Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kare-Kare (Beef Stew in Peanut Sauce)

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Kare-kare is a stew that I remember fondly for various reasons. The first time I tried it, I really did not understand why it was such a big deal to my friends Ruby and Jane. The only thing I know was that it was way too expensive for a small pot of dish that was pretty to look at but did not carry that much flavor. Turned out the seasoning is really downplayed for a reason. It was much later that I learned how to appreciate this dish especially when we made it quite often while living in Florida. There were a few Kare kare expert cooks so I stood aside but made sure to watch keenly to learn how it was made. I was delegated to making the dessert so I also kicked them out of the kitchen when it was my time to bake.

The stew is usually prepared with ox tail or pork hocks and a favorite of ours is beef tripe. However, it can also be made with shrimp or a leaner cut of beef or pork. The stew has a thick consistency due to the addition of rice flour and ground peanuts. Peanut butter is a good way to skip the step where you pound the roasted peanuts to make peanut paste. Just be sure to get the unsweetened variety. The addition of annatto oil or annatto water renders the stew it's rich reddish yellow color. The final touch is optional since traditionally, the stew is not seasoned well with salt as I mentioned above. The flavor is usually corrected to taste by the addition of a shrimp paste condiment. However, if you don't like the taste of shrimp paste or are allergic to shrimps, you can flavor the stew to taste and do away with this step.


3-4 lbs beef, cut into large cubes
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
1 eggplant, cut into eighths
2 large pechay or bok choy, ends trimmed
1 tbsp annatto powder
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup rice flour
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cups beef broth

1.  In a large pot over medium heat, saute the garlic and onions in the olive
     oil. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until slightly

2. Add the beef pieces and season with salt and pepper. Add enough beef
    broth to cover the meat completely. Bring to a boil and simmer covered
    until tender but not falling apart.

3. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside in a bowl and cover with
    clingfilm. Transfer about half of the broth into another pot and set

4. Combine the peanut butter, rice flour and annatto powder in a bowl. Add
    enough broth to form a paste. Pour the slurry back into the pot and mix
    well and cook at medium heat until the broth has thickened. Remove from
    heat and set aside. If the peanut sauce gets too thick, you can thin this
    out later with the reserved broth after step 5 or with hot water.  

5. Prior to serving, bring the other pot with the reserved broth to a simmer
    and cook the eggplant until just tender. Add the bok choy and the beans
    next and cook until just tender and bright green.

To serve, return the beef pieces into the peanut sauce and cook until heated through. Check for flavor one last time. If you are using shrimp paste, it is okay if it tastes bland. However, if you are serving the stew as it is, correct with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, thin out with the broth used to cook the vegetables or with hot water.

Arrange the meat with the peanut sauce in a serving platter and top with the vegetables. Serve with shrimp paste if using or available. Make sure that you serve it right away as the sauce will continue to thicken the longer you let it sit.


  1. Hello,

    Thank you for the recipe. I will definitely give it a go.

    Please take the time to visit one of my sites, "

    I have posted my stew recipe on page two, "Outstanding Beef Stew" by Robert McLean.

    I think you will fall in love with my recipe and with luck a new tradition will be made in your families' lives.

    Thank you,
    Robert McLean

    1. Robert,

      Make sure you read through the steps again. I re-edited parts of them as some of the steps were a bit lacking in terms of specific directions. If you have any concerns, just e-mail me and I'll be happy to answer any question you may have.