Filipino cuisine. Have you ever tried it? It’s about time for it to come under the spotlight. Here you will learn how to make Oxtail stewed in peanut sauce.
In a historical sense Filipino cuisine reminds me of South Africa. The latter’s food is heavily influenced by the Dutch who invaded the country, followed by the British. During the colonial period the French, Greek and Italians came. Cape Malay cooking hails from the Indo-Asian slaves that were brought along from Bengal, Java and Malaysia. South Africa also has a large Indian community and of course, there are the indigenous people with their own way of cooking as well.
Philippines’ history stretches back much further though. Thousands of years ago the Chinese and Taiwanese moved into the area known as the Philippines, which is where its ample use of soy, tofu, bean sprout and fish sauce comes from. The Philippines has an ideal climate for rice, hence the plethora of rice and noodle dishes. Trade took place with Malaya and Java, which introduced new food and cooking methods. Spices were imported from India and Arabia too. In the 16th century the Spanish, with some Mexican influence, came along with their tomatoes, chilli peppers, corn and potatoes which added a completely new element to this already eclectic cuisine.
At the risk of being chased with pitchforks by fellow South Africans I daresay Filipino cuisine is much more interesting than food from my home country!
Proper cookbooks on the subject is few and far between, but here’s a list.
Enjoy Filipino Food at Home
When I heard there’s a Filipino restaurant opening in London, called Romulo Cafe, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the culture and food.
Director Rowena Romulo and head chef Lorenzo Maderas graciously invited me to do a three recipe photo shoot and needless to say it was great fun and an enlightening experience.
The first classic recipe is Kare-Kare. The secret ingredient?
(Lovers of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Satay should attempt to contain themselves…)
The South African way tends to be with red wine, a nod to the French. All ingredients are cooked together in that recipe from the get go.
Kare-kare is prepared slightly different in the sense that onions and oxtail are simmered first until the meat is tender. Afterwards the sauce is made and the meat added afterwards. Traditionally, oxtail is used but can be substituted for tripe, pork, goat or chicken.
A quick look at the ingredients reveal some funny characters. If you look at the mis-en-place photo of the oxtail, next to the onions you’ll see banana blossom. This is simply for garnish and is not essential to the recipe. Rice flour and shrimp paste can easily be bought at large supermarkets. Annato oil is derived from the the seeds of the Anchiote tree and is primarily used for its colouring, although it has a slightly peppery and nutmeg taste. It is known as the poor man’s saffron. The oil is not widely sold in the UK and can be substituted with a neutral oil such as vegetable or sunflower. For those hellbent on enjoying the original dish, you can buy the seeds online and create your own oil.
This recipe is worth the time to prepare. One bite and you’ll be hooked on Filipino food. Stay tuned for more recipes from this wonderful country!
Oxtail and peanut stew – it doesn’t get better than this!
- 900g (2lbs) oxtail, segmented
- 100g (3 oz) onions, quartered
- 5ml (1 tsp) salt
- 2.5ml (1/2 tsp) whole black peppercorns
- 30g (1oz) rice flour
- 100g (3 oz) dry roasted peanuts
- 1 small eggplant, julienned
- 150g (5 oz) string beans
- 30ml (2 tbsp) annatto oil
- 5 garlic cloves
- 60g (2 oz) shrimp paste
- Wash the oxtail and place in a pot with enough water to cover.
- Boil for 10 minutes and discard the water.
- Refill the pot with water and add the onions, salt and peppercorns.
- Bring everything to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmering point.
- Cover and cook for 90 minutes or until the oxtail is tender.
- Cool in the cooking liquid. Cover and refrigerate to bring the fat to the surface. Take out the oxtail and reserve the broth.
- Place the peanuts in a food processor and chop until smooth.
- In another pot, heat the annatto oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic together with the shrimp paste.
- Add the oxtail and sauté for a few minutes before adding 4 cups of reserved broth.
- Lower the flame and simmer until the broth has been reduced by half.
- Add the rice flour and stir continuously until thick and creamy.
- Add the peanut paste and keep stirring.
- Add the meat and let it heat through then turn off the heat but keep the pot covered.
- In a separate pot, boil the green beans in salted water until cooked but firm and green.
- The eggplant can be fried. All vegetables can be added to the meat afterwards.
Oxtail can be substituted with tripe, pork or chicken. If you’re short of time use peanut butter instead of grinding your own.
Serving Size 379.8g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 41.9 g
Saturated Fat 11.2 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 44 mg
Sodium 2117 mg
Total Carbohydrates 43.6 g
Dietary Fiber 5.2 g
Sugars 2.9 g
Protein 51.7 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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P.S. A special thanks to Romulo Cafe for demonstrating this recipe to me.