Thursday, July 15, 2010


I know I'm really late posting this, but I have a really good reason. Around midnight of Tuesday another typhoon slammed the Philippines. The wind was howling and whipping the trees like paper. I had a sudden feeling of de ja vu, would this be like the other typhoon last September last year that cost us our house, cars and pets? I had to remind myself that we now lived in a safer place, in a 3-storey townhouse, away from the flood-prone community. Just when I was recovering from my initial panic attack, all of a sudden the electricity was cut off and Quezon City was plunged into darkness. And this black out went on and on ...the electricity was down, internet was down, even the phone lines were not working properly. And the worst thing was the rumors swirling around that we would be in this state for at least 3 days...but wonders of all wonders, after 26 hours, we finally got the power back, the internet back and the phone lines were working perfectly! And so here is my they say..better late than never :)
The July 2010 Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network Online.
While I was lurking in the forums, I noticed that almost everyone had food processors for their nut butters--I was already thinking if I should use the blender at home to make my job easier, but then someone suggested using a mortar and pestle, which was what I did. The thing about turning nuts into butter manually is the amount of labor that goes into it. I was getting tempted to just whizz everything in the blender...but I chose to make it the good old fashioned way with a lot of elbow grease and well...grease in the form of oil. Even then, my nut butters didn't turn out as smooth as my fellow daring cooks. But when I used it to thicken and flavor my dishes, it was well worth it.
The first dish I made was Pipian which originally used chicken, I wasn't too keen on using plain chicken so I made chicken meatballs instead. For this recipe, I made cashew nut butter.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon annatto seeds (atsuete/achiote)
green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small thai chili, chopped
2 teaspoons coconut vinegar
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 T cashew nut butter
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Chicken Meat Balls
500 grams Ground chicken
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Onions, minced

In a bowl, mix ground chicken, garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Make sure all the ingredients are well blended. Form into meatballs, makes approximately 12. Set aside in the refrigerator, this can be done ahead of time and frozen.

Heat olive oil in pan, add the annatto seeds, cook and stir until the oil takes the color of the seeds. Discard seeds using a slotted spoon. Increase heat and add the chicken meat balls, brown them. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the green onions, garlic and chili and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Dissolve rice flour in a large cup of the chicken stock. Add to pan with the cashew butter and Fish sauce. Return the meatballs to the pan and simmer, covered for 20 minutes until sauce thickens, adjust seasoning as necessary. Garnish with whole cashew nuts and chili, seve hot.
*The original recipe calls for peanut butter, but I took the liberty of using cashew nut butter.

Seafood Kare-Kare
2 tablespoons Oil
1 tablespoon Onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice flour (toasted and dissolved in about a cup of shrimp stock)
2 tablespoons annatto seeds in 1/4 cup of boiling water
2 eggplants, sliced
1 bundle string beans, sliced
2 whole Flower crabs
1 whole Cream Dory Fillet, sliced
1/4 kilo shrimps (head, shells and tails removed)

Clean shrimps by removing the heads, tails and shells, do not throw. Make stock by boiling the heads, tails and shells in about 2 cups of water, let it come to a boil, skim the surface of scum and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and throw out the shells, set aside the shrimp stock.

Preheat pan with oil, saute the garlic and onions. Add the toasted rice flour dissolved in shrimp stock. Add the peanut butter and the annatto water. Mix well until sauce is thick and smooth. Add more stock and add the seafood. Remove the fish and the shrimps as soon as they are cooked. Let crab cook and add the vegetables.
Serve hot with sauteed bagoong (shrimp paste).
Peanuts being crushed for my nut butter

Seafood Kare-Kare with Flower Crabs, Shrimps and Cream Dory Fillet

I really had fun with this challenge and it made me explore the Filipino dishes using nut butters. Thank you Marge and Natashya!


Audax said...

Absolutely loved how you tweaked the recipes for local tastes and the Kare-Kare looks so tasty. Glad to hear that the storm caused you no damage apart from some worry. Well done on this challenge and the meatballs do look good. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

anjelikuh said...

Wow, i'd love to try this pipian sometimes, never heard of it but it looks delicious! Great job!

shelley c. said...

Wow - that storm sounds scary, mostly for the memories of the last one... glad everyone is okay. Your dishes look fantastic, and extra kudos for hand-making the nut butters! Excellent job!

TaGa_Luto said...

There you are! I was wondering what happened. Glad to hear that you guys are okay. Haven't heard anything from relatives in Marikina, they are probably okay too.

Now for your challenge, i've not heard of Pipian, now i'm interested to make them. Your kare-kare is d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. I love seafoods and kare-kare, only wish i can buy fresh seafoods here in my neck of the woods. Well, actually i can buy them but they're like gold=;)

Margie said...

Thank goodness you are safe and sound. Your cashew Pipian and Kare Kare both look fabulous... really delicious. Both dishes are new to me and it's great to learn about new ways to use nut butter. Nice job with the mortar and pestle!

Jo said...

Awesome job! I love that you had made local dishes with the nut butters. And I agree that the meatballs look really good!

Cook of the House said...

I would say that you have a very good excuse for posting late! I am glad to hear that everything turned out well this time. Your Pipian dish looks great. I will have to try it. Kelly

Joy said...

I love kare kare. I have never had pipian. I can't wait to try this.

FabFrugalFood said...

Beee-ooootiful! Your dish is amazing. Storm or no storm!

julie said...

Ohhh.... the dish with the chicken meatballs looks absolutely divine!

I'm so glad your weather cleared up and all is well. That sounded scary!

Nice job on your challenge and yay for you on crunching up your own nut butter!

Sarah said...

I'm so glad everything is okay there now. The typhoon sounds scary... Your challenge recipe sounds delicious.

Valérie said...

The typhoon sounds like a very scary experience, I'm glad you're okay! I'm so impressed that you made the nut butter by hand! Your dishes look excellent!

Kitchen Bliss! said...

Wow your dishes look absolutely delicious!

Ozoz said...

It was a fantastic challenge wasn't it. I'll have to give cashew butter a try now.......lovely recipe!

Justin said...

i've never heard of pipian, but that looks really good to me

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Your dishes look very tasty - I need to add Kare Kare to my repertoire! Glad that you weathered the storm...

Suzler said...

Wow wow wow! Your dishes look mouthwateringly good. Nice job!

I'm glad to hear you suffered no storm damage. That sounds so scary.

Lisa Michelle said...

OMG..I am bookmarking the Pipian - it looks delectable!! The seafood kare kare looks amazing too - so bookmarked also! You really kicked some booty in this challenge, but you always do :)

Anula said...

Chicken meat balls... hmm sounds great! Well done on this month's challenge!

Cheers. Anula.

Lori said...

I sure would love to try all of your creations here. They looked so good.

It is amazing how reliant we all are on our power. I am lost without it. Feel like a fish out of water. Glad to hear it wasnt as long as anticipated.