How to Make Kare-Kare (Peanut Stew)

With the help of nifty gadgets and prepared ingredients, cooking Kare-Kare can be quite easy.

What is kare-kare?

Kare-kare is a Filipino beef stew with a rich peanut sauce. Usually, a classic beef kare-kare recipe will use oxtail, tripe (tuwalya), and a variety of vegetables. Meanwhile, the sauce is thickened with ground toasted rice and peanuts, which gives it a uniquely nutty and mellow flavor that pairs well with bagoong or shrimp paste.

Traditionally, the toasted rice and peanuts were ground with an almires or mortar and pestle, and while you can definitely go old school and grind them by hand, you can also use nifty gadgets like a food processor or blenders to make cooking kare-kare easy and convenient.

Is kare-kare a beef-only stew?

One of the best things about kare-kare ingredients is that they are easy to mix and match! The peanut sauce is compatible with many ingredients, so the good news is that it's not just delicious paired with beef. If you aren't big on beef, you can also prepare kare-kare with pork, seafood, or even just vegetables.

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You can use pork hock, pork shoulder, pork belly, or pork shanks if you want pork kare-kare. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can also make kare-kare sauce to go with lechon kawali!

If you're craving for seafood, you can replace the beef with shrimp, squid, crab, or fish in your kare-kare. The sky (or sea) is the limit when it comes to seafood kare-kare!

Going vegetarian is also a healthy option, so feel free to make vegetable kare-kare with these ingredients: yardlong beans (sitaw), eggplant, squash, banana heart (puso ng saging) or pechay. 

Tips and Tricks To Improve Your Kare-Kare Recipe

If you are grinding the rice and peanuts yourself, it's easier (and tastier) to do so if the rice and peanuts are toasted or roasted first. You can toast them in a pan over low-medium heat, or in a baking tray at about 180C until they turn golden brown. Make sure to stir frequently for even browning!

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Need atsuete oil? You can make it yourself by heating up a neutral-flavored oil like canola or vegetable oil in a pot with annatto or atsuete seeds. 

Finally, don't underestimate the power of a great bagoong pairing. Whether you can make the bagoong yourself or buy your favorite brand, just make sure you have enough to go with your kare-kare!

Kare-Kare Recipe 

  • Serves 6 to 8
  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time 2 1/2 to 3 hours

Kare-Kare Ingredients 

  • 2 1/2 kilos oxtail, tripe, or beef brisket, or a combination of the 3, sliced into 2 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium white onions, quartered
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small bundle yard-long beans (sitaw), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise then cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup atsuete oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup ground rice, toasted on a dry pan (available in wet markets)
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup ground toasted peanuts
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 banana heart, 3 layers of the outer covering removed, hard stem cut out, heart halved, hard core removed, heart quartered, and soaked in water until ready to use
  • 1 bundle bok choy, leaves separated and washed
  • Shrimp paste (bagoong) and steamed rice, to serve 
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How To Make Kare-Kare

  • 1 Boil meat with onions, bay leaf, peppercorns, and enough water to cover the meat in a large casserole or Dutch oven until tender, about 2 to 21/2 hours. (You can also use a pressure cooker and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.) Set meat aside. Reserve broth and skim off fat. 
  • 2 Blanch beans in a pot of salted boiling water; set aside. Blanch eggplant in the same pot; set aside.
  • 3 Heat atsuete oil in a large pot. Sauté onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add beef and 5 cups reserved broth. (If the broth is not enough, add water to make 5 cups.) 
  • 4 In a small bowl, mix ground rice and 3 tablespoons water. Add mixture to the pot and mix well. Add peanut butter and ground peanuts. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thick.
  • 5 Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add banana heart slices and cook for 1 minute. Add beans, eggplant, and bok choy. Mix well. Serve with steamed rice and shrimp paste on the side.
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Feature by Rachelle Santos was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Yummy magazine

Photography by Dairy Darilag | Styling by Rachelle Santos


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