Special occasions call for unique and festive dishes. A dish that symbolizes abundance and merrymaking, a cuisine that shouts festive not only by its looks but also because of the choice of ingredients for making it, this featured recipe symbolizes.
And Filipinos have a wide array of culinary offerings that signifies festivities, foods that make our eyes glimmer and our bellies hungry in anticipation. Filipino cuisine is so diverse that it has different dishes for all kinds of occasions: some foods are served especially for weddings, dishes intended for feasts, and even treats specifically for funeral wakes.
But for today’s article, we will be featuring cuisine that is famous not only in the Philippines but also in other parts of the globe. Its fame is undeniable: you can grab them for an affordable price at roadside eateries or even enjoy them in restaurants; that’s how popular this dish is.
So let us not prolong this chit-chat, and let’s go straight ahead in sharing with you the things that you need to learn in cooking this very savory and delicious dish that won the hearts of many: allow us to share with you how to cook the best Beef Kare-Kare in the comforts of your home.
What is Beef Kare-Kare (Filipino crispy stew in peanut sauce recipe)
Sunday Filipino lunches, especially from the days past, are always like a small reunion. Family members get together, often bringing with them their specialty dishes. Many of us grew up with this kind of setup, and it made us fall in love with our cuisines ever since.
One of these dishes is our featured recipe, the Beef Kare-kare: a stew made traditionally with oxtail or tripe, with a creamy sauce made of roasted and ground peanuts. Others resort to using unsweetened peanut butter to achieve that creamy texture of the sauce.
We can often see this dish paired with Bagoong alamang, a fermented condiment made from small shrimps, often sauteed with lots of garlic and vinegar, making it a perfect pair for the slightly overall taste of Beef Kare-kare. Blanched vegetables such as eggplant and pechay can often be seen as an addition to the Kare-kare as they complement and balance the sauce’s richness.
There are a few historical claims as to how this peanut-based stew got its name. The first one is that our Moro brothers, who came from the South of the country who settled in Manila, brought the dish.
The next one, which is the closest to the claim, is that this came from the Sepoys, Indian conscripts of the British army during the British occupation in the Philippines. They are known for making curry, a traditional Indian dish. They made one using ingredients available in the country and called it kari-kaari, which came from the word kari, meaning “curry.”
Although the origin and history are debatable up to now, one truth remains for this dish: Beef Kare-kare will continue to win the hearts of the next generation of Filipinos and the other parts of the world.
Ways to Cook
The traditional way of cooking Beef Kare-kare is using palayok or clay pot, a cooking pot made of earthenware and porous ceramic material. Palayok can keep the food’s heat for a more extended period and does not affect the dish’s overall taste.
But as time went by, technology made its way to the kitchen, bringing forth new kitchenware that made cooking even more convenient and faster than the usual but without compromising the quality of the food.
And if you happen to have this kitchen equipment, you’re in luck because we have some ways of cooking Beef Kare-kare other than the traditional method. See which one suits your lifestyle better.
The instant pot, the upgraded cousin of our mother’s ever-reliable pressure cooker: their partner when cooking tough pieces of meat that will be needing hours and hours of cooking without the good, old pressure cooker.
The cooking principle using the instant pot is basically the same as its older cousin: the pressure build-up inside the cookware makes the boiling point of water go beyond its 110 degrees threshold, thus creating a higher temperature environment that cooks food quicker. And since there’s no evaporation, the flavors are trapped and concentrated inside.
But the significant difference is that the Instant Pot is not just limited to just pressure cooking. You can use this cookware to slow-cook foods, saute ingredients in it, and even cook rice in it. That is why this cookware is very versatile, making it the perfect partner for cooking Beef Kare-kare.
Since this is an upgraded version of a pressure cooker, you can use it to tenderize the beef parts you will be using for your Beef Kare-kare. Just the beef cuts in the pot, and cook it for about 15-30 minutes, depending on the cuts’ toughness.
After ensuring that the beef cuts are tender, you can scoop them out of the instant pot: set aside the broth for later. Saute the beef cuts with the aromatics until the aromatics are tender, then add in the broth, the annatto liquid, and the vegetables.
Add the coconut milk last and let the instant pot do its magic of cooking the Beef Kare-kare. The instant pot can also keep the dish warm.
The slow cooker is a friend of folks who are into foods that are simmered. The slow cooker uses low but consistent amounts of heat, which moves from the bottom of the pot to the top of the cooker, which then moves around the cookware.
