis, or known by Filipinos as just tawilis for short, is a small freshwater sardine, reaching up to 15cm and weighing less than 30g. On its own, it doesn’t actually have much flavour to it. But all your really need is the salted egg and tomatoes on the side to go with it and you have a match made it heaven. Even with just a little bit of achara to go with the crispy fried tawilis and you’re pretty much hooked on it. You can eat the fish whole as well, yes, including its head, tail, and bones!


SOUPS: Bulalo (₱220.00)

Besides their specialities, this bulalo soup is by far the tastiest of all bulalo soups I’ve had in the past. The broth is harboured all the flavours from the meat, and what’s good about it also is that the broth doesn’t have a lot of oil in it and isn’t very fatty at all. The meat was very tender and the vegetables still had a bit of crunch to them. It was definitely much better in terms of flavour than the bulalo soup that I cooked myself.

BR Nina’s Itikan have quite a lot to offer on their menu beside their specialities of various itik dishes; many also praise their crispy kare-kares from Facebook comments and reviews that I’ve have seen. Overall, I thought that the food that we’ve had at this place were generally quite good. I haven’t had any major issues with any of the dishes only that the fried itik and the adobong itik itself are quite dry, but other than that, everything else were pretty much on point for me. I love love love their duck sisig, and for that I’d say that their food is a sure 7 out of 10 for me. Ambience 8 out of 10 and service is variable between 7 to 9 out of 10. I say this because there are only two waiters running the floor and serving probably a total of 10 tables. So when the place is packed, it’s quite hard to flag down a waiter when you’re ready to order or wanting to request for more water or tissue for your table – that’s the downside. Otherwise, they’re friendly and always quick on their feet. You’ll see then running around trying to get to every table and fulfilling every customer’s requests. It’s also relatively cheap so therefore a good value for money, where their specialities of itik only costs about AUD$5.00 – a whole duck for just $5.00? Quite impossible ain’t it? That is, if it were sold in Australia.

BR Nina’s Itikan & Restaurant
Bypass Road Sta. Clara
Sta. Maria, Bulacan
Philippines, 3022

– Ally xx

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Hello Everyone! So I was just browsing through all the posts I’ve uploaded since I got into a regular uploading schedule and I realised that I actually haven’t posted a savoury dish in a while. I’ve been posting about cakes, cookies, and muffins these past few months! The last savoury dish that I blogged about was back in October with The Ultimate Brekkie (for those who have not seen it, click on it and prepare to drool, seriously).

Today’s recipe is a little different, or may be different to some of my readers/viewers. It is one of my most favourite dishes of all time, and only because my mom used to make it on a regular-enough basis to always have this orgasmic sensation with every bite. It may not suit the taste buds for many I feel, but seriously, every person I’ve made this for, well okay 3 people, loved it so much that they’ve even gone and tried to make it for themselves!

There are a few things to cover in this recipe that many may not know about, so I’ll start of with what even is Kare-Kare. Pronounced kah-reh kah-reh, it is a traditional Philippine stew flavoured with ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter, onions, and garlic; creamy, rich, and thick. Traditionally, a palayok (clay cooking pot) is used to cook this dish and it is also used as the serving pot. Typical meats that make the base for this stew include oxtail (sometimes this is the only meat used), pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef stew meat; and occasionally offal, or tripe, rarely goat or chicken. Besides the meat, vegetables are also cooked with the stew and these include a range of (but are not limited to): eggplant, Chinese cabbage (or other leafy greens), long beans, okra (lady fingers), daikon, etc. – usually equaling or exceeding the amount of meat in the dish. The overall dish is then coloured (and flavoured) with annatto seeds, which is extracted by add the seeds in oil or water. Since I didn’t have some in handy, I just left them out – I feel like it didn’t have a significant effect to the overall flavour of the dish.

This dish is often served and eaten with shrimp paste known in a Philippines as bagoong (pronounced ba-go-ong). Sometimes it is spiced with chilli, or sautéed with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and sprinkled with calamansi (small round lime) juice. Bagoong paste varies in appearance, flavour, and spiciness depending on the type. Pink and salty bagoong is marketed as “fresh”, and is essentially the shrimp-salt mixture left to marinate for a few days. I sautéed a whole jar of shrimp paste and only used about a generous tablespoon of it on the side for this dish. The rest I put back into the jar and into the freezer until for later use. There are many other dishes that you can make with the sautéed shrimp paste and it may pop up in my blog a few more times!

I cooked up this dish for our supposed International (Asian) Feast Night that we had been planning for a while. I say “supposed” because instead of having food from 5 different Asian Cuisines, we ended up only having 3 and it turned out to also be Lydia’s farewell dinner. Basically Lydia cooked a dish from China, Vidhya from India, and me from the Philippines. Jialing (who did not show up by the way because she had a staff dinner) was supposed to make a dish from Malaysia, and Marissa, who already went on holiday, was supposed to make a Vietnamese dish. I was seriously so tired that night, I mean first of all, I had just come back from my Outback trip and only felt the tiredness after returning back. Secondly, I worked from 9am-5pm that day, and when I got home, I straightaway went into the kitchen to cook. I was SO tired that I actually seriously fell asleep at the table after dinner, during dessert. Talk about an induced food coma!

So for this night, which by the way happened about 3 days after I got back from the Red Centre, I decided to make my famous Oxtail Kare-kare. I also made a chicken version for Vidhya because the only meat she eats is chicken (and fish). I’ve never actually tried the dish with chicken before; it turned out okay but in my honest opinion, it wasn’t as flavourful as the Oxtail. I have made this dish in the past as well where I used pork hock/leg, pork shoulder, beef shank or gravy beef, and my mom made it a few times with beef tripe – all these cuts of meat work perfectly well with the dish. Some butchers sell oxtail either whole or cut. If your local butcher happens to seek them whole, just kindly ask them to cut it into rounds for you, that’s what I did. I remember as a little kid that I would always love the bigger cuts because they had more meat in them… Until someone ruined it for me saying that “the bigger the cut, the closer it is to its bum!”

Oxtail Kare-Kare Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 45 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

For the stew

  • 1kg oxtail, cut into rounds
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (a very generous tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Ground salt and pepper
  • Buk Choy, separated
  • Eggplant, sliced diagonally
  • Long beans, cut into 1-inch long strings
  • Okra (lady fingers), whole and then sliced later once cooked

For the sautéed shrimp paste

  • 345g bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar

METHOD

  1.  Add the oxtail, bay leaves, rock salt and whole peppercorns to a large pot with about a litre of water, or enough to submerge the meat. Boil for about 1 to 1 and a half hours until tender. If you are using a pressure cooker (which I don’t have), 30-35 minutes should do the trick! Once the meat is tender, remove from the heat and set aside. Do not throw away the stock.
  2. While your meat is tenderising, move onto sautéing the shrimp paste. Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan and sauté garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the tomatoes in and sauté until they have softened. Add the shrimp paste in and give it a good mix. Add in the sugar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside. You may need to heat it up again before serving.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat in another pot and sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the the oxtails, season with ground salt and pepper, and give it a good stir. Add the peanut butter to two cups of the stock and stir until the peanut butter has softened. Add the peanut butter mix to the oxtail and bring the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes. If you want your stew to be less creamy and thick, add more stock to your liking.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and cook your vegetables for no longer than 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the cooked vegetables to your oxtail stew just before serving. Serve hot with sautéed shrimp paste and enjoy!

Oxtail Kare-Kare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com