The Philippines is one of my favorite places to indulge in my passion for scuba diving. Filipinos have a rich and diverse food culture, which means I also get to taste new a new nut-bearing food upon each visit.
Last year during my trip to the Philippines, I stayed in Cebu at Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa where I met chef Adolfo Lopez ("Chef Dolf" for short). He introduced me to kare kare, oxtail stew with a peanut butter sauce, the epitome of Filipino comfort food. This year, when I heard I was coming back, he prepared kaldereta, another classic Filipino dish for me, but with a recipe unique to the southeastern part of the Philippines.
Like kare kare, kaldereta is a stew of sorts, always served with white rice. But where kare kare is traditionally made with oxtail, kaldereta is usually made with beef or goat< (chef Dolf says you can also substitute lamb if you prefer).
And here's the interesting, nutty twist: in Cebu and Mindinao, peanut butter is also added to the sauce for an extra kick of flavor.
Kaldereta is traditionally served during parties for birthdays, weddings, and town feast days. The rich mix of ingredients has some Spanish influences (like the tomatoes) but the combination of divergent flavors is uniquely Filipino (it even has some cheese in it for creaminess). Chef Dolf added that the dish is very "fortifying," and is often eaten while drinking copious amounts of beer.
No doubt there are thousands of different kaldereta recipes out there—it's the kind of dish that every cook puts their own unique twist on. But if you enjoy Filipino food and cooking with peanut butter, this might be just the thing the for your next big get-together meal.
Do you have any favorite twists on classic recipes that use nuts in interesting ways?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods
made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.