The Half Century. Week 50. Philippines . Caldereta.

I’ve been to The Philippines. In 2005 I was tasked with setting up an offshore Telesales Unit for the company I worked for at the time.  I loved my time there but it was extremely eventful. When the company tried to get my insurance they were shocked to find out it would be £2000 for the week. This, supposedly, was due to an increasing trend of kidnappings in Manila, where I was to travel. The kidnappings rarely made the main press stories as they were usually over within 24 hours. Gangs would capture Western Businessmen and demand $20,000 for the release. As the level of ransom was pitched low, companies paid up. I was ever so slightly nervous I was about to become a statistic. My nerves were not overly calmed when my taxi from the airport locked all the doors and when I got to the hotel I was shocked when security sent a dog through the car and a huge mirror underneath the car to check for explosives. The hotel was stunning and the food excellent but it was tarnished by working -girls frequenting the bar and disappearing upstairs with disgusting, fat, sleezey American men who thought it entirely acceptable to pay to cheat on their poor wives.

I worked UK hours whilst over there, as the call centre would be calling England, so I had to head to work at about 5pm. On the first day I picked up a cab from reception and asked to be taken to a cash machine. It didn’t work so he agreed to charge the fare to my hotel and my room. He also told me he knew exactly where to take me, so I sat back in my locked cab and trusted him. To put things into context; I am just short of 2 metres tall, I am white, I have a shaved head and I was wearing a suit. The typical person on the street was a good 30cm shorter and wearing flip-flops. So, with no money, standing out like a sore thumb and holding a laptop, when I was dropped in the wrong place I am sure you can imagine my rising panic. I span around looking for any signs of what to do when I noticed that the cab had turned right at the junction ahead and was heading back my way – albeit down the next block. I have never run so fast in my life. I leapt onto the bonnet and crashed my hand down onto his windscreen, slapping it until he let me back in. Fortunately it had just been an innocent mistake but for those 30 seconds I was lost and alone I was sure he had just set me up.

The rest of my time in Manila was fantastic. I loved the evening thunderstorms and monsoon downpours, the people were tremendously accommodating and the food was delicious. I ate a lot of noodles whilst I was there, but I have always remembered a beef stew I had which blew my mind. Deep rich meat but with flavours of Asia. I haven’t tried to make it until now.

Not the type of dish you would imagine from Asia, Caldereta draws on Spanish influences but has the twist of soy and chilli which you might seem more appropriate. Spain had great influence in the Philippines from 1550 until the beginning of the 20th Century FYI.

It’s very simple to make and works best with slow cooked cuts of meat (see previous post).

Here is how I made my 50th dish!

  • 500g Beef Shin
  • 1 Onion
  • 5 Carrots
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Large Potatoes
  • 1 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 2 Pints Water
  • 1 TBSP Chilli Flakes
  • 150G Liver Pate
  • 1 TBSP Tomato Puree
  • 1 TBSP Chilli Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Begin by browning the onion and beef together in oil. This will take about 10 minutes. At that point add half the soy sauce and the garlic.

Add in the water and the bay leaves and then let it all simmer for at least two hours.

Once the meat is starting to soften add the chilli flakes, chilli sauce, tomato puree, pate, potato and carrot.

This needs to stew for about another hour and then everything will be thick and soft. If you like you could add some spring onion or chopped white onion now just to add some texture back.

Finally grate some strong cheese over the top, sprinkle with chilli flakes and drizzle with some olive oil.

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