Oxtail Peanut Stew (Kare Kare)

I remember the very first time I had Kare Kare. It was in Sacramento, at a Chinese-Filipino restaurant.

My dad visited us from L.A. while we were still living with our grandparents. He took us out for dinner one night, and I had no idea what to order from the menu.

He suggested I order Kare Kare, which was described as "oxtail with peanut butter sauce"...or something along those lines. I remember seeing "peanut butter" and was absolutely grossed out (I was 10 years old).

Eager to please my dad, I complied and reluctantly ordered the Kare Kare. When the dish came, my dad had a huge smile on his face.

"Put the shrimp paste on your spoon when you take a bite," he told me (in Tagalog).

I scooped up some oxtail, the dreaded "peanut butter" sauce, rice, and some shrimp paste on my spoon. I took a hesitant bite...

...and instantly fell in love. I couldn't believe how well the peanut butter and shrimp paste flavors tasted together!

"See? I told you it was yummy," said my dad.

I was so happy that I ordered Kare Kare that night. Not only did it make my dad happy, but I also learned to expand my horizons when it comes to unfamiliar food.

From that moment on, my eyes have actively searched for dishes that seem peculiar to me. That's the dish I will order from the menu.