21 Jun2006


I was rather surprised that kare-kare (oxtail and peanut stew) would make the Top3 favorite Pinoy dishes of Market Manila’s readers. I have never been a huge fan of the dish but I decided I should try and make it myself and give it another chance. After reading up on the dish and reviewing at least 6 different recipes, I decided to try and make what I would consider to be the ultimate kare-kare. The first task was to assemble the ingredients that I would schlep to the beach where I was planning to test the recipe last Saturday. The four key ingredients I found just happened to be rather photogenic in a red and burgundy theme so I thought I would put them together in this post before I actually described the recipe and outcome… First up, I was going to use a generous cup or more of achuete or annatto seed. I have rarely cooked with this coloring agent before and I was fascinated by how intense its dye turned out to be…it’s the reason for the near nuclear orange color of a kare-kare.

The other absolutely key ingredient had to be the oxtails. ing2I have eaten many mediocre kare-kare’s and I think part of the reason was substandard oxtails. Not to mention having problems finding any meat at all in the kare-kare. So I decided to go all the way and purchased some of the most expensive, and hopefully premium quality Australian oxtails. At PHP650+ a kilo, this blew a hole in my wallet. I got about 2.5 kilos worth. They were 4x the price of local oxtail but they did look better… And I had no intentions of making a small batch of this stew…I ended up making enough for 10-12 hungry diners! I also threw in some local beef shank to add flavor to the beef broth that I was planning to make from scratch.

Finally, I fretted about the peanut inputs to this dish. Often, the commercially purchased kare-kare is thick as mud and incredibly peanut tasting. ing3One of our previous cooks who used to make this dish would add an ENTIRE large jar of local smooth peanut butter and I was shocked to find this out…it seemed like a whole lot of added sugar to the dish…hmmm, perhaps that’s why so many folks like it. Anyway, I decided to buy a small jar of Ludy’s smooth peanut butter as a back up but I also wanted to buy fresh roasted peanuts to try and do this dish the old-fashioned way. By the time we got to Tagaytay, I still hadn’t found fresh roasted peanuts so I bought raw peanuts in town, shucked them, dried them in the sun, roasted them and ground them up to add to the stew…

For vegetables, I found some good pechay or bok choy, some really fresh sitaw or yard long beans and a fine puso ng saging or banana blossom. I am not sure if using the red type of banana blossom/heart was inferior to the long white type of flower/heart but I didn’t know any better. To keep the banana heart an appealing color, soak it in an acidulated bath (water and some lemon juice) to keep it from turning black. All this prep work and focus on the ingredients…think it made a difference? Keep tuned for the kare-kare a la Marketman up next!



  1. MasPinaSarap says:

    OOH, first post!

    Mas masarap ang puti, pero pareho ang lasa. The white is more tender, but the flavor is the same. Close to the heart’s core it is more tender. As you get deeper into the heart the skin is edible. :)

    ***If anyone lives near the Korean supermarket “Han Ah Reum”, I went today and bought fresh Rambutan and Lychees, very affordable.***

    Jun 21, 2006 | 4:15 am


  2. Notice: Undefined variable: oddcomment in /home/marketman/marketmanila.com/wp-content/themes/marketmanila-v2/comments.php on line 33
  3. relly says:

    Something you might just have forgotten…the grounded roasted rice that should be added at the end of cooking time, as a thickening agent for the sauce and also gives old fashioned taste of your kare kare!

    Jun 21, 2006 | 5:03 am

  4. Larees says:

    Not a big fan of kare-kare but this sounds good.

    Jun 21, 2006 | 6:11 am

  5. Marketman says:

    Maspinasarap, thanks for the tips on white vs. red puso ng saging. Relly, I had the ground roasted rice but it wasn’t too photogenic so I didn’t include it up above :} And Larees, I know exactly where you are coming from, kare-kare was not a favorite of mine either…

    Jun 21, 2006 | 7:41 am

  6. gonzo says:

    well you guy are nuts if you don’t like karekare! heh heh. Of course, for me, the whole raison d’etre is the bagoong 9the good kind! pls see previous post, previous topic). without it– i’d have to agree with some of the posters– kare kare would suck.

    and proof of the above is my old man’s instructions to our cook back in the 80s when he went on a ‘red meat is bad’ health kick. he had her use chicken. So for years we had chicken kare kare (as opposed to the restaurant innovation of seafood kare kare). believe it or not, it was delish. but i have a feeling it was the bagoong…

    Jun 21, 2006 | 8:00 am

  7. linda says:

    I agree with Gonzo,what’s a kare-kare without bagoong? MM,can’t wait for your ultimate kare-kare recipe.This is just a hint MM,I always add browned and freshly cooked garlic before serving and it’s always and truly delish ( you can try this by setting aside a small amount of your cooked kare-kare/fried garlic, and see what you reckon).

