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#ButterflyTour: I’m a Sucker For New Foods – Cooking With My Fate According to the Butterfly!


“Today is one of those moments when I’m so glad I’m not allergic to peanuts.” – Sab

At this point, I feel like I’ve dropped enough hints where I’m sure you all know what this post is going to be about. I mean, there’s the Instagram picture (and there shall be MORE), the question I asked Gail (sneaky wasn’t I?), and just the fact that I’m a foodie. I know, I hear everyone screaming that I’m a picky eater but you know what? I’m also always up to trying something new! Actually, one of my aspirations for the future is getting married to a chef so that they can give me tasty food every day

But I have another confession – I don’t actually know how to cook

I can get by pretty well. I know how to make scrambled eggs, sunny side up eggs, boiled eggs, eggs with cheese on toast, eggs with tortillas, and you know…other egg dishes. I also learned how to make salmon last year! And steamed vegetables. But my proudest moment was when I got down to business and learned how to make Japanese curry!


I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging I am but I cook up a fine piece of spicy curry. I usually make it with beef because I’m a proud carnivore, but during this past winter holiday (after a visit to Japan), I tried my hand at seafood curry. Basically, I just changed the meat for some squid, which was possibly one of the best decisions I’ve made as of yet. My mom’s not really into beef so she would reluctantly eat my curry. Now she pretty much ate the seafood one by herself

EHERM. But I’m rambling! Well, sort of. It’s been a few years now that Japanese curry has become a celebratory meal at home and I figured it was about time to learn something new

“Swimming among the orange peanut sauce are beef chunks and pieces of ox tripe with melt-in-your-mouth texture. It also has a generous amount of soft eggplant, string beans, and pechay greens. The peanut sauce isn’t too thick, nor is it too thin. It’s the perfect sauce on a cup of steamed rice. Add a dash of their sweet-and-spicy shrimp paste, and you’ve got a saucy, savory, and slightly sweet combination that’s like heaven on earth.”

If you can read this and not start drooling, who are you?! I read this and instantly knew I had to try out this dish! I looked up some nearby places to see where I could buy a meal but then got too lazy to actually go (the nearest places were in the city and too far!).

So obviously I did the next best thing – I decided to make it myself


Oh, but don’t worry. I had an adult supervise me, we all still have an unburnt home to return to! Oh my, but I haven’t even revealed that tasty piece of meat that Sab was describing yet.


While I was looking around for some recipes to try out, I realized that the making of it is really familiar. Boil the meat, tons of veggies, and the meat. Kare-Kare is…curry? So then I got curious and did some superficial research on what kare-kare is, and oh boy, this has got me curious! It turns out that there is no “set” history for this dish. Some people believe that it was a dish that came from Pampanga, the culinary center of the Philippines. Others believe it was around since before the Spanish colonized and that it was served to the Moro elite of Manila. There are also influences from neighboring Asian countries, but what set’s kare-kare apart from other neighboring curry dishes is that the broth is peanut-based. After this tour I’m going to put on my research glasses because now I’m way too intrigued about where kare-kare originates from!

And did I ever mention that I love peanuts? Ok, so maybe this was the REAL reason I wanted to give this dish a shot!


Something else that I learned through this quick search is that kare-kare is mainly made during times of celebration and I think Gail did such a GREAT job at adding this dish where she did. No, it wasn’t a holiday or a birthday, but it was a time for celebration. Without giving too many details, prior to Sab eating the kare-kare, she has a moment where she feels appreciated, celebrated, and it’s a moment of growth. She comes to realize that she’s being unfair towards Pepper but she also is publically congratulated for helping someone in need. It’s recognition and while she didn’t help the person for this, I feel moments like these really boost someone’s self-esteem, especially considering Sab is on the more quiet and insecure side of the spectrum

So yes, kare-kare is very much appropriate


But moving onto the actual cooking, what recipe will I be following? Well, none specifically. I looked up a couple and pretty much made a list of ingredients I will need

  • oxtail
  • peanut butter and/or peanuts (unsalted)
  • ground roasted rice
  • red onion, garlic, oil, black pepper
  • Annatto seeds
  • brown sugar
  • shrimp paste
  • eggplant, string beans, bok choy
  • banana heart

