April 15, 2012

Kare-Kare (Filipino Oxtail Stew)

Kare-Kare is a Filipino peanut-based stew with a variant of vegetables, stewed oxtail, and occasionally tripe.  This is very popular on grand celebrations and gatherings. It is considered a special dish for a special occasion. So we rarely eat this. Especially for migrants who have settled in limited or non-Asian demographic locations. For those who have a peanut allergy, please stay away from this dish. I wish I could make it peanut-free for people with allergies, but it wouldn't taste as good.  So I do apologize for that. 

My husband has been craving for Filipino dishes lately and has been asking me to recreate one. I'm not a professional cook, or even close to being one. But I could come up with a decent meal just by trying out recipes from trusted cooks in the family. Or sometimes just by googling and reading all through the reviews.  I especially pay attention to substitutions and modifications suggested by people.

But I'm pretty proud of myself last night as I duplicated our family's occasional favorites by memory with a bit help, okay lots of it, from Mama Sita Kare-Kare Peanut  Sauce Mix.  Yup! I cheated a bit to make it a grand dish for last night.  No special occasion. It's just that hubby only requested a particular meal once in a blue moon.  So I gotta make it right.  And I was successful! He liked how it tasted. I just modified a bit as per taste buds.

The Stew Base Mix that is mostly available at any Asian Supermarket.
The recipe calls for 2 lbs oxtail. If you have a pressure cooker, use it. It took me exactly 2 hours at medium heat to soften the meat. Occasionally decreasing the heat as the water overflows. If you're planning to serve it the following day, use a slow cooker instead. It's going to taste better. If you want it in pronto, then be patient to produce a great kare-kare. Watch for water volume. Add as needed. Make sure you have at least 3 cups of water for the stew. 
As soon as the stew is ready, take about a cupful and pour on a separate bowl. Add in the Kare-Kare stew rice powder mix with a 1/2 cup of JIFF Peanut Butter. JIFF is the best tasting peanut butter alternative for peanuts.  Unless you want to do it by scratch, this is the easiest and best method. Mix them till smooth in consistency. Set aside.
Test the tenderness of the oxtails. Make sure the meat slightly separates from bone when pricked with a fork in between them. That's how you would want your meat to be. Then add in string beans cut into inch, and the eggplants, cut about an inch apart diagonally and halved. Or however way you want them cut. There's no rule of thumb for that. You're eating it, so you're the boss! 
Pour in the peanut and rice mixture into the stew. Add salt according to taste. Simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are half-done. Add in bokchoy. Simmer till cooked. Make sure to stir it occasionally to prevent the peanut sauce from burning. Remove from heat. Serve with sauteed shrimp paste and steamed jasmine rice. We ate it with brown rice and we still enjoyed it like before.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Should you have any question, please comment below and I'd gladly find an answer for that. Or I can even redirect you to a better site.

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Happy cooking and have a great meal!
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