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May 12, 2004


Today, we went through our normal routine. Reyna bathed and dressed Dora, prepared her breakfast, and we went for a walk, with the wheelchair, to the little Philippine grocer on Shepherd and Wilmington. Another hot May day, but overcast. The shopkeeper is a Thai woman. We found frozen kamias (Tagalog) or pias (Ilokano), which we will add to our sinigang. And, we found our patis, a fish sauce with calamansi lime, as well as orange winter squash, with a green skin.

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Reyna thought it a good idea to get started cooking for our Friday dinner, so she began with the kare kare, as oxtails take a long time to cook.
Here is the recipe. banana_blossom_tree-small.jpg
1 medium banana blossom (cut into eighths, lengthwise), fresh or canned
3 small Japanese eggplants (cut into three inch lengths, each of which is cut into quarters lengthwise, but not all the way to the top)
15 long beans (snapped into finger lengths)
1 lb pet chay (separate leaves)
1 oxtail, in 1 inch slices
4 tbsp chunky peanut butter
Achiote, powdered or whole, soaked in water to extract the color (optional)
10 cloves garlic crushed
2 thumbs ginger, washed, unpeeled and crushed
1 onion sliced
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp fried mild bagoong, or to taste
spice fried bagoon to be served on the side
ground black pepper

Have butcher slice oxtail into 1 inch thick slices. Blanch oxtail in water, drain, and place oxtail in pot. Saut´┐Ż oxtail with ginger, onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, some whole and some crushed, for 5 minutes. Cover with rice washing water, if available, or with clear water and let simmer till tender, about 2.5 hours. Or, cook in pressure cooker. Then, add chunky peanut butter. Add vegetables in the order of which cook fastest: banana blossom, long beans, eggplant, bok choy (steamed in advance and added at the very end). Season with 2 tbsp mild shrimp bakoong, while cooking, and serve the hot shrimp bakoong on the side.

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Banana blossoms are tricky and the one that we got must have been too big and too old because it was bitter, even though she carefully prepared them, removing the outer petals and the stiff black pistol from each inner capsule, slicing the petals, and salting them.



Indeed, Rayna uses canned banana blossoms here, as they are more reliable. The small young blossom heart is cut in the length into quarters or eighths, if larger. I am intrigued by banana blossoms but have never had success cooking them here. Reyna's friend says there are two kinds of banana blossom and that one of them is bitter. Others say that very mature blossoms are bitter. Her friend recommends slicing the blossom, rub salt into it for 2-3 minutes, squeeze out the bitterness, rinse, and squeeze again. Others suggest blanching the sliced banana blossom in acidulated water (use lots of lime). In other parts of the Philippines, they are prepared with coconut milk. I did have a wonderful banana blossom salad in Hanoi. The banana blossom was cut across into thin strips. Blanch the strips in acidulated water (treat with salt first, if bitter). Banana blossom is never eaten raw. It can also be made with duck.

The blossom image is from www.dixitfamily.com/ AdP91.jpg.

Posted by BKG at May 12, 2004 05:14 PM


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