Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Last Night's Dinner #38: Kare Kare (Oxtail & Peanut Stew)

Kare Kare (Oxtail & Peanut Stew) served over Jasmine rice

The Americans have Mac & Cheese, the Brits have Fish & Chips and the Filipinos... well, we have Kare-Kare [kha-reh - kha-reh] - the ultimate comfort food. Chunky meat, so tender it falls off the bones; peanut butter sauce, a creamy balance of sweet and savory; and fresh vegetables to make you feel a little better about devouring chunks of deliciously fatty meat laced with a cup of peanut butter sauce.

Kare-Kare is a thick and hearty stew traditionally made from oxtail, ground peanuts and a variety of vegetables (e.g. eggplant, bok choy, string beans). Seasoned with anatto seeds (gives it its rich color) and fish sauce. Oh and I'm not sure about where it gets its name from, like most things - Filipinos love to double up on names (not to mention calling you by a nickname that doesn't even make sense). For instance, my cousin Manuel is called "Jon-Jon" - don't ask. Anyway, one theory is that it comes from a corruption of the word curry and that it evolved from the cooking of Indians who settled in the Philippines many many years ago.

I slow boiled the meat for about 3-4 hours (the longer the better) and blanched the eggplant (10 mins) and bok choy (1 minute)

My eldest sister Cheryl is the best cook in the family (contrary to what my other sister Cecile says). We recently had a family reunion in Illinois this summer and I scheduled in some cooking lessons with the "pro". Like most natural cooks, Cheryl does not have exact measurements for any of her recipes. So you can just imagine how difficult it is to get a recipe from her on the phone or via email "just add a little" - umm, would that be a tablespoon or a cup? So, that's why it was so important for me to sit and watch her cook my favorite dishes so that I can jot down exactly what she means by "a little bit".

I promised Cheryl that I would keep her secrets so I'll be true to my word and will not divulge her Kare Kare recipe and techniques. If you really really want it, send me an email and I'll see what I can do ;-)

But here are some helpful images and I also found two recipes that are pretty close! (rice powder optional and you can also substitute anatto powder if you can't find seeds) (add anatto powder after step 5)


Tom said...

That Kare Kare looks yummy yummy. A classy Filipino establishment coming to a city near you! We will have a very serious conversation about this (next family reunion)?

Take Kare Kare,

Tom Tom

AW said...

mmm. looks good. i can't believe there's something else that taste just as good with peanut butter besides pb&j!!

Which reminds me... what about the other all time great filipino comfort food, SINIGANG!! especially on a cold rainy night like yesterday it would've been perfect! mm mm!

Karen said...

can i just say...BAGOONG!!!

Tanya Regala said...

Hi !

Your kare kare looks really delicious!

I'm collecting a list of the best kare kare recipes in my blog, and I included your kare kare recipe (just a link though, hope you don't mind). You can see it at

Keep in touch!