If you’ve travelled to Asia, there’s a high chance you’ve seen or visited a ‘wet market’. If you’ve travelled to Asia and have no clue what I’m talking about, you’ve missed out on half the trip and a good chunk of the full experience.
For the uninitiated, a wet market, as the name suggests, is a fresh food market selling meat, fish and produce in a loud, dense, open-air building. Stalls are aligned side by side, usually only a metre apart, which makes for a slightly tense and largely awkward shopping experience, should you choose to betray your usual merchant.
The ‘wet’ part, I suspect, comes from the puddles of mud and pools of water you must carefully maneuver through as you weave between yelling vendors and bartering customers.
Produce from wet markets are also cheap, especially if you buy before dawn or are willing to haggle with cleaver-wielding butchers. While I’m relieved that I no longer have to take my chances when shopping, I miss the variety of obscure cuts and unusual meats that were available. Thankfully, many local butchers do stock offal and curious meat cuts (usually stored in secret, just ask!).
I double dare you to summon your inner Heston Blumenthal and swap you bog standard Sunday roast for kare-kare, a Filipino peanut stew made with beef tripe and oxtail. Bear in mind these cuts do take a longer time to soften, so it’s best to make it on a day you’ve got time to spare, which is why Sunday is usually perfect for most.
But who are we kidding? It’s lockdown. Of course, you have time.
Recipe courtesy of my mama, Eleonor, who never measured her ingredients but somehow always got it right. I measured it for her, so now you will too.