Kare Kare (Beef Stew in Peanut Sauce)

Traditionally, Kare-Kare is made of oxtail and tripe. However, each recipe varies from family to family, and there is no "exclusive" set of ingredients to make this hearty dish.

This was my first time to try making Kare-Kare from scratch. Normally, I just use a store-bought peanut sauce mix but the taste is different from the one I grew up with. Not in a bad way, but I thought it was kind of sweeter than what my mom used to make. So I did the inevitable - I made it with good old-fashioned natural peanut butter. I must say, I felt like I hit the Kare-Kare jackpot. It was thick, perfect, and delicious. Now if I can only say the same about the store-bought shrimp paste I used...

What you need:

1 pound beef sirloin, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
1/2 head of garlic
1/2 medium onion
6 pieces baby bok choy, lower part trimmed
1/4 head of cabbage
1/2 cup cut green beans
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/2 cup beef stock

What to do:

In a pot, boil the beef in enough water for an hour or so, till it is tender. Remove the scum as it rises. Strain and keep the beef stock.

Heat the oil in a pot. Saute the garlic and onions for around 30 seconds. Add the meat, cook for a minute, then pour in all the stock and the cornstarch mixture. You may also add the green beans and cabbage, as they cook longer. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then add the remaining vegetables. Continue simmering for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the peanut butter and about 1/2 cup of the hot stock. Add it to the pot and stir well to blend. Let cook for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Adjust taste according to preference by adding salt. Serve with hot rice and shrimp paste.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Try other veggies with it like eggplant or banana bud
2. Some recipes add a bit of all-purpose cream to make it thicker and creamier.
3. Traditional kare-kare uses oxtail and tripe. I used beef sirloin for this "Western" version.
4. If you want a reddish tint to the sauce, use annatto (atsuete) seeds soaked in hot water.
5. Instead of corn starch, use rice flour to thicken the stock.
6. Best if you use natural peanut butter as it is less sweet.
7. *Updated 6/23/2010* Use beef broth and/or water to boil the beef, as it would add more flavor to the dish.


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