Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Throw another tail on the barbecue.

And so ended more than 120 balmy days in a row, in which the maximum daily temperature did not fall below twenty Celsius. As well as warmth, there was plenty of rain, so the garden grew; and there was lawn, and the sound of mowers resonated on Saturday mornings again across the suburb.

As the warm days crash headlong into cooler weather, I cooked something that welcomed an old winter favourite, but was finished on the barbecue. Autumn compromise. The best of both worlds.

Kare Kare

This is a traditional Filipino twice-cooked oxtail dish with a tomato peanut sauce and a fishy kick. It had a livelier flavour and is easier to eat than the oxtail stews and soups we are used to.

With old-fashioned oxtail stew recipes, you brown the tails first. Forget that - here, you just throw them in the pot with seasonings and brown them later – on the barbecue.

I put a kilogram of oxtail – about seven pieces – in a large pot with a chopped onion, a bay leaf, three cloves of garlic and salt and pepper. The I covered it with water, brought it to the boil, simmered it for an hour, then switched it off and let it cool.

Then I made the sauce: in a pot, I cooked a small chopped onion and a clove of garlic in a little oil for a few minutes until they started to soften; added three tablespoons of peanut butter and ¾ cup each of tomato puree and broth from the stew, and stirred it over a low heat until it thickened. Then I stirred through three tablespoons of chopped parsley and a dash of salt and pepper.

I removed the oxtail pieces from broth, seasoned them and brushed them with oil, and placed them on the very hot grate, turning them every couple of minutes. Six minutes: done.

I served the tails on boiled rice, three to a plate and one left over. I spooned chopped anchovies over the oxtail and topped it with the tomato peanut sauce. (You can serve the sauce on the side for dipping. In place of anchovies, you could use a few drops of fish sauce; if you were in Manila you might use bagoong.)

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