    Jun 21, 2006 | 8:58 am

  8. Ivan the Streetwalker says:


    the tuwalya…please dont forget the tuwalya. ;o)

    Jun 21, 2006 | 9:16 am

  9. Olive says:

    Kare-kare is also my family’s favorite food (although we cook it using bottled peanut butter). We also add tuwalya (I don’t know what it’s called in English) and pisngi, which I think contributes to the thickness of the dish. and sometimes, when we like to eat healthy, we use bangus belly.

    Jun 21, 2006 | 9:17 am

  10. Mila says:

    I’ve had some really good seafood kare-kare, but my favorite is still sucking the meat from the oxtail and nibbling on the gelatin between the bones. And bagoong is the kicker. Makes the meal.

    Jun 21, 2006 | 9:23 am

  11. renee says:

    In an effort to eat healthy – my dad used seafood instead of the usual pisngi and oxtail. He used squid (lumot), shrimps and tahong (shell removed). Initially I was worried that it would not taste as rich as the usual kare-kare but surprisingly it was really rich tasting without the guilt of cholesterol. I think its the use of the ground rice, and freshly ground peanut. I am not a fan of sweet kare-kare (sweetened because of the peanut butter), i like the roasted nut taste better – they have this ready to go in the palengke (i will not even dare to think if its hygenically made or not – i like this dish too much eheheheh) im interested in how Olive cooked with bangus belly though – won’t it break apart?

    Jun 21, 2006 | 9:32 am

  12. gonzo says:

    olive, ‘tuwalya’ in english is, appropriately, ‘blanket tripe’.

    Jun 21, 2006 | 9:54 am

  13. linda says:

    tuwalya is “tripe” in english.

    Jun 21, 2006 | 9:59 am

  14. Luwee says:

    Hi MM, cooking Kare-kare is a tedious job because of the long preparation and cooking time, that is, if you are doing it the traditional way, but it is also glorious to have this dish from time to time on the dining table. I prepare the sauce in advance, with a lot of garlic, fresh tomatoes and onions, with freshly roasted dried peanuts (pureed in a blender or food processor with some sugar and salt), a good chicken or meat/bones broth and achuete washings. When all the ingredients are soft and tender, I use a stick mixer to smoothen the sauce. (We do not want our sauce too thick). The sauce can be preserved in the freezer and used in batches. You right MM, good quality oxtail is plus. Also good is the meat part with engrained translucent fat (is that kenchie?) – either pressure cooked or boil on a slow cooker for hours up to the meat’s perfect tenderness, removing first all the surfacing bubbles of impurities at the start of the boiling process. I either add the tenderized oxtail to the boiling sauce or saute them separately in garlic, tomatoes and onions and a little salt.
    I also blanch the veggies separately (pechay, cabbage, heart of banana, sitaw or baguio beans, eggplant) and just add them to the dish in every reheating. (if you are cooking for a big number of people, there’s no need to do this but in our case, a family of three and a household of five, I have to do it this way.) Blanched veggies can also be frozen without losing its color and taste. A good shrimp sauce with lots of garlic and crispy bits of pork completes the dish. Sorry MM, am not pre-empting or grandstanding here, just want to contribute some helpful tips. Am also excited to find out later how you did it. Thanks.

    Jun 21, 2006 | 10:33 am

  15. erleen says:


    This is one of my most favorite food!

    We usually use twalya, balat and isaw. Pata can be used too.(I feel my arteries getting blocked). We do not use the bottled peanut butter because it is too sweet. We buy the ground peanut butter sa palengke. It is just basically unsweetened ground roasted peanuts. Just tell them what you need is yung pang-kare-kare.

    I also use ground malagkit rice. We like the sauce thick.

    Atsuete must be soaked in lihiya to get the maximum color.

    What I do is cook the meat and the vegetables separately. I just cook the vegetables in boiling salted water until tender and put them in an ice waterbath to prevent discoloration.

