During the lockdown I kept craving for kare-kare—the old-fashioned kare-kare made with tenderized ox tail and ox leg.
I remember the kare-kare my mother used to make when I was growing up. Aside from the traditional ingredients, she also added tripe and goto. The goto was my favorite part. It had some bite yet it tasted soft and milky.
During the lockdown, however, I couldn’t go out to buy ingredients for kare-kare. From their safe perches in their homes overseas, my children issued strict orders for me to stay home. What a reversal of roles. Now the children are the ones making the rules. But I understood their concern and I, too, realized the need to protect myself from the raging virus outside, so stay home I did.
Luckily my friend Clara Reyes Lapus sent me some Mama Sita mixes, among which was a pack of kare-kare gulay mix. Made with real peanuts, the mix is typical of Mama Sita’s products. Not only are they convenient to use, they’re also made with natural ingredients.
Since the mix specified that it’s to be used for vegetables, I had to limit the ingredients to sitaw (long beans), okra and eggplants. I still haven’t been able to buy the meats anyway. Besides, okra and eggplant are two of my favorite vegetables.
For vegetarians who may miss eating kare-kare, this Mama Sita mix may be the answer to their dilemma. The dish I cooked using the mix turned out to be very satisfying, even without the meat.
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 medium-size eggplant, sliced diagonally
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6-8 sitaw, cut into 2-inch lengths
6-10 okra, trimmed and each sliced into two
1 30-g pack Mama Sita’s Kare-Kareng Gulay Mix
1 c water
6-8 leaves Baguio pechay (optional)
In a large skillet or wok, heat the cooking oil and sauté the eggplants until slightly tender. Remove the eggplants from the skillet and set aside.
Sauté the onions and garlic in the same oil. Add the sitaw and okra and continue sautéing until the vegetables are slightly tender. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In a bowl, dissolve the Mama Sita mix in the water. Pour the mix into the pan and bring to a simmer.
Return the eggplants, sitaw and okra to the pan. If desired, you can add one-half cup more of water. Add the Baguio pechay, if using.
Simmer until the vegetables are tender but do not overcook.