What Is Kaldereta?

Karize Uy

Kaldereta is a type of meat stew that is a staple in Filipino cuisine, especially in the Tagalog or Luzon region of the Philippines. Almost any kind of meat — such as beef, chicken, or pork — can be used to make this stew, but beef and goat meat is often preferred. It is most often eaten with a hefty serving of white rice, with some of the kaldereta sauce poured over it.

Beef is a common ingredient in kaldereta.
Beef is a common ingredient in kaldereta.

The history behind this stew is uncertain, but what is evident is the dish’s Spanish roots, since the Philippines were under the Spanish rule for more than 300 years. The word “kaldereta” is actually derived from the Spanish word, “caldereta,” which means “cauldron” or “cooking pot.” Caldereta is also a name for a Spanish stew, although seafood such as the red lobster is primarily used instead of goat or beef. The replacement of meat can probably be attributed to the availability and affordability of meat when the dish was introduced in the Philippines.

Kaldereta can be made using goat meat.
Kaldereta can be made using goat meat.

Traditionally, kaldereta is cooked using goat meat, which many people say tastes similar to lamb. Goat meat is also a healthier option since its fat content can be 50% lower than that of beef or lamb while its protein content is the same, making any dish less fatty but still flavorful and healthy. It also has the lowest cholesterol but highest iron per serving, as compared to beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. Still, many cooks substitute beef for the goat, since the latter is more available in mainstream grocery stores.

Aside from the meat used, other primary ingredients for the kaldereta are tomato sauce and mashed liver. The tomato sauce is used mainly to make the liquid broth, along with some water and spices such as garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. The mashed liver, which is initially boiled before mashing, is added to both thicken the broth and to make the flavors “meatier.” For cooks who want a quicker cooking time, commercial liver spread can be used instead of the mashed liver.

The kaldereta should be simmered until the meat is tender and the liquid broth is thick. Raw vegetables such as carrots, peas, and bell peppers are added, although some cooks initially stir-fry the vegetables before adding them into the stew. Olives can also be added. Some recipes also suggest including potatoes, as the starch can help thicken and flavor the stew. A few chili peppers can also be included to give the kaldereta a little heat.

Bell peppers are typically added to kaldereta.
Bell peppers are typically added to kaldereta.

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