Caldereta is the star of my uncle’s banquet table. When he was still working, his country cook Mang Ipê, made caldereta for special occasions. Mang Ipê used only the finest ingredients, including baby potatoes in their skins (skinned potatoes spoil quickly, he said).
My son doesn’t mind eating caldereta every day. Even if he had caldereta at home, it would be his dish of choice at the mall, especially anywhere there’s a Makati Skyline stall. In buffets, he would dig in at the caldereta ahead of lechon or kare-kare.
When I went to Germany in March 1997, I cooked this dish for my host, Rose (a native of Pangasinan) and Boy (a native of Bohol). It was quite an adventure going to Markthalle, the city’s central market just across the Alte Rathaus, to buy the ingredients — especially beef at the time of the dreaded hoof-and-mouth disease plaguing Europe. (Bell peppers are called “capsicum” in Germany, both in Deutsch and English.) Nonetheless, the dish was an instant hit in the Filipino-German community in Laatzen. The spouses took the recipe to heart — when I went back the following month (and the following year), they cooked caldereta and it always tasted like mine.
This recipe, a product of pre-Internet research, is a classic. It uses traditional ingredients and the old traditional method of slow cooking. It is a souped-up version of Mang Ipê’s caldereta which has become the benchmark for our clan.
Caldereta | Spicy Beef Stew
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup soy sauce divided
- 4 cloves garlic crushed, divided
- 1 tsp. freshly cracked peppercorn
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 kg beef short ribs
- 100 g ox liver or 1 85 g can liver spread
- ½ cup olive oil divided
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes chopped
- 80 g caldereta sauce Mama Sita’s or Del Monte Quick n Easy or tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 2 siling labuyo bird’s eye chiles
- 2 medium potatoes pared and cut into 1-inch cubes (or 250 g baby potatoes, skins on, scrubbed)
- 1 carrot pared and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 Tbsp. brandy optional
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- ¼ cup grated Edam cheese
- ¼ cup pimento-stuffed olives for garnish optional
- Place vinegar, ¼ cup of the soy sauce, half of the garlic, the peppercorn, and salt in a glass or plastic bowl. Marinate beef and liver for 1 hour or overnight in the fridge. Drain; discard marinade.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Sear beef in batches until browned all over; transfer to a plate; add more olive oil for each batch. Sear the liver, mash, transfer to a small bowl.
- Add remaining olive oil to the Dutch oven. Stir-fry the remaining garlic for 30 to 45 seconds until golden and fragrant. Stir-fry the onions for about 1 minute or until soft. Stir-fry the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes until mushy. Add the beef, the remaining ¼ cup soy sauce, the caldereta sauce, oregano, and chiles; simmer covered for 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
- Add water to cover; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered for 60 minutes or until beef is almost tender. Add potatoes, carrot, and brandy; cook on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Stir in the mashed liver, bell pepper, and grated cheese; simmer for about 5 minutes until cheese melts. Stir in olives. Turn off the heat.
- Best served a day or two after cooking. Serve with steamed rice.