    I serve them separately so they can get the vegetables they only want to eat. Hindi pa mahahalukay ung kare-kare kakapili ng gulay.

    It is easier to store and re-heat. Hindi pa madaling mapanis.

    Jun 21, 2006 | 11:02 am

  16. mia says:

    This reminds me of the comic strip “Pugad Baboy”, where one character was writing his OFW-brother about how he appreciated the money his brother was sending them. I don’t remember the exact words, but the letter read something like this: “Kuya, salamat sa pinapadala mong pera, tinitipid namin ng husto. Isang linggo na namin inu-ulam ang bagoong…at ang sawsawan namin ay kare-kare.”

    Jun 21, 2006 | 4:51 pm

  17. RST says:

    In the US, many turo-turos serve kare-kare made with-horrors!-pig’s feet and tripe instead of oxtail to keep prices low. There is a circle in Dante’s Inferno reserved for these people. For me the oxtail is the non-negotiable cornerstone of the dish-better not serve it at all rather than serve it with ersatz ingredients. Bagoong raises the dish from being merely great to sublime: it’s the most unique and most distinctively Filipino thing about the dish. The peanut should properly be ground in a molcajete (w/ mortar and pestle), but, alas, no one-absolutely no one-does that anymore in the Philippines. The Thais, the Malays, the Indonesians and other SEAsians (who retain a deeper sense of culinary tradition than we do) all still have a culture of the mortar and pestle, which are everyday items in virtually every kitchen in their countries. We have long capitulated to the culture of the blender and of convenience food. And yes, another circle of Hell is reserved for peanut-butter users.

    The origin of kare-kare remains a mystery. There’s really nothing that is quite like it in all of Filipino or for this matter Malay or Indonesian cooking. The closest dishes to these are the Ecuadorian/Peruvian dishes of tripe in peanut sauce (but the textures and “look” of these dishes are very different from our kare-kare) as well as various meat and peanut stews from various parts of Africa (cf the delicious mafe of Senegal, which could almost pass for kare-kare). We would like to think that there is a Hispanic connection somewhere: peanuts travelling to us from their Incan land of origin perhaps through the galleon trade. But the history must be far more complex than that. And it is not unlikely that the dish came to us from Southern India (perhaps via trade with Malays) as late as the 2nd half of the 19th century.


    Jun 22, 2006 | 12:52 am

  18. gonzo says:

    richard, there was already a discussion i believe on this blog of the possible origins of kare kare–precipitated by a reggie aspiras column on the subject in the Inquirer, if i’m not mistaken. Something to do with the ancestors of some citizens in cainta, rizal. The Sepoys?

    As for the use(or non-use) of the molcajete in asian cultures, i think you will find that the rapid urbanisation of most SE Asian cities has resulted in the increased use of convenience foods. It’s not just a Philippine phenomenon.

    Jun 23, 2006 | 8:18 am

  19. Jocelyn Woensdregt says:

    My best comment is YUMMY and YumYum. I can be in a 9 cloud just having a portion honestly it’s never enough. i eat it with GUSTO.
    To all who labor for the dish MORE POWER.

    Jun 23, 2006 | 9:41 pm

  20. RST says:

    Hi Gonzo,

    I am in Chicago//is the Reggie Aspiras column online? I would be grateful if anyone could point out the discussion of the origins of kare-kare on this board-I did a little searching and cannot find it. I am very interested in this topic. I also saw Apicio’s comment in the other post on kare-kare (the one that follows this one) and would like to point out that beef is in fact eaten in southern India (Tamil Nadu, the Malabar coast etc) where there are large non-Hindu communities (Muslims, “Syrian” Christians, Buddhists in Sri Lanka etc). South India, which had a strong culinary impact on southern Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia etc) seems to be the origin of a number of our dishes as well as various food words (puttuh, to start).