The good thing about a slow cooker is that it saves you a lot of cooking time since you can just throw in all the ingredients needed for the components and leave it in the cooker and let it do its magic. Slow cooking is beneficial in the sense that it preserves and concentrates the flavors inside the ingredients. It also keeps the moisture of the food since the steam cannot escape from the pot.
Since you can leave the ingredients inside the slow cooker, just prepare the ingredients beforehand. You can boil and tenderize the beef cuts for the Beef Kare-kare, but that would defeat the purpose of using the slow cooker.
Put in all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the order of their toughness: once they are tender, then put in all the rest of the components that take a shorter amount of time to cook. Add in the coconut milk in the last part.
Do not worry about overcooking the dish since the cooker relies on low yet consistent temperature, thus avoiding burning the food put into it.
The ever-trustworthy cooking partner of our moms and grandmothers, this trusted kitchenware never fails to accomplish its purpose of tenderizing, which will really take time when cooked using a regular cooking pot. The pressure cooker is what its name implies, using pressure to cut down food cooking time.
Pressure cooker raises the boiling temperature of food beyond its boiling point, creating steam pressure that cooks food faster than the usual cooking period. Using a pressure cooker is suggested especially when cooking tough cuts of meat like oxtail.
Tenderize the beef cuts first and use the broth that is left behind when tenderizing beef as they contain the concentrated flavors of the beef. Then proceed with cooking as indicated in the recipe, making sure not to overcook the vegetables. The coconut milk can be added last to avoid curdling the milk.
The majority of Filipino households use a stovetop for their cooking needs. Compared to other cooking methods, stovetop cooking is way more affordable and readily available.
Others use the electric stovetop, while most rely on gas-powered stovetop cookers, but both function the same. And any type of cooking can be used on it, but we recommend that you use a heavier and more durable pot for cooking Beef Kare-kare.
Proceed with the cooking of the ingredients, as indicated in the recipe. Make sure to pre-boil the beef cuts to ensure that they will be cooked adequately with the ingredients. Use whatever cookware is available at your disposal.
Other Delicious Variants
The fame of Beef Kare-kare is so widespread that a lot of variations for the dish are available. Others have come up with seafood versions or even a vegetarian version of it -- one that does not have any meat on it. That’s how unique and versatile this dish is.
And hey, as a treat, we have also included a list of some famous variants of Beef Kare-kare that you can try cooking at home. And who knows, you might even be able to come up with your very own variant of it.
Kare-Kare with Garlic Rice Recipe
The best way to start your day is to chow down on a very savory and hearty breakfast that fuels you and wakes up your senses. Nothing beats the aroma of a heaping plate of newly cooked garlic rice in the morning and a bowl of very creamy and savory Beef Kare-kare; every spoonful is like a bite of heaven.
Garlic rice is simply fried rice with lots of fried garlic in it: and its aroma is sure to wake you up and make you sit down at the dining table and ask for more. And for a better result of garlic rice, we recommend that you use leftover rice: the reason behind this is that leftover rice gets more firm, making it easier to separate and reduces the chance of having a bowl of mushy fried rice.
Prepare the Beef Kare-kare the usual way or as indicated in the recipe. Then you can make the garlic rice on a plate with the kare-kare on the side, served with a teaspoon of your favorite blend of bagoong.
Kare-Kare with Coconut Milk Recipe
Beef Kare-kare is already creamy on its own, thanks to the sauce made thick by the peanut butter and ground, roasted peanuts. This gives the Kare-kare its distinctive thick and full-bodied sauce.
And coconut milk makes this savory treat taste even better. After all, any dish with an addition of coconut milk is sure to be a treat. And since the Philippines is a tropical country, it is naturally dotted with coconut trees; no wonder many of our dishes use coconut milk.
Cooking this variant is relatively simple, and though it may sound intimidating, you can nail this one. You simply have to follow the recipe and add the coconut milk a few minutes before turning off the heat. This allows for the coconut milk to retain its flavors but still adds to the dish’s overall taste and consistency.
Crispy Beef Kare Kare Recipe
Innovation and variations, especially in food, are endless. New variants of already famous and well-loved dishes make their way to the culinary spotlight from time to time. In recent years, savory and sauce-based dishes are being served in a deconstructed manner: meaning they are being done differently than the usual.
This Beef Kare-kare variant is just that. Deconstructed and served gourmet-style. It may seem fancy and all, but serving this to your loved ones is easy and does not need much preparation.
