This dish is proof of the immense influence the Spanish had on Filipino cooking. It's difficult not to imbibe so much of a culture that was around for more than 300 years, pretty much permeating everything from our religion, to our names, our language, and our food. I think this is what makes Filipino food so different from those of our Southeast Asian neighbors. Because the Philippines was under Spanish rule for so long, add to that the omnipresence of the Chinese, Filipino food, as a final product, is truly an amalgamation of Malay, Hispanic and Chinese cuisines.
Caldereta is essentially a beef stew, along the lines of osso buco and other occidental stews, but the use of coconut milk makes it decidedly Filipino. This dish is considered "celebration food," served during birthdays, fiestas and other gatherings. It's a Friday. In my book, that is always cause for celebration.
2 lbs. beef, cubed
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 can whole tomatoes (about 4-5 pieces and half the juice)
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 cups coconut milk
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 cup drained whole olives
1. Season beef with salt and pepper.
2. In a heavy pot, like a dutch oven, brown beef on all sides.
3. Add onion and garlic.
4. Add tomatoes, crushing them as you add them.
5. Add soy sauce, bay leaves and beef broth.
6. Cover pot and simmer over low heat until beef is tender, about 2 hours.
7. Add potatoes, red peppers, olives and coconut milk. Adjust seasoning with salt as needed.
8. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 more minutes until potatoes are done and sauce has thickened.