These Are The Veggies You Can Mix Into Kare-Kare Sauce

These are delicious when simmered in peanut sauce.

IMAGE Shutterstock

One of the best things about the kare kare is the peanut sauce it's simmered in. This peanut sauce is thick, creamy, and extra delicious, especially when paired with bagoong or fermented shrimp paste.  

The sauce is thickened with peanuts but it is also thick because of the ground-up rice. These two combine to create a thick, hearty sauce that can stand up on its own. That's why even when the beef or pork chunks are all gone, it' still a delight to spoon the sauce over rice or simmer more vegetables in the sauce just to make sure not a single drop is wasted!     

If you are as big a fan of the peanut sauce of the kare-kare recipe, here's a list of vegetables that pair well with it:    

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Eggplant or Talong 

This classic ingredient to a kare kare pot is a spongy vegetable that easily absorbs the nutty flavors of the sauce. While eggplants are usually just tossed into the pot with the other vegetables, if you want more flavor from your talong, frying the cut-up pieces until a shade or two beyond golden brown is a great way of introducing some smokiness to the dish.          

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Sitaw or Yard Long Beans 

Another classic ingredient in the kare-kare, the sitaw or yard-long beans is delicious when cooked when its still crisp and has a bite to its pod. While many say that greens are best when it still has that crunch, sitaw is still delicious when overcooked, too. The tender pods become easier to eat and since its also softer, the pieces soak in the peanut sauce better in its length, making it tastier to eat.     

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Pechay or Bok Choy

If you have ever wondered what the difference is between pechay and bok choy, don't. It's actually the same. Both are a variety of Chinese cabbage that doesn't grow as a head like other cabbages. The difference is in the kind. The two do look similar but there's a difference: take a look at the stems. If the stems are green, it's pechay or bok choy. It's also known as the Shanghai bok choi. If the stems are white, it's what is known as pechay Tagalog

No matter which variety of pechay you grab, you can use either kind in your kare-kare, and it will be just as delicious, too.  

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Puso ng Saging and Banana Blossoms 

Puso ng saging or banana heart is an edible part of the banana plant that grows on the end of the banana fruit branch. However, it can be tedious to prepare. You can buy the banana blossoms preserved in salt in your local supermarket or you can get the fresh kind.

If you have the fresh version, you will have to prepare it. This can come in two kinds: the red-purple banana heart that has a point and more bulbous end or the white banana heart which is more long and pointed than round. The red-purple heart will yield banana blossoms. These blossoms are edible but you do need to remove the outing covering (which is tough) and the center pistil. It looks like a matchstick with a long stem and a slightly bulbous end. It tastes bitter. 

The red-purple leaves are discarded until you reach the center of the heart: the pale yellow or white heart. Have a bowl of water at the ready because once you start cutting up the tender heart, it's going to start turning brown or oxidizing. You also need to soak it free of the bitter sap that oozes when you cut it up. Once cut up and soaked, it's ready to be added into your kare-kare.    

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Okra or Ladyfingers

Okra has a reputation for being slimy but there are three ways to prevent that:

  1. 1 Cook okra with tomatoes or another acidic ingredient. The acid is said to cut through the okra's texture.  
  2. 2 Simmer okra into soup, the consistency of which becomes thicker. (Think sour sinigang soup with okra.) 
  3. 3 Fry okra over high heat until golden brown. 

In this case, you can use the okra to help thicken the peanut sauce even further or better, yet just serve it simply steamed with the peanut sauce drizzle on top. 

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Kalabasa or Squash  

This may not be a classic ingredient to add to a kare-kare dish but think about it. Peanuts can be sweet and it's delicious. The kalabasa's sweetness is just a reflection of the sweetness you might have if you used the popular natural peanut butter you can buy at almost any sari-sari store and supermarket.

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Instead, the kalabasa gives the kare-kare its own brand of sweetness that's more subtle and a tasty flavor pairing for the peanut sauce.   

Really. The kare-kare doesn't need meat to be delicious! Try making the kare-kare sauce and then pairing it with any of these vegetables for a satisfying meal without the guilt.  

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.


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