Kare Kare is a classic Filipino slow-cook stew, usually using oxtail and/or ox tripe, with deliciously thick deep yellow peanut sauce with some vegetables. It has a very subtle taste because it is traditionally unsalted, allowing the flavors of the peanut sauce and the meat to surface and be enjoyed. It is usually served with some shrimp paste to make up for the lacking saltiness in the stew itself.
I can't believe that I haven't written about traditional Kare Kare recipe, aside from my old post on Crispy Kare Kare recipe that I wrote about some years ago. To think that it is one of my all-time favorite dishes ever. So much that more often than not, when I see it on the menu when we are eating out, you can count on it that I will order that.
Of course, there are times that I end up getting disappointed. Some of the restaurants seem to think that it is ok to use sweet peanut butter in Kare Kare. Others, who do not know any better, might even like it. But for me, this is a sacrilege to this wonderful classic dish. Up to this day, I can still remember how my Inay's (our Papa's mom) Kare Kare tasted like. My aunts' Kare Kare taste also the same, traditional and unadulterated!
I asked my Mama how Inay cooked her Kare Kare and I was blown away by the effort and amount of work she put into it. She told me that Inay would roast and grind her own peanuts and glutinous rice for the sauce. And we are talking about the manual stone grinders at this time.
Good thing though that in this day and age, you do not have to go through all that trouble and can just easily buy the ready ingredients at the market or groceries. They even offer Kare Kare mix, which I have tried but does nothing for me. Instead, I use sticky or glutinous rice flour and peanut butter. BUT (and it is a really big but) I only use unsweetened or the really lesser sweet peanut butter. I like using Skippy Creamy Peanut butter (this is not an ad, I did not get paid for this) because of its creamy texture and is not sweet at all, you may use other brands of the same quality. Skippy is, however, slightly salty so if you are to use it, skip the salt. Although I, for one, do not add any salt to the sauce just like how it was done originally.
Otherwise, you can roast and grind your own if you have a food processor at home. Or if you are in the Philippines, you can usually get peanut butter especially for Kare Kare in the markets, just ask for it. Other meats you can use for Kare Kare are pork belly, pork hocks or feet, beef chuck, beef shank, beef brisket, calves feet.
You may or may not add banana heart, although it makes it more authentic if you do. However, if done wrong, it can turn out a bit bitter and look discolored and unappetizing. To prepare banana heart prior to cooking, peel off the outer (red) layer of banana heart until you reach a white or pale-colored core. Cut the stem and discard. Slice, in half, lengthwise, and then into 4 each half. Immerse it immediately in cold water with salt and let sit for at least 20 minutes to remove the bitter sap and avoid browning. Squeeze gently with hands and rinse before adding to the pot.
- 2 pounds oxtail - cut into serving size
- 1 pound ox tripe - cut into serving size
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 medium onion - chopped
- 6 pieces yard-long beans - ends trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 small banana heart (optional) - cut and pre-soaked
- 2 medium eggplant - cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons annatto powder
- 1 cup peanut butter - less sweet or unsweetened
- ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
- ¼ cup sticky rice flour
- 3 medium pechay or bok choy
- In a pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute garlic and onion until limp and aromatic. Add the meat and sear for a minute to let the juices out.
- Pour in water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3 hours, pot covered, or until the meat becomes very tender. Add more water if needed to make sure you have at least 3 cups of stock for the sauce.
- Using a skillet over medium heat, toast sticky rice flour for a few minutes, stirring often, until it turns light brown in color. Transfer to a small bowl and add ¼ cup of water and set aside.
- Once meat is tender, add the yardlong beans, banana heart, and eggplant to the pot and cook until al dente, add the peanut butter and annatto powder. Season with salt if desired. Stir and make sure that peanut butter is completely dissolved.
- Once vegetables are cooked, gradually add the toasted rice flour mixture to the pot and mix well. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Lastly, add the pechay or bok choy and turn off the heat. Transfer to a serving pot or dish. Serve hot with steamed rice and some shrimp paste.
