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Recipe by Craig Jimenez, executive chef, Craft & Commerce

I never thought cooking would be a career. It wasn’t until I failed miserably at a T-shirt business when I was in my 20s did I realize I wanted to be a chef. We failed because we were in it for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t our passion. Eventually we gave it up and asked ourselves what we would do if money didn’t matter. I decided, for me, it was cooking.

After that, I just started putting raw ideas down and cooking. I stumbled upon a couple of schools and decided on the Art Institute in San Diego. I liked the vibe. After school, I worked at a bakery in Cape Cod and an ice-carving shop in San Diego. When I was delivering ice sculptures, I got to see almost every restaurant through the backdoor and, by luck, ended up back in the kitchen. I’ve been executive chef at Craft & Commerce since we opened our doors last summer.

On my days off, I don’t want to cook or slave over the stove. So when I do cook, I love quick and easy dishes. When I want something satisfying, I love making kare kare, a traditional Filipino dish. Basically, it’s a peanut butter–braised oxtail. It’s a very luxurious winter dish and it’s loaded with vegetables. All the vegetables are cooked separately, blanched and put on the side so they stay fresh and bright. It’s salty, and savory, and it’s so good. You can find the ingredients — including the oxtail and tripe — at Whole Foods. You may want to phone ahead to the butcher. After that, it’s an easy recipe.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 5–6

  • 5 pounds oxtail, (cut into single pieces)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-5 T olive oil (divided use)
  • 2.5 gallons cold water (divided use)
  • 1.5 pounds honeycomb tripe (backside and edges cleaned of tough sinew)
  • ½ cup garlic cloves, whole and trimmed
  • 3 large onions, diced large
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 dried chile de árbol (or cayenne pepper)
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ 16 oz. jar all natural peanut butter
  • ½ tsp ground annatto seed
  • ½ 9 oz. jar fermented shrimp paste (Barrio Fiesta brand Bagoong Guisado)
  • 1 bunch scallions, cleaned and trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
  • 5 baby bok choy, quartered
  • 1–2 Japanese eggplant, quartered and cut into 2" pieces

HOW TO DO IT

Place a large stockpot on high heat. Season oxtail liberally with the kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour 2–3 tablespoons olive oil into the pot and begin to sear all sides of the oxtail. Turn down the heat and add 1¼ gallons of cold water and honeycomb tripe. Simmer this on medium-low heat for 3 to 4 hours. Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Test your tripe and oxtail after 3 hours to see how tender they are. The oxtail should still be intact but tender and about to fall off the bone. Remove the meat from the liquid and allow the tripe to cool. Discard liquid. You can now cut up the tripe into 2" squares. This process can be done a day in advance.

Trim the garlic and cut the onions and carrots into large dice. In a clean stockpot, sauté garlic, onions, and carrots in about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add tripe and oxtail and pour 1¼ gallons of cold water to cover. Bring to a simmer. Add the chile de árbol and skim off any impurities. When the broth is reduced by half, add coconut milk, peanut butter, ground annatto seed, and shrimp paste. Annatto gives the dish peppery and nutmeg flavors. When the broth has thickened, simmer for 20 more minutes.

While the broth is simmering, clean and cut the scallions into 2-inch pieces, quarter the bok choy, and cut the eggplant into 2-inch pieces. Blanch the vegetables by cooking them for about 30 seconds in boiling water and then plunging them into a bowl of ice water. After the vegetables are cooled, drain, pat dry, and serve on the side with the kare kare.

Serve with hot, steamed rice.

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