Beef stew with peanut sauce

Beef stew with peanut sauce


7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

There is something about kare-kare that excites Filipinos. For some, it’s the unctuous meat; others, the salty bagoong; for most, it’s the satisfaction that comes after a big bowl. Filling kare-kare is not for every day, but is a must-have at restaurants, where Filipinos treat themselves to one of their all-time favourites.

Kare-kare is traditionally made with oxtail. While this recipe uses a mix of meaty beef brisket and ribs for bones, one or the other can be used. You may find the peanut and rice sauce plain, but it is intentional; no kare-kare is complete without a dollop of bagoong (shrimp paste), which brings it all together.


Quantity Ingredient
500g beef brisket, fat trimmed, cut into 6 cm pieces
500g beef spare ribs
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons medium-grain or long-grain white rice
50g unsalted roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons annatto seeds
1 banana blossom/heart, (optional)
2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice
60ml vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3 japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise and widthwise
200g snake or green beans, trimmed, tied into knots if desired
steamed rice, shrimp paste and kalamansi or lemon wedges, to serve


  1. Place all the beef in a large, deep saucepan and pour in 1.5 litres water. Bring to the boil over high heat, skimming any scum from the surface. Add the peppercorns, reduce the heat to low, then cover and cook for 2–21⁄2 hours, or until tender and almost falling off the bone (rib meat will be much softer; brisket will continue cooking in sauce). Transfer the beef and cooking liquid to a large bowl, discarding the bones and excess fat.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the rice in a small dry frying pan over medium–high heat for 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden and slightly fragrant. Remove from the heat and cool. Using a food processor, process until finely ground.
  3. To make the peanut paste, put the peanuts in a food processor and process until they start to form a paste (it shouldn’t be completely smooth; you want a bit of texture).
  4. To make annatto water, place the annatto seeds and 60 ml water in a small bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to extract the red colour. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a bowl, discarding the seeds.
  5. To prepare the banana blossom, if using, combine the vinegar and 750 ml water in a large bowl (to prevent discolouring). Peel off and discard the outer leaves to reveal the pale inner core. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then in half widthwise. Immediately place in acidulated water. Set aside until needed, then drain before using.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring until soft. Return the beef and stock to the pan and season with salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until reduced slightly. Add the annatto water, fish sauce, ground rice and peanut paste. Using a wooden spoon, break up the paste and stir until combined. Cook over medium–high for 5 minutes, or until thickened but still soupy. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  7. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the banana heart and cook for 3 minutes (it will discolour). Add the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beans and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until tender. Drain, then transfer to a plate.
  8. Transfer the beef mixture to a large bowl and add the vegetables. Serve the kare-kare with rice, shrimp paste and kalamansi.

Where does it come from?

  • There are several theories surrounding the origins of kare-kare. One suggests that Sepoys who settled in the Philippines after the brief British occupation began selling their native stew known as karikaari. Once they ran out of their own ingredients, they began incorporating local ones, which lead to kare-kare (from the Malay language habit of doubling words). Others liken the dish to Indonesia’s peanut gado-gado. Food writer Claude Tayag sees it as the ultimate Filipino fusion dish — oxtail from the Spanish, peanuts from Mexico, snake beans from China and indigenous banana heart and shrimp paste.
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