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Menu Spotlight: Kare-kare from Evelyn's Asian Table in Oklahoma City
By Dave Cathey
| Published: July 17, 2012
Evelyn's Asian Table, 5934 NW 122.
Chef/owner Evelyn Berzabal made her reputation producing for local hotel kitchens for decades, and now she's got her own place. She manned the kitchen at Asian Clay Pot for a few months to learn the transition and now is cooking full-bore near the corner of N MacArthur Boulevard and NW 122, featuring dishes from her native Philippines plus favorites from Thailand, Korea, China and Malaysia. She offers a lunch buffet Monday through Saturday. Saturday's buffet is Filipino food only.
THE FOOD DUDE SAYS:
If you love peanut butter as much as I do, Kare-kare is a gift from the heavens. Pick your favorite protein, add fresh vegetables such as green beans, okra, cabbage, spinach, carrots and even a little eggplant if you like, and Berzabal will stir fry your choices before adding a sauce derived from peanut butter and ground glutinous rice. Served in a hot pot with an ample mound of steamed rice, this Filipino mainstay will have peanut butter lovers planning their return.
I talked to Berzabal, and here's what she had to say.
Kare-kare is bigger in the Philippines than hamburgers are in North America. There was no one else she knew of doing Filipino food in Oklahoma City, so she decided to put her considerable skills to work to share the flavors of her birthplace. Traditional Kare-kare has green beans, eggplant and okra; the Americanized version has cabbage, carrots and spinach. Berzabal said she makes both kinds, or guests can mix and match, depending on what vegetables are in season.
WHAT DISTINGUISHES IT FROM OTHER RICE BOWLS:
The sauce. Berzabal makes all her own sauces, and this one includes peanut butter and ground glutinous rice. She says not many people know how to correctly grind the rice, and if you can't grind the rice, you can't make kare-kare.
ONE THING FOLKS MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT KARE-KARE:
For symmetry, have a halo-halo (pronounced hollow-hollow) for dessert after a hot bowl of kare-kare. A stack of shaved ice, sweet fruit, ice cream and evaporated milk, this Filipino favorite will keep you from melting on a hot afternoon.