Out of this whole list, I feel like I had never heard of some of the necessary ingredients. What were annatto seeds? Shrimp paste? Bok choy? OXTAIL?! We had a bit of a struggle finding some of these ingredients since even the workers at our closest grocery store didn’t know what some of these were. The one I had the most trouble finding was shrimp paste! We went to a couple of stores before giving up. Then I randomly found a nearby Asian grocery store, I called them, and they said they had some!! I pretty much flew to their location. We were also not going to use banana heart but that store had some canned slices so I figured I’d try it out

I’m not the biggest fan of canned food but I wanted to try something new. I’d never heard of or seen a banana heart, but when I showed my mom the picture she was like oh yeah those things, didn’t know they were edible

After buying the ingredients, I decided I’d be using this recipe as the base. I’ve decided to make the kare-kare but spicier since my family likes spicy food. I even ended up getting the spicy shrimp paste (apparently there are spicy, normal, and sweet ones). But because the oxtail I ended up buying was actually 4.53LB, I had to make adjustments to some of the ingredients


  • 4.5LB of oxtail simmering in at least 2 Liters of water
  • A can of banana heart (we don’t have any fresh ones in this corner of the world)
  • 2-3 bundles of bok choy (I like veggies so will be adding extra)
  • bundle of string beans cut into about 2″ pieces (again, I’m going to interpret what bundle means in this one)
  • 1 eggplant (I’ve seen recipes that call for 2-4 eggplants. The ones we bought are a little big so we only ended up using one)
  • 1.5 cups of ground peanuts and 3/4 cups of peanut butter (as little to no salt as possible)
  • 3/4 Annatto seeds soaked in 1.5 cups of water (we decided to soak it in broth, again, seen recipes with both options)
  • 3/4 cup of roasted rice (We couldn’t find roasted rice at the store so I found a recipe that said to use sticky rice and then roast it. We bought some Nishiki rice that we use for sushi)
  • 1 small onion cut into fourths
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic

It was actually quite an experience! Since the recipes I found weren’t very detailed and I’m the type to not to know how to cook, I was really glad my mom helped me out


First, we cleaned off the meat and since they were already sliced into pretty decent sizes, we didn’t need to do anything else. We filled up our regular stew pot halfway with water, added a small red onion cut into fourths, and then the meat. We left it simmering for a while but had to go in and skim off the blood that bubbled to the top.
Possible fun fact: Apparently, if you don’t skim off the top, it’s ok. It just means that whatever you’re making will have a strong stew taste and the color of the stew will be darker (vs. clear when you skim). The blood will also stain your pots

Technically this is the longest phase of the cooking since it takes about 2-3 hours for the meat to become tender. In that time I got everything else and yes, it took me that long! This is also when you can start adding salt for taste. Can’t tell you how much we added since we just add bits and bobs until we found it “right”. You also don’t need to add all the salt now, we added some here and then at the end

After the meat, I measured everything out that I would need. The instructions didn’t say anything about how big (or small) I should cut the bok choy so I ended up cutting them down the middle and into three sections (unless they were much longer leaves). The point was to make them small and easy to eat, since the green beans were supposed to be about 2″ long (I just cut those in half)

I washed and measured out the rice I would need, putting it to the side so it could completely dry off. Since I couldn’t find roasted rice at the store, we would have to roast it at home

I ground the peanuts, measured out the peanut butter, and put the annatto seeds to soak in some broth, which I nabbed from the meat pot after I’d finished skimming the blood. I washed off the banana heart pieces and also left those out to dry. I believe there’s a whole process to getting the banana heart ready if you’re using the actual flower but since canned was the only one available for me, I just had to leave it out until it was ready to be added to the kare-kare

This was also my first time sauteeing veggies!! Now I know how to make some green beans (add oil and, in this case, three cloves of garlic, then the veggies)

For the eggplant, I didn’t cut it until I needed to cook it since it starts to get dark once it’s exposed to the air (like a potato, my poor potatoes! I didn’t know this and rip, they started to turn brown). I was also going to originally use two eggplants but once I put them in the pan to sautee, just one of them looked to be enough. In fact, it feels like I may have used too many veggies! But that’s okay, my family actually likes the greens

