Mouthwatering Kare Kare: The Ultimate Filipino Stew

delicious filipino kare kare

Are you ready to elevate your culinary skills and become a master of the ultimate Filipino stew? Look no further than Kare Kare, a mouthwatering dish that will transport you to the vibrant flavors of the Philippines. In this article, we will unveil the secrets behind creating the perfect Kare Kare, from selecting the finest meats to grinding peanuts and toasting rice. Get ready to embark on a delectable journey and indulge in the world of Kare Kare.

Key Takeaways

  • Kare kare is a peanut-based stew with various meats and vegetables, originating from the Philippines.
  • Oxtail is traditionally used in kare kare, but other meats like tripe, pig feet, or seafood can be used.
  • Peanuts are a significant component of kare kare, providing its signature taste, and smooth peanut butter can be added to enhance the sauce.
  • Traditional vegetables in kare kare include eggplant, pechay, long string beans, and banana hearts, but additional vegetables can also be added.

The History of Kare Kare

To delve into the history of Kare Kare, let's start by tracing its origins and the influences that shaped this beloved Filipino stew. Kare Kare holds a significant cultural significance in the Philippines, often considered a dish fit for special occasions and celebrations. It is believed to have originated from the Kapampangan region, known for its rich culinary heritage. However, there are also influences from the Moro elite, who introduced the use of peanuts, and the Sepoy soldiers who brought in the concept of stew. Through time and across different regions, Kare Kare has undergone various regional variations. In the Visayas, it is known as "kinilaw na kare kare" and is served with raw fish as the main ingredient. In the Bicol region, coconut milk is added, giving it a creamy and spicy twist. Each variation showcases the versatility and adaptability of Kare Kare, making it a truly remarkable dish in Filipino cuisine.

Various Meats Used in Kare Kare

What are the different meats that can be used in Kare Kare?

When it comes to Kare Kare, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the meats you can use. Here are four variations of Kare Kare that showcase the evolution of this Filipino stew:

  • Oxtail: Traditionally used in Kare Kare, oxtail is flavorful and becomes tender when braised for a long time. It adds a rich meaty taste to the dish.
  • Tripe: For those who enjoy a unique texture, tripe can be used in Kare Kare. It adds a chewy and gelatinous element to the stew.
  • Pig feet: If you're looking for a more indulgent option, pig feet can be used. They provide a rich and fatty flavor that adds depth to the dish.
  • Seafood: For a twist on the classic Kare Kare, seafood like prawns or squid can be used. It adds a delicate and fresh taste to the stew.

These variations of meats in Kare Kare allow for a diverse range of flavors and textures, making this Filipino stew truly versatile and adaptable to different preferences. Whether you prefer the traditional oxtail or want to experiment with seafood, Kare Kare offers a delicious and satisfying experience.

Key Ingredients for Authentic Kare Kare

When making authentic Kare Kare, it is essential to include the key ingredients that give this Filipino stew its distinct flavor and character. The evolution of Kare Kare can be traced back to various cultural influences, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish loved in the Philippines and America. One of the key ingredients in Kare Kare is peanuts, which provide the stew with its signature taste. Smooth peanut butter can also be added to thicken the sauce and enhance the peanut flavor. Another important ingredient is annatto powder, which is used for its golden orange coloring. To give Kare Kare its meaty goodness, traditionally oxtail is used, but other meats like tripe or pig feet can be used as well. Searing the meat before braising adds a nice golden crust and enhances the flavor. For added depth, toasted rice powder acts as a thickener and adds complexity to the dish. Finally, the vegetables in Kare Kare, such as eggplant, pechay, long string beans, and banana hearts, complete the stew and provide a balance to the rich flavors. Blanching the vegetables before adding them to the stew ensures even cooking.

The Role of Peanuts in Kare Kare

Use a generous amount of peanuts to give Kare Kare its distinct flavor and creamy texture.

