Kare Kare is a type of Filipino stew with a rich and thick peanut sauce. It is a popular dish in the Philippines served during special occasions. The traditional recipe is composed of ox tail. There are instances wherein both ox tripe and tail are used. The vegetable components of the dish are string beans, eggplant, bok choy, and banana blossoms. Lightly browned toasted ground rice is used to thicken the sauce.
Palayok or clay pot is used to cook this dish. It also functions as the serving bowl at the same time.The best way to eat kare-kare is to pair it with plain white rice. Bagoong alamang or fermented shrimp paste completes the dish by providing flavor. Simply combine a spoonful of rice and kare-kare with a small portion of bagoong and enjoy!
There are several versions of kare-kare. The most common difference of each has something to do with the meat ingredient. We now know that the traditional protein used for this dish is oxtail. Tripe is also a good ingredient to use. There are also versions that make use of other types of meat, and even seafood.
What is Beef Kare-kare?
The traditional version can be considered beef kare-kare. This mainly pertains to versions that use cuts of beef. The ones using beef chuck, beef shank, and Maskara ng Baka or cartilage from the cow’s face are all considered beef kare-kare.
What is Seafood Kare Kare?
Shrimp, crab, mussels, and squid are seafood. There is a version which incorporates all of these ingredients. It is referred to as seafood kare-kare. Fish can also be used.
What is Pata Kare-kare?
Pata refers to pig leg or pork hock. It is the second popular ingredient next to oxtail. People are using this cut of meat because it is cheaper than beef and works well with the other ingredients. I like pata in my kare kare. The thick and tasty sauce complements the tender meat and fat of the pata. It is delicious! Browse our recipe for pata kare kare.
How to Cook Kare Kare
Let’s talk about how I cooked the version in this recipe post. There are three main processes: tenderize the meat, make the sauce, and prepare the vegetables.
Prepare the meat by boiling it along with chopped onion. This will make it tender while providing flavor at the same time. Oxtail needs to be very tender for best results. It takes around 3 hours to boil when cooking using the traditional method. A quicker way is to use a pressure cooker. It cuts the cooking time by more than half.
The peanut sauce can make or break your dish. It is important to have the proper ratio of ingredients to be able to achieve the ideal consistency of the sauce. It should not be too thick or very thin. I use both peanut butter and crushed peanuts to make the sauce. It provides a rich flavor to it. Annatto seeds make the color of the sauce reddish. You will need to extract the color from the seed by soaking it in warm water for around 12 minutes. The colored water is used to make the dish, not the seed. Discard the seed after use. Thicken the sauce with toasted ground rice.
Vegetable is an important component of kare kare. It can be cooked with the meat or it can be added when serving the dish. I opted to cook the vegetables separately by sautéing with garlic.
Use a pressure cooker to quickly tenderize the oxtail. It takes me 30 minutes to achieve the result, compared to around 3 hours when done the traditional way.
Make sure to monitor the amount of water when boiling using the traditional method. Pour more water as needed until the meat tenderizes completely.
Bagoong alamang or shrimp paste is an essential component of the dish. It should be cooked completely before serving. Refer to this bagoong recipe for guidance. You can also purchase precooked bottled bagoong alamang from the supermarket.
I almost tried every meat in cooking Kare-Kare. Oxtail, pata, cow’s face or maskara, and tripe are my favorites.
Toasted ground rice is traditionally used to thicken the sauce. This ingredient is nice to have. You can use cornstarch or potato starch as alternatives.
Annatto comes in many form. Annatto powder or annatto paste can be used a substitute for the seed. These are also more convenient to use.
Try this Kare Kare recipe and let me know what you think.
- 3 lbs oxtail cut in 2 inch slices you an also use tripe or beef slices
- 1 piece small banana flower bud sliced
- 1 bundle pechay or bok choy
- 1 bundle string beans cut into 2 inch slices
- 4 pieces eggplants sliced
- 1 cup ground peanuts
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup shrimp paste
- 34 Ounces water about 1 Liter
- 1/2 cup annatto seeds soaked in a cup of water
- 1/2 cup toasted ground rice
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 piece onion chopped
- salt and pepper
- In a large pot, bring the water to a boil
- Put in the oxtail followed by the onions and simmer for 2.5 to 3 hrs or until tender (35 minutes if using a pressure cooker)
- Once the meat is tender, add the ground peanuts, peanut butter, and coloring (water from the annatto seed mixture) and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes
- Add the toasted ground rice and simmer for 5 minutes
- On a separate pan, saute the garlic then add the banana flower, eggplant, and string beans and cook for 5 minutes
- Transfer the cooked vegetables to the large pot (where the rest of the ingredients are)
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Serve hot with shrimp paste. Enjoy!
Emma Reynolds says
Hi there; just out of curiosity; what is toasted ground rice ; is it rice flour ?
Vanjo Merano says
Hello Emma, it is ground glutinous rice flour (in form of powder) toasted in a pan until the color turns light brown.
Can achuete be substituted fir annatto?
Vanjo Merano says
Both are the same ingredients.
Do you have a substitute with annatto seeds?
Vanjo Merano says
Annatto powder is a good substitute.
Thanks for this recipe!
Melody Sacpopo says
What is 1 banana flower bud? Like literally just 1 of the tiny buds?
I agree! That’s what I did.
Rubi Custodio says
If I may, I would suggest tenderizing the meat the night before. The meat and the broth are then refrigerated, separately, overnight. The next day, the layer of fat can easily be removed from the top of the broth. Yes, it means a longer process, but it’s healthier and it doesn’t diminish the flavour at all.
Jay Atienza says
If we are using the Annatto powder instead of the seeds how much should we be using in the recipe?
Vanjo Merano says
You can start with 1 teaspoon. Add more if you want the sauce to be vibrant.