How to Make Kare Kare from Scratch

Kare Kare is a Filipino dish made traditionally with oxtail, vegetables, and peanut-based sauce. Learn how to make this delicious recipe with tender meat and tasty homemade peanut stew!

All images are by Edison Cabrera-Manalo, a family, engagement, and lifestyle photographer based in Oregon and Washington. Follow him on Instagram or his website.

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Kare Kare is one of my favorite Filipino foods! My dad and I share an affinity for this tasty dish. Every time I go back home to California, I get my Filipino cravings out of the way (usually within a day of arriving – haha). Like clockwork, we’ll go to our favorite Filipino restaurant and order our usual favorites. You can bet Kare Kare is a staple in our order!

To make this dish, I’ve invited Craig Cabrera-Manalo of Tailored2Taste as our special guest.  In a previous post, you’ve seen Craig make Chicken Kelaguen, a famous dish in the Northern Marianas (aka the Mariana Islands or Saipan), a Pacific island near Guam.

I enjoy the peanutty goodness of Kare Kare. I would say the peanut sauce is the essential part of making this dish a hit. We made the sauce from scratch, combining peanut butter and the beef broth used to cook the meat. To thicken the sauce, we used lightly toasted (uncooked) ground rice, but you may use cornstarch or arrowroot diluted in a little bit of water as well. The toasted rice adds a nutty flavor, which compliments the peanuts in this dish.

The yellow-orange color of the sauce is typically made with annatto (aka atsuete or achiote) seeds. If you have annatto seeds, you’ll add a teaspoon of seeds in 1/4 cup of hot water and let it soak for a few minutes. Then, strain the seeds and use the water for coloring. Since we didn’t have those readily available, we used a seasoning packet instead.

Traditionally, Kare Kare is made with oxtail meat (some even add tripe). We substituted with short ribs and cooked it with the bones (adds quite a bit of flavor to the broth). Simmer for about 2.5 to 3 hours to get that fall-off-the-bone tenderness in the meat!

For vegetables, we used long-string beans, Chinese eggplant, and bok choy (Craig prefers the green vs the white stems). If you can’t find long-string beans and Chinese eggplant, check your local Asian market. If you’re still having trouble looking for the Chinese eggplant, use the Italian eggplant commonly sold at stores (peel off the skin to avoid the bitterness). Craig suggests using Napa cabbage as a substitute for bokchoy. Cook the vegetables for a few minutes (more on the instructions below).

Mix the meat, vegetables, and sauce and serve as a whole or separately (like we did).  Craig called this “Deconstructed Kare Kare”. Serve immediately with rice. Garnish with roasted peanuts on top and shrimp paste on the side (optional).

ingredients

  • 4 pounds short ribs (or oxtail)
  • Water to cover
  • 2 Chinese eggplants (about 1/2 pound), sliced 3/4-inch thick
  • Chinese long string beans (usually these are bundled; use half of the bundle). Trim the ends and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 6-8 pieces baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice for thickening agent (slowly add to broth until you get the desired consistency).
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped peanuts for garnish (or chunky peanut butter as a timesaver)
  • 3 tablespoons annattto (a.k.a. atsuete or achiote) water or 1 packet of annatto seasoning
  • Bagoong or shrimp paste for flavoring (serve on side)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

instructions

  • Place the meat in a pot and add water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil. Take the temperature down to low and simmer for about 2.5 to 3 hours, until tender.
  • Prepare the vegetables by blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes. For eggplant, leave in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes until tender. For bokchoy and string beans, blanch until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • Take uncooked rice and toast it in a pan on low heat. Shake it around the pan and cook until everything is evenly toasted to a golden brown color (about 10 minutes). Let it cool, then ground up using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.
  • Soak the 1 teaspoon of annatto seeds (aka atsuete or achiote) in 1/4 cup of hot water and let it soak for a few minutes. Strain the seeds and use the water for coloring. Use annatto seasoning as substitute if you can’t find annatto seeds.
  • Roast the peanuts on a pan for a few minutes until golden brown. Let it cool and chop into pieces for garnish.
  • Remove the tenderized meat from the pot and put on a plate. Strain the broth using cheesecloth to remove fat and other particles. You should have about 5 cups of broth; if you need more, add a cup of water to the broth (or add additional beef broth, if you have any available).
  • Heat the broth to a low simmer and mix in the creamy peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter melts. Add the annatto water or 1 seasoning packet. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Return the meat to the pot and heat for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add vegetables. Alternatively, you may serve the sauce, meat, and vegetables separately (as you see in the picture and video).
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately with rice. Garnish with the roasted peanuts and shrimp paste (aka bagoong pronounced ba-go-ong) on the side.
  • Enjoy!

Have you eaten Kare Kare? Comment below!



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