  • Peanuts are a staple ingredient in Filipino cuisine and play a significant role in Kare Kare.
  • They provide a rich and nutty taste that is unique to this traditional stew.
  • Peanuts are packed with nutrients and offer several health benefits. They are a good source of protein, healthy fats, and dietary fiber.
  • Incorporating peanuts into your Kare Kare not only adds depth of flavor but also boosts the nutritional value of the dish.
  • Culturally, peanuts hold great significance in Filipino cuisine, showcasing the country's love for bold and flavorful ingredients.
  • The use of peanuts in Kare Kare highlights the blending of indigenous and foreign influences in Filipino cooking.
  • So, when preparing Kare Kare, be sure to embrace the cultural and health benefits of peanuts, and enjoy the delicious results.

Thickening Agents in Kare Kare

To achieve the desired thickness in Kare Kare, you can incorporate various thickening agents, such as peanut butter, ground peanuts, and toasted rice powder. Peanut butter is a popular choice for adding thickness and enhancing the unique flavor of the dish. Smooth peanut butter can be used to thicken the sauce, giving it a creamy texture and a rich nutty taste. Ground peanuts, made using a powerful blender or Nutribullet, can also be used as a thickening agent. They add a robust peanut flavor and a slightly grainy consistency to the stew. Another alternative is toasted rice powder, which not only acts as a thickener but also adds complexity to the dish. It is important to experiment with different thickening techniques and alternative ingredients to find the perfect balance of flavors and consistency in your Kare Kare.

Traditional Vegetables in Kare Kare

To add a vibrant array of flavors and textures to your Kare Kare, incorporate a variety of traditional vegetables into the stew. These vegetables not only add color and freshness to the dish but also contribute to its overall taste and appeal. Here are four traditional vegetables that you can include in your Kare Kare:

  • Eggplant: Adds a silky texture and absorbs the rich flavors of the stew.
  • Pechay: Provides a subtle bitterness and a delicate crunch.
  • Long string beans: Adds a vibrant green color and a satisfying snap.
  • Banana hearts: Adds a unique and slightly tangy flavor to the stew.

When using banana hearts, it is important to prevent discoloration by soaking them in lemon or lime water. This simple step helps maintain their vibrant color and ensures they remain visually appealing in your Kare Kare. So go ahead and experiment with these traditional vegetables to create a truly mouthwatering and authentic Kare Kare experience.

Tips for Making Budget-Friendly Kare Kare

If you're looking to make Kare Kare on a budget, consider incorporating these money-saving tips. One budget-friendly alternative is to use creative meat options. Instead of using expensive cuts like oxtail, you can opt for more affordable options like beef shanks. Searing the meat before braising adds flavor and a nice golden crust. Another tip is to cut the additional meat into similar sizes to ensure even cooking. This will help you stretch your budget without sacrificing taste. To enhance the peanut flavor without breaking the bank, you can add smooth peanut butter to thicken the sauce. Lastly, blanching the vegetables before adding them to the stew ensures they are all cooked evenly. With these tips, you can enjoy a delicious and budget-friendly Kare Kare.

Tips for Making Budget-Friendly Kare Kare
Use creative meat options like beef shanks instead of oxtail
Sear the meat before braising for added flavor
Cut the additional meat into similar sizes to ensure even cooking

Grinding Peanuts and Rice for Kare Kare

When grinding peanuts and rice for Kare Kare, the process involves blending the ingredients to create a smooth and creamy texture. Achieving the perfect consistency is crucial in making this delectable Filipino stew. Here are some grinding techniques and alternative thickeners to enhance your Kare Kare experience:

  • Use a powerful blender like a Nutribullet to grind the peanuts and rice to the desired consistency. This ensures a silky smooth texture.
  • Toasted rice powder can act as an alternative thickener, adding complexity to the dish while maintaining its traditional flavor.
  • Experiment with different grinding techniques to achieve your preferred level of smoothness. Some prefer a slightly chunkier texture for added texture and bite.
  • Consider using alternative thickeners like cornstarch or arrowroot powder if you prefer a gluten-free option or want to experiment with different flavors.

Mastering the art of grinding peanuts and rice opens up a world of possibilities in creating the ultimate Kare Kare experience. So grab your blender and get ready to elevate your stew to new heights!

