Oxtail Kare-Kare Recipe (Filipino Oxtail Peanut Stew)

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Kare-Kare is such an intrigue word for me when the first time I heard it. Kare (also known as kari) means curry in bahasa Indonesia. It’s hard for me to not drooling when I heard the words Oxtail Kare-Kare. I’m an oxtail lover and often looking for other recipes of oxtail beside sup buntut (oxtail soup) or sup buntut bakar (grilled oxtail soup). As I read through Ray’s recipe, I was imagining I’m eating it with sambal ulek or sambal bajak. Both sambals contain terasi (or Ray calls it bagoong) 🙂

The more I learn about Filipino culture through my coworkers and friends. The more I realize there are many similarities between Indonesian and Filipino. To bring Filipino flavour to Indonesia Eats, I have Wok Wth Ray who is very talented in cooking and photography. Please welcome Wok With Ray with his Oxtail Kare-Kare. PS. Don’t blame if you drool over his food pictures

Hi, my name is Ray Gingco of Wok with Ray It was such a great way to start the New Year getting an email from Pepy of Indonesia Eats asking me if I could guest post on her blog. When I saw the email, my jaw just dropped! It was Pepy — one of few talented food photographers that I admire! So, how can I say no, huh? To me, it’s an honor not only being invited by her but also being invited by a fellow Southeast Asian. She is Indonesian and I’m Filipino—where not only our cultures mirror each other, but our culinary arts have similarities as well. So thank you, Pepy, for your kindness and accommodation.

The dish that we are cooking today is a very popular Filipino dish that we call Kare-Kare. There are many stories behind this dish and it all depends on who you are going to ask. One would claim that it originated from Pampanga, where many consider it to be the culinary capital of the Philippines. Another would claim that it was introduced by Indian immigrants because of the word Kare (curry). And of course the story that this dish was once only served to the Moro Elites who settled in Manila before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. Once in a while it is nice to know the colorful, or sometimes even romantic, story of the dish we are serving our loved ones.

When I cook Kare Kare, I like using Ox tail (buntot ng baka) because it creates this very flavorful broth and combine it with the wonderful aroma of roasted peanuts (mani) and fresh vegetables like long beans (sitaw), eggplants (talong), baby bok choy (pechay), and annatto seeds (achiote). This dish can be prepared the old fashioned way which is the roasting and grinding of peanuts, and mashing of glutinous rice. I don’t know about you but for home cooks like me, I always go for the easier way if it will give me the same result; after all, we want to spend more time eating than cooking, don’t we? So we are going to use Kare Kare mix that is readily available in most Asian markets. Don’t use the one that has peanuts in it because we will add our own peanut butter.

Kare kare is often eaten with steamed rice with sautéed shrimp paste (bagoong) as a side dish or as a condiment. The saltiness of the shrimp paste enhances or counters if you will, the rich combination of flavors coming from ox tail and peanuts. My brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) who is a Mexican-American loves Kare Kare but he wouldn’t eat it with sautéed shrimp paste. Instead, he will eat it with either Sriracha or sambal oelek, Hahaha! Sautéed shrimp paste is very easy to prepare just make sure to open all your windows or turn that stove vent to full blast to suck out the shrimp smell aroma. ☺

So, here is the recipe for Kare Kare and I hope you enjoy this dish as my Mexican brother-in-law always says “Kain na Tayo!”—which means “Let’s Eat” in Tagalog. Thank you everyone and again, thank you Pepy for having me today!

Oxtail Kare-Kare
Filipino Meat Peanut Stew

For the Kare-kare
3 lbs Ox Tail – butcher chopped about 2 inches thick and most of the fats trimmed.
1/2 lb Chinese long beans – cut about 2 inches long
2 small Chinese eggplants – sliced to 1 inch thick
1/2 lb baby bok choy – washed and the bottom edge removed
1 package Kare-Kare stew mix – don’t use the one with peanuts.
3/4 cups unsweetened creamy peanut butter
2 quarts water (1.9 liters)
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoon annatto seeds in 1/4 cup water – for extra coloring and nutty flavor

For the Shrimp Paste Condiment
12 oz bottle Shrimp Paste (Bagoong Alamang)
1 small tomato – diced
1 small onion – diced
5 cloves garlic – minced
4 tablespoon palm vinegar
4 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoon vegetable oil

Shrimp Paste Condiment:
Place medium a pan over high heat. Add vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes then sauté for about 4 minutes or until tomatoes are almost mashed. Add shrimp paste, vinegar, and sugar.

Turn the heat to medium. Keep stirring until shrimp turns dark red (about 8 minutes). Place cooked shrimp paste in a small bowl as side dish or condiment.
Note: you may refrigerate the leftover sautéed shrimp paste for future use.

Oxtail Kare-Kare
Combine 1/4 cup water and annatto seeds in a bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes.
When the water turns red, strain over another bowl, add and mix with cornstarch then set aside. Discard the strained annatto seeds.

Add water and ox tail in a large pot. Place pot over high heat. When the water is boiling, skim and discard all the floating scum. Turn the heat down to medium, cover and let it boil until ox tail is tender. Once the oxtail is tender, stir in the peanut butter and mix thoroughly.

Ladle 2 cups of broth in a bowl. Add Kare-Kare mix in the bowl with the broth and mix thoroughly with a whisk.

Add the broth back in to the pot. Add the annatto water mix in to the pot. Still gently until mix and broth are fully combined. Add eggplant and Chinese long beans and let it simmer for about 4 minutes.
Add salt and baby bok choy and let it simmer for another 2 minutes.

Serve hot with rice and sautéed shrimp paste on the side.

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About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg Edmonton, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.