    Jun 24, 2006 | 1:03 am

  21. RST says:

    I googled and found the two Reggie Aspiras articles with Dr. Soler’s letter as well as the initial piece which has Gene Gozalez and Claude Tayag’s opinions (apparently, Reggie Aspiras is some sort of a food writer for the Inquirer). I will weigh in later on several details in those pieces-just want to say for the moment that there were many broad generalizations made in forming some of those opinions (for instance, that Thai/Malay etc curries need to have coconut in them to be “curry”//many “curries” do not take coconut milk/cream). The Cainta/Sepoy origin of kare-kare is intriguing but until we find historical proof, it is merely conjecture. I lean towards a Southern Indian (not necessarily “Sepoy”) origin and think that this area must also be the missing link for various African peanut-sauce based dishes (such as the mafe from peanuts I mentioned earlier-but there are several other dishes made with various other kinds of ground nuts). The meat/part required for this dish is so specific that it is hard to imagine it originally made for any other meat except beef. Somewhere deep inside me, however, there is a suspicion that this specification of oxtail owes something to the gastronomic enjoyment of oxtail (rabo de toro, rabo de buey) which came to us as a legacy of the Spaniards.

    Back to another point in Gonzo’s post:

    Re: rapid urbanization etc

    That is simply not true. Go to any Thai or Vietnamese home even here in the US and you will find the mortar and pestle used on a daily basis-to make nam prik (a kind of salsa), to pound green papaya, even just to mash garlic cloves/spices. We are the only Southeast Asians to have embraced the blender/food processor on a large-scale basis.


    P.S. I would appreciate it if someone could forward me the location of the previous kare-kare discussion on marketmanila.com Still can’t find it.

    Jun 24, 2006 | 2:50 am

  22. Marketman says:

    Richard, I have tried to locate that discussion but can’t find it. Unfortunately, my search function seems to cover only contents of the main post, not the comments. At any rate…it wasn’t much more than has already been raised here…the article by Reggie Aspiras based on the letters you have identified and read was the basis for that avenue of thought…

    While there isn’t a kare-kare equivalent in Indonesian cooking, gado-gado employs a very similar crushed peanut sauce over all of the vegetables… And some Malaysian soups/stews include crushed nuts as well.

    Jun 24, 2006 | 4:32 pm

  23. RST says:

    Thanks. If anyone remembers where it is, please let us know. I consider the “problem” of kare-kare one of the great key questions of food history-on the same level as the “problem” of tomatoes in Europe or the “problem” of the bagel etc It encapsulates so many of the mysteries of both international (the diffusion of peanuts throughout Asia and Africa, the nature of “curry” etc) as well as Filipino food history (what did Filipino food taste like before the arrival of the Spaniards, why is the Filipino kitchen not as spice-oriented as those of neighboring countires, what is the essence of the Filipino palate).

    Jun 25, 2006 | 12:10 am

  24. gonzo says:

    Robert, all good questions, and i’m relieved that there is at least one person other than myself on this earth that ponders these very questions. The origins of kare kare may never be known, only, as you have pointed, surmised. it’s one of those questions in which the answer is lost in time, like “what did the dinosaurs really look like?” we can only guess.

    and if its any consolation to you, everyone in my family (and most of the family friends and our social network) still uses a pestle and mortar. you should see the one in my mother’s kitchen: made of stone but worn down from decades of use.

    Jun 25, 2006 | 6:57 am

  25. gonzo says:

    oh and that just reminded me, some people collect stamps; i collect pestles and mortars. every culture, every country has a version of it, so wherever i go i pick one up for my collection. i now have ‘molcajetes’ from all over the world!

    Jun 25, 2006 | 7:01 am

  26. gonzo says:

    oops richard, not robert! haha

    Jun 25, 2006 | 7:05 am

  27. MasPinaSarap says:

    After making Kare-Kare yesterday, I’m afraid I might have gave you the wrong information on what to eat on the saging ng puso. Just to be sure, discard all the purple outer casings, the little white stamens can be eaten, but they must be freshly white and not discolored, and you must pinch the end off and pull the white string from within out, if you don’t it will be really bitter. The actual white core is edible, slice it crosswise around the entire core to loosen it, and then it can be chopped and cooked. My nang showed me first hand. Sorry, if this caused anyone trouble.

    Jul 5, 2006 | 10:35 am

  28. myra del rosario says:

    My kids love kare-kare but they get it only at handaan elsewhere. I have never in my entire life made it. I love to cook but not on the scale required to come up with kare-kare. Wish I had the patience. I always thought kare-kare was from Cavite because i remember it referred to as kare-kareng Cavite while i was growing up. Now it’s simply called kare-kare period.

    Jul 20, 2007 | 7:20 pm


Market Manila Home · Topics · Archives · About · Contact · Links · RSS Feed

site design by pixelpush

Market Manila © 2004 - 2021