Blanching Vegetables for Perfect Kare Kare

Blanch the vegetables for perfect Kare Kare by following these simple steps. Start by preparing the banana hearts, which can be obtained by peeling the tough outer layers of banana flowers. To prevent discoloration, soak the banana hearts in lemon or lime water. Blanching the vegetables before adding them to the stew ensures even cooking. It involves briefly boiling them in salted water and then immediately transferring them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. This technique helps retain their vibrant colors and crisp textures. Additionally, blanching removes any bitterness and enhances the flavors of the vegetables. Another important aspect of Kare Kare is the significance of annatto powder. This golden orange powder adds a beautiful hue to the dish and contributes to its overall visual appeal. By blanching the vegetables and incorporating annatto powder, you can achieve the perfect Kare Kare with tender, flavorful vegetables and a vibrant, appetizing appearance.

Serving and Enjoying Kare Kare

To fully experience the deliciousness of Kare Kare, serve the stew hot and accompanied by a side of bagoong, a fermented shrimp paste that adds a savory punch to each bite. Here are some serving techniques and popular variations to elevate your Kare Kare experience:

  • Serve Kare Kare in a traditional ceramic or clay pot to keep it warm and retain its flavors.
  • Garnish the stew with chopped peanuts for added texture and visual appeal.
  • Pair Kare Kare with steamed white rice to balance out the richness of the stew.
  • For a twist on the classic recipe, try using different meats like chicken, pork, or even tofu to cater to different dietary preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is Kare Kare Traditionally Served and Enjoyed?

Traditionally, kare kare is served with bagoong (shrimp paste) and enjoyed with steamed rice. The dish itself is a rich and flavorful stew made with peanuts, annatto powder, and various meats like oxtail or beef. The meat is braised until tender, and the vegetables, such as eggplant and string beans, are blanched for even cooking. The combination of the savory stew, the tangy shrimp paste, and the fluffy rice creates a mouthwatering experience that is truly satisfying.

Can Kare Kare Be Made With Seafood Instead of Meat?

Why stick to meat when you can dive into the ocean for a seafood twist on kare kare? Seafood alternatives like shrimp, squid, or fish can be used, adding a delightful taste to the dish. Not only does seafood bring a unique flavor, but it also offers health benefits. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein, seafood in kare kare promotes heart health and boosts your overall well-being. So, why not make a splash and give seafood kare kare a try?

Are There Any Vegetarian or Vegan Variations of Kare Kare?

Looking for a vegetarian twist or vegan alternatives to kare kare? You're in luck! There are several ways to enjoy this mouthwatering Filipino stew without meat. Instead of using oxtail or beef, you can substitute it with tofu or tempeh for a protein-packed option. For a vegan alternative, skip the shrimp paste and use miso or soy sauce for added umami. Add a variety of vegetables like eggplant, bok choy, and green beans for a hearty and flavorful vegetarian kare kare.

What Are Some Common Side Dishes or Accompaniments to Serve With Kare Kare?

Looking for the perfect side dish to serve with kare kare? Well, you're in luck! There are a variety of popular options that complement this mouthwatering Filipino stew. Some common choices include steamed rice, bagoong (shrimp paste), and achara (pickled vegetables). These condiments add a burst of flavor to the rich and creamy kare kare. Additionally, you can also serve it with grilled vegetables or a refreshing side salad for a well-rounded meal. So go ahead and indulge in this delicious dish, knowing you've got the perfect accompaniments!

Can Kare Kare Be Made in Advance and Reheated?

Yes, Kare Kare can be made in advance and reheated, which has its advantages. Meal prepping Kare Kare allows the flavors to develop and intensify over time, making it even more delicious when reheated. To ensure the best results, store the stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When reheating, do it slowly over low heat to prevent the sauce from breaking or becoming too thick. Stir occasionally to distribute the heat evenly. Enjoy your flavorful Kare Kare leftovers!


As you take your final bite of Kare Kare, the flavors dance on your palate, leaving you with a sense of fulfillment and contentment. This Filipino stew is not just a dish, but a metaphor for life's journey – a fusion of history, tradition, and love. The tender meats, the creamy peanut sauce, and the vibrant vegetables all come together to create a culinary masterpiece that transports you to the heart of the Philippines. So, savor each spoonful and let Kare Kare take you on a truly unforgettable culinary adventure.


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