I thank you for your recepie better than any Filipino restaurant I’ve been to.
Howdy! I made my first attempt and it passed with flying colors!! Thank you so much
Good to hear it, Lillonaraj!
Great recipe. In terms of the "broth" do you have any special tips? I've seen other recipes using celery and carrots and straining out the solids before adding the cooked meat. I also see that people prepare this the day before to scrape off the excess fat the next day? I don't think I've seen my grandma or parents using this method. I love your site!
Hi Johhny, I know what you mean about the way others prepare their broth, you can try them of course, but my grandma would probably turn in her grave if I remove the fats! LOL! As for celery and carrots, nah, it will add some flavors for sure, but if you are a purist, you will like to leave that out. A real kare-kare is very basic and not seasoned at all to give way to the flavors of the meat and peanut sauce and only highlighted with the bagoong dip.
Try using combination of oxtail and beef tendons. A little bit pricey but it’s the best. Surely the wife will love you more. And you need not to worry about the smelly tripes.
What’s the best dish to pair with kare-kare? Crispy pata maybe?...
Yes, beef tendons would be great for Kare-kare. As to pair it with Crispy pata...why not!
Yes! Tendons are amazing with this dish
I'm back again! So I cooked this for my asawa tonight. I sauteed the onions on the stove top, added the garlic for just a minute and then browned the oxtails and then I added the oxtails, tripe, onions and garlic and covered with water in the Instant Pot for 45 minutes at high pressure and 30 minutes natural release. I then did final assembly in a large stock pot. The wife was extremely happy and just a splash of salt on the dish (no bagoong for me thanks!) made the flavor explode. Will make again! Be careful if you use a 6 qt instant pot as it will be pretty close to the maximum for pressure cooking!
Hi John, I do the same—adding a bit of salt to the stew because Armin is not a fan of bagoong as well. Thanks for your version of cooking in Instant Pot. Will try it too!
Hi Bebs! I love how tasty your recipes are. I just wanna ask if I'm going to use beef chuck, how much would I need for this recipe?
Hi Peachy, for the same servings about 1.5 to 2 pounds should do it.
Malou Morales says
Finally! I found someone who shares my thought about using sweet peanut butter. Been wanting to cook ox tail kare-kare for a while now but can't find the sugar-free brand i'm using before, would definitely try Skippy's. Using store-bought shrimp paste is no-no as well because i find them too sweet. Some are adding sugar to this dish and it makes me cringe.
Hi Malou, can"t agree with you more! 🙂
American foods have so much sugar I them.... and yes store bought bagoong isn’t great. It either tastes sweet or vinegary - yuk!
Cecilia Ching says
Hello. I get varied results when I boil the oxtail, sometimes the skin plumps up (or expands) nicely which gives a soft, a little chewy and gelatine-y texture to the bite, but sometimes it doesn't. Can't figure out. Any tips? Thanks a lot! ?
Hi Cecilia, it sometimes depends on how old the cattle was. Some, usually the older ones, may take a longer time to cook to get it really tender.
Linda Romero says
Hi Bebs, re kare-kare recipe. For the meat, I will boil it first in water with vinegar and ginger for a few minutes to remove the smell, then discard the water and ginger. Then add a new fresh water and continue cooking it till it becomes tender. Hope this helps.
Hi Linda, thanks so much for your tip. Although, I usually find that there is no need to do this especially if the oxtail and tripe are fresh or well handled and I do not want to waste the flavor by throwing the first boil. Washing them thoroughly is usually enough but that is me. Maybe for others who find the smell too intense then this is a good solution. ?
May Lim says
Re: Removing the smell. Instead of doing a first boil and discarding of water, you can soak the the tripe and ox tail in cold water for at least an hour and the smell is gone. We do this on pork hocks too and it works. Just a tidbit. 🙂
Thanks for the tip May Lin!