Tenderize the beef cuts first by boiling them in salted water and slice them to about an inch thick pieces. Then deep-fry them until crisp. Then make the peanut sauce as indicated in the recipe, and serve it separately in a bowl along with the blanched vegetables.
Did you know that the first protein used for Kare-kare is not cattle nor pork? Based on historical claims of the Kapampangan (natives of the province of Pampanga), their version of Kare-kare uses mudfish, and the aromatics and ingredients were totally different. Instead of annatto seeds, they used turmeric for coloring and lemongrass to remove the fish’s scent.
Beef, the protein used for our Kare-kare, is rich in protein, which helps in building muscle mass. And it is also rich in antioxidants, specifically glutathione.
Knowing kitchen-tested tips is a lot of help, especially if you’re new to cooking, that is why we have some tips here that we want to share with you to become a better home cook.
- When buying coconut milk, always go for the freshly grated and pressed option instead of the powdered or canned form. This is to ensure that what you’re using is fresh.
- Always check for the color of beef: go for the bright red colored cuts. Do not pick pale-colored cuts, as this is an indicator of freshness.
- Blanch your vegetables instead of boiling them. This preserves the nutrients and color of your veggies.
If in case you encounter mishaps when cooking Beef Kare-kare, do not allow that mistake to ruin the day. We also included troubleshooting steps that you can take to remedy your kitchen dilemma.
- If the sauce is runny, you can finely ground peanuts to thicken the sauce. If there are no peanuts available, you can go ahead and mix two parts water and 1 part cornstarch to make a slurry.
- If the sauce is lackluster in flavor, add a tablespoon of fish sauce to heighten the taste.
Best Serve With
Beef Kare-kare is already a treat on its own. However, we can pair with something else to make our dining experience better. After all, we don’t always get to enjoy eating kare-kare every day; why not take the dining experience to another level, right?
This Mexican-inspired morning goodness is packed with aroma and flavors that are sure to make you ask for another serving. The spices used will excite your taste buds, making it the perfect pair for our creamy, savory, and slightly sweet Beef Kare-kare.
A light and warm soup definitely strike a balance for our creamy and savory beef offering. The corn chowder’s mild flavor cleanses the palate after every spoonful of the Beef Kare-kare, making you ask for more.
Creamy dishes sometimes give you that feeling of not wanting to take another bite of whatever food you're eating, no matter how tasty they are. That might be because of the dish’s richness; that is why a spoonful of this pickled papaya will do the trick.
The zest and the atchara’s sweetness will also help clean your palate and make you crave more of the Beef Kare-kare.
You don’t need special occasions to cook festive foods. Sometimes a feeling of generosity is enough for you to venture into the kitchen and cook that sumptuous and only-made-for-celebration kind of dish. Yes, we know that Beef Kare-kare is often seen in fiestas, but hey, your family deserves the best, and if you have the means, why not treat them for a feast even on an ordinary day.
And with all the information and tips we shared with you, we are more than confident that you will be able to cook and perfect Beef Kare-kare at home. And who knows, you might even be able to come up with your take on it.
So until next time, happy cooking!
For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!
Best Beef Kare-Kare Recipe
- 1 kg Beef meat boiled for 1 hour and cut into 3 inches in length and 2 inches wide
- 4 cloves Garlic crushed into pieces
- 1 pc Red onion big and cut into small cubes
- 1 pc Banana flower bud cut into 1-inch rounds
- 6 pcs String beans cut into 3 inches long each pc
- 2 pcs Eggplant cut into thin rounds
- 2 tablespoon Annatto seeds soaked in water
- ¼ kg Native Bok choy (pechay)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoon Oil
- ½ teaspoon Ground black pepper
- ½ cup Peanut butter unsalted
- 1 cup Coconut milk
- 4 cups Beef broth
- ½ cup Shrimp paste
- Heat oil in a large pan, saute garlic until golden brown, add onion and saute until softened.
- Now add the boiled beef meat and pour in 4 cups of beef broth into the pan. Season it with salt and ground black pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, pour in the annatto mixture (add the liquid only). Stir until boil.
- Cover the pan and boil for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, pour in the coconut milk while stirring the mixture continuously. Boil for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, add string beans and banana flower bud. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, toss in eggplant and native bok choy. Simmer again for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, transfer into a serving bowl.
- Serve with shrimp paste and enjoy!