We started off with the green beans first since they take the longest to soften, then the eggplant, and last are the bok choy and banana heart. At the same time, my mom was roasting the rice, which is just putting the rice in a dry pan and cooking until they start to look brown. Make sure to keep that rice moving otherwise it will burn instead of roast

And then it was time to add everything together! This is our curry pot (dubbed as such by moi!) and the one we use for anything of this quantity. We ended up pouring 1.5L of broth into this pot but I recommend doing 2L since we had to add more down the line. With the broth and meat ready, we added the ground peanuts and peanut butter, which started to color the stew a little brown. After this, we added the annatto coloring to make it a little more orangey

We found the annatto didn’t color the kare-kare too much by just letting it soak in a bit of broth (which we did while the meat was cooking). To fix this we ended up using our pretty blue sieve (to color the kare-kare even more, mini-video on IG here). This way the kare-kare began to take on a more vibrant red-orange color! This is also when we started to add salt, pepper, and the spicy peppers for taste. It actually required more salt than I expected (I’m not a huge fan of salt)

Before adding the veggies and rice we let the peanuts dissolve as much as possible

And this was the end result! According to my parents and brothers, the broth really tasted like peanuts and I was just here eating it like not enough peanuts (I love peanuts, which sucks because I’m actually not supposed to be eating them but alas, we must make sacrifices for the things we love!)

The little red-brown blob on the side of my plate is shrimp paste, which you eat with the kare-kare. I actually didn’t like it very much because it was very salty and concentrated. I ended up just eating the kare-kare as it was and even got seconds~


Like I mentioned before, I’ve never had kare-kare before so I can’t really say if this was a successful dish or not. I did have fun making it and plan to make some more in the future. I hear it can also be made with seafood and other meat. While I did like the oxtail, I have to admit that it just didn’t have enough meat on those bones (I love meat, extra meat, moarrr meat). But what do you guys think? Does it look like something you’d want to try out?

It’s pretty clear the one I made isn’t as amazing as the one Sab was eating (I think the one I made is too thick??), but I like to think that with a little practice and finding out what kare-kare should taste like, I can perfect it 😉


MFAttB cover

My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva ● Publication Date: July 30, 2019 ● Publisher: Scholastic Press

Light and deep, smart and funny, crushing and hopeful all at the same time, My Fate According to the Butterfly will open your eyes to both the world’s potential for magic, and to its harsh realities.

When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her—on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.

If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears—of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom—and figure out the cause of their rift.

So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Ate Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Ate Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever anticipated.

Official Website | Buy on Amazon | Add to Goodreads



Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer, an entrepreneur, and a graphic artist. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly, is coming from Scholastic Press on July 30, 2019

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest


ButterflyTour Blog Tour Schedule

Don’t forget to check out everyone’s posts! Instagram posts are in orange and I will be adding links as the tour continues

21 July 2019

22 July 2019

23 July 2019

24 July 2019

25 July 2019

  • Review from Bookish Wisps
  • Review, excerpt and favorite quotes from R E A (D) I V I N E
  • Review, aesthetics/moodboard, and excerpt from The Last Reader
  • Review, author interview, and excerpt from Chrikaru Reads
  • Review, and creative feature post from The Ultimate Fangirl
  • Karlita from Tale Out Loud AND Michele Montierro from Fil-Am Learners

26 July 2019

  • Review, and favorite quotes from Flipping Through the Pages
  • Review, quote graphics, and excerpt from The Night Faerie
  • Review, aesthetics/moodboard, and favorite quotes from Mind of Luxe
  • Review, author interview, excerpt and favorite quotes from Fil-Am Learners
  • Review, aesthetics/moodboard, and quote graphics from The Bibliophile Confessions
  • Stephanie Wang from Holed Up in a Book AND Isabella from Lives in YA Books

27 July 2019

ButterflyTour Twitter Chat

#ButterflyTour Twitter chat hosted by @shutupshealea
9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
9:00 PM Philippine Time

And you guys thought you were rid of me! Not yet. I have ONE MORE post for you guys coming in four hours

Until then!


9 thoughts on “#ButterflyTour: I’m a Sucker For New Foods – Cooking With My Fate According to the Butterfly!

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