The idea of peanut butter and beef together in a dish may not sit well with the Western tongue. But for us Pinoys, the flavor is not new since one of our well-loved dishes contain these two ingredients and then some. We are talking about a dish no other than Beef Kare Kare.
A common sight in many celebratory feasts, Kare Kare sauce can be spotted a mile away. With its light golden hue, bright green veggies, and the aromatic scarlet shrimp paste accompanying it, it is a viand that’s hard to miss. Unlike other Filipino dishes that boast several varieties, there seemed to be only one way to cook this peanut-based dish — until now.
Ingredients You Never Thought to Add to Kare Kare
Traditional Kare Kare ingredients consist of beef, tripe, oxtail, trotters, beef meat, shanks, the occasional offal and of course a selection of vegetables. To flavor the sauce, peanuts are ground up and mixed with the stock. Depending on whose recipe you follow, it could also include some creamy peanut butter, ground up glutinous rice, and annatto for coloring. Other than following the traditional recipe, there are a few interesting reinventions that need to take a center stage. Here's a few twists worth trying.
Sure, any Kare Kare can be made vegetarian by removing the beef and replacing the stock with a veggie based one. However, if a meatier tasting stew is the preference, a suitable alternative is to replace the meat with unripe jackfruit.
Fairly inexpensive, langka has made an appearance in many coconut cream vegetable dishes. Vegan recipes also often include unripe jackfruit as a substitute for meat. Therefore, it only makes sense to ditch the beef or pork in favour of this fruit. Its stringy texture mimics meat very well and its neutral taste allows for easy absorption of the Kare Kareng Gulay peanut sauce.
Melding two dishes together can be hit or miss. Two chefs took a leap and decided to bring the flavors of the peanut stew and the tamarind a common souring agent for Sinigang. It’s a little hard to imagine how these two very different dishes could marry together beautifully. But it did!
This modern take on the Beef Kare Kare utilises beef short ribs, onions, celery, carrots, bok choy, cream, peanut butter, and of course tamarind puree. The dish has the right balance of sour notes from the sampalok, and just the right nutty sweetness from the peanut butter.
A Tausug dish from Zamboanga that takes inspiration from both the Korma (beef curry) and the classic Kare Kare, the Beef Kulma is made up of all the best components. The tender beef curry comes with peanuts, coconut milk, curry spices, and tomato sauce.
Considered as a dish reserved for special occasions such as the Ramadan, the Tausug Kulma or Korma can be found in many restaurants in Mindanao. Halal friendly, this beef peanut curry combines so many recognizable flavors that pair so well with a heaping serving of rice. Boost the meaty flavor of any dish by adding Knorr Beef Cube to the stock. With just a single bouillon, the flavors of a kilo of beef are infused into the dish.
The Kare Kare is said to have originated from the curry recipe brought to our shores by Southeast Asian neighbors. A lot of the ingredients being used in their dishes are similar to ours. If the beef stew is getting to be a bore, consider using shrimp.
Creamy with a distinct salty taste from the fish sauce, the coconut milk is also mixed with red curry paste, lime juice, ginger, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Garnish with fresh basil, cilantro, and an extra squeeze of lime. Thai-style shrimp Kare Kare brings tangy hints from the lime, rich umami goodness in the peanut and coconut cream sauce along with the fresh flavors from the shrimp.
Satay skewers are best known for its peanut dipping sauce. Using boneless chicken thighs and making a stew out of the sauce beats having to grill satay individually. A one pot dish, chicken sans the skin is a healthy alternative for those who are looking to eat Kare Kare minus the calories from beef or pork.
A New Take on the Iconic Kare Kare Condiment: Bagoong
Condiments are a part of the Filipino dining experience. In fact, we have a condiment to pair for nearly every dish. One such example is bagoong. A staple in many kitchens across the country, the bagoong is made by fermenting either shrimp or fish. Thanks to veganism, a new type of bagoong can be added to your collection – the vegan bagoong.
What is vegan bagoong exactly?
Unlike earlier versions, the vegan bagoong can be made from mushrooms, beans, or a combination of both. It’s a great alternative for people who prefer plant-based products.
Vegan bagoong is easy to make and does not require any fermentation. Like shrimp paste, ingredients are sauteed together to create this aromatic condiment that’s perfect for Kare Kare.
How to make vegan “shrimp” paste
Making homemade plant-based bagoong is easy. Here is how:
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 tsp minced or grated ginger
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ medium onion finely chopped
- 2 ½ tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
- ½ tbsp chili flakes
- ½ cup Korean soybean paste (doenjang)
- 100 gms minced fresh shitake or oyster mushrooms
- Finely chop or mince ingredients aiming for uniform sizes.
- Heat oil in a pan over high heat
- Sauté garlic, onion and ginger for around 3 minutes or until aromatic
- Add in the chili and mix well
- Next, add the mushrooms. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes
- Add in sugar once mushrooms are cooked thoroughly
- Mix until sugar is dissolved
- Add in the soybean paste
- Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes
- Taste and add more sugar or chili depending on your preference
- Cook for a few more minutes until additional spices are full combined
- Turn off heat and cool completely before transferring into a jar
*Keep refrigerated, when stored correctly in an airtight container, vegan bagoong should last up to 3 months.
Beef Kare Kare remains to be a Filipino favorite. Its regular presence in many feasts, restaurant menus, and buffet tables are a testament to this. After a while however, eating beef stews can become boring and repetitive. The use of unconventional ingredients can turn this classic into a modern recipe for everyone to enjoy.
Along with the use of unique food elements in the peanut stew, a condiment like vegan bagoong turns an old favorite into something modern.