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Kare Kare : Oxtail Peanut Stew

This Kare-Kare Oxtail Peanut Stew recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa & Romy Dorotan. They served this classic Filipino dish to a bunch of us, food bloggers, when we had dinner at their Brooklyn restaurant “Purple Yam” last month. It was a nice evening of friendship and good food shared and to welcome to NYC  famous Filipino food chef-artist Claude Tayag & wife, Mary Ann Quioc owners of “Bale Dutung” in Pampanga, Philippines. The Kare-Kare is a Filipino dish that’s served in many different occasions. As a Sunday meal, it is superb. As a party main event, it is unbeatable because its different flavor offerings appeal to everyone and go well with other entrees on the fiesta table. The reason why I keep going back to Chef Romy Dorotan’s recipe is because it gives me the option of cooking Kare-Kare either the old fashioned way with ground toasted rice and unsalted peanuts . Or if I’m in a rush, the same recipe suggests the use of peanut butter. And that makes this family favorite easy to do just a tad bit. Recipe from "Memories of Philippine Kitchens" by Amy Besa & Romy Dorotan.  


  • 4 pounds cut into 2 inch pieces oxtails
  • 5 Tablespoons canola oil or oxtail fat
  • 1 small head cloves peeled and mashed garlic
  • 2 medium chopped onions
  • 6 plum quartered tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup creamy variety peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 small optional (from the Asian groceries) banana heart
  • 20 pieces cut into 2-inch pieces (from Asian groceries) long beans
  • 3 pieces quartered lengthwise, cut into 2-inch pieces Chinese eggplants
  • for serving steamed white rice
  • for serving bagoong na alamang fermented shrimp paste
  • 6 to 8 bunches coarsely chopped in 2-inch slices bok choy or Chinese cabbage
  • 1 Tablespoon achuete seeds
  • 1/2 cup hot water


  • Wash the oxtails well and place them in a large saucepan with water to cover. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the oxtails are fork-tender, about 90 minutes.
  • Allow to cool. Then cover the pot and refrigerate overnight to separate the fat.
  • The next day, skim and reserve the fat for sauteing. Take the oxtails from the broth. Reserve the broth for later use.
  • Prepare the achuete water: soak seeds in a small bowl with hot water. After 30 minutes to an hour, pass the seeds through a sieve, reserving the orange-colored water for the saute.
  • In a large saucepan, over medium heat, warm 5 tablespoons of the oxtail fat or canola oil. Add the garlic, onions, and saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, achuete water and peanut butter and cook for 2 minutes or till tomatoes have softened.
  • Add the reserved broth and cook for 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Add the oxtail and cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Keep stirring the sauce so the ingredients do not stick to the bottom of the pan or get burned.
  • Once the oxtail has blended well, add the long beans and eggplants and cook for 10 minutes. Add the bok choy last because this will take 5 minutes to cook. The stew should have a thick sauce, not too soupy, but just the right amount of gravy-like consistency.
  • Serve Kare Kare over steamed white rice, accompanied with "bagoong"/shrimp paste on the side.

Recipe Notes: If using the banana heart (find them at Asian groceries), here's what Chef Romy Dorotan recommends:

  • Fill a bowl with 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt.
  • Peel the outer layers of the banana heart till you reach the pale-colored middle part of the heart. Cut the banana heart into 8 sections and immediately place in the water.
  • Massage the pieces with your hands for 3 minutes to remove the bitter sap.
  • Discard the soapy-looking liquid that emerges.
  • Drain in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse and repeat the whole process. Taste a small piece and if there is any bitterness remaining, wash the banana heart again.
  • Add the banana heart to the Kare-Kare stew at the stage when the oxtail has cooked in the peanut sauce for 20 minutes. Do this just before you add the long beans and eggplants.

Kare Kare, the old fashioned way:

  • Chef Romy Dorotan recommends to toast rice, place the rice in a skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Cool, then finely grind in a spice mill or food processor. Add this ground rice, 1/3 cup crushed peanuts, and achuete water to the stew after you've added the banana heart and oxtail cuts. Cook for about 5 minutes till the stew is the right consistency.
  • Availability : Shrimp paste and the Asian vegetables can be found in Asian groceries.
  •  Cooking Suggestions: My sister extends this recipe by adding chunks of pork shoulder cubes, if oxtail is too pricey. I personally add beef short ribs to the oxtail in this dish.