“ginataang manok” by Lalaine, I thought of cooking another “ginataan” (cooked in coconut milk) meat dish which I once prepared long time ago. My last encounter with the dish is when I ate it at a popular “turo-turo” or roadside eatery somewhere along the thickly vegetated and forested highway in the beautiful province of Laguna in the Philippines. I am referring to the quite exotic dish called “ginataang kalabaw” which translates to carabeef cooked in coconut milk in English.
“Kalabaw” is the Filipino name for the Philippine water buffalo called Carabao (“Bubalus bubalis carabanesis”), a domesticated sub-species of the common water buffalo or domestic Asian water buffalo (“Bubalus bubalis”). Carabao is a large bovine animal indigenous to Southeast Asia and found in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, other parts of Southeast Asia and interestingly, Guam where they were exported from the Philippines in the late 17th century during the Spanish colonization of the island.
The carabao is generally considered by most Filipinos to be the national animal although not officially supported by a law or decrees, which is required to be recognized as a national symbol. It has have been domesticated in the Philippines as far back as pre-Hispanic times and is often used by farmers to plow the fields and as a means of transportation. It is one of the most important animals of the country, especially in agriculture. Just like cow, it is also a good source of nutritious milk and may be slaughtered for its meat and hide.
Since I am here in Sri Lanka, the carabeef that I will be using in this recipe actually came from Asian water buffalo and not from the sub-species carabao. Honestly though, I don’t see any difference.
To cook the dish, we need about 1 kilogram or about 2.2 lbs carabeef, cut up to serving sizes, preferably across the grains. Wash the meat several times to remove traces of blood and then drain it thoroughly.
“ginataang manok” recently featured here, the secret to this recipe is to extract fragrant oil from some coconut milk itself prior to sautéing.
In a large wok or pan or heavy bottomed casserole, heat ¼ cup of the coconut milk on low flame. Continue cooking with regular stirring until the coconut milk starts to curdle, releases its own oil (“naglalangis o naglalatik”) and becomes aromatic. When the coconut oil is evident along with the “latik”, add in garlic followed by onion and continue frying the spices on the sizzling oil.
Taste and adjust the seasonings. Continue cooking until liquid is reduced and has thickened. Remove some of the oil that will float on the surface if it is excessive. I scooped out about half a cup of oil from the creamy sauce. :-)
“ginataang manok”, perfect with steamed rice. :-)