Kare-Kare (Oxtail stew)
We Filipinos are not known to be squanderers, no wonder we don’t waste any part of any meat we cook. We find ways to incorporate every exotic part, commonly thrown away in European countries, and use it as key ingredients to delicious dishes.
Kare-Kare dish is a good example of how frugal we Filipinos are. It’s a stew made from thick peanut sauce, vegetables, and odd part of a cow: oxtail. Sometimes I use a clay pot to cook this dish and after cooking use it as a serving pot too! It’s a traditional way of cooking this special stew in the Philippines and it makes me feel closer to home.
For first timers, you might hesitate trying out Kare-Kare because of its strange orange thick soup andweird cow bits. Don’t let the look deceive you! In the Philippines, Kare-Kare is something of a specialty, cooked on special occasions and celebrations and served to the whole family. Eating Kare-Kare is definitely a gastronomic experience.
Lots of cookbooks I read say Kare-Kare is from the province of Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines. But in a more historical perspective, some historians say Kare-Kare is one of the regal dishes of the Moro elite that resided in Manila before the Spaniards arrived. Regardless of its origin, Kare-Kare has become part of the unique Filipino cuisine.
Photo source: Ian Lee flickr
If you want to cook Kare-Kare on your special occasion, or simply want to try it out as a main course for a meal, then don’t worry because I’m here to teach you!
- 500 grams of oxtail, cut into 2-inch slices
- 1 bundle of pechay or bok choy
- 1 bundle of string beans, cut 2-inch long
- 3 pieces eggplant, cut into 2-inch slices
- 1 cup of peanut butter
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 liter of water
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- ¼ cup shrimp paste
For your convenience, you can ask the butcher to cut the oxtail for you.
The first thing you want to do is cook the oxtail. Thoroughly wash the oxtail and put it in a pressure cooker with a liter of water. Cook it for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. When the 30 minutes is up, set the oxtail aside. Don’t throw away the broth! You still have a use for that later.
In a big pot, put in oil and sauté the garlic and onion until they turn golden brown. If you have a clay pot, go ahead and use it to complete the Kare-Kare experience! Add the oxtail in the pot, but don’t add the broth for now.
Put in the salt and pepper and stir-fry the oxtail for five minutes. After that, you can finally add the broth and peanut butter. Make sure to stir the peanut butter thoroughly in its container before adding it in the pot!
photo source: dmquickandeasy.com
Stir and simmer until the sauce thickens before adding the string beans and eggplant into the stew. Simmer it for another three minutes while stirring occasionally.
Once the three minutes is up, add in the pechay. Simmer for another two minutes or until all vegetables are cook. Once cooked, set the pot aside.
But hold on friends, we’re not done yet! We still have the shrimp paste to cook.
Shrimp paste or bagoong makes Kare-Kare extra special.
In a pan, add oil and sauté two cloves of finely chopped garlic until golden brown. Add the shrimp paste and stir-fry it for only three minutes and you’re done!
Serve Kare-Kare with rice. Happy eating!
Tita Kathy’s tip:
Don’t forget to add the shrimp paste on the side and mix a small portion on your serving once you’re ready to eat. Try to experiment and use other meat aside from the oxtail and tell usabout it atthe comment box below. I found out that beef tripe and beef chunks are great alternatives to the oxtail!