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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

[Filipino Recipes] Kare Kare Oxtail

The classic Kare-Kare from the Philippines is a type of stew made with oxtail and simmered in a rich annatto-and-peanut gravy. Oftentimes, you can also find Kare-Kare made with pork hocks, beef shanks, or even regular beef stew meat, but the oxtail version is the most popular, especially during parties and fiestas (Filipino community feasts).

Kare Kare Oxtail | Filipino Recipes

My mother comes from a Chinese-Filipino family that settled in the province of Pampanga, in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. Pampanga served as the location of the once-largest U.S. Air Force Base outside of the States – Clark Air Base – from 1903 to 1991. This made Pampanga a highly urbanized province with an international flair, yet it managed to retain its many local traditions like the fiesta. Fiestas are large-scale community street parties, usually centred around a unique, customary, or religious occasion, and often marked by a communal gathering of people and food.

Kare Kare Oxtail 2 | Filipino Recipes

Pampanga is believed to be a province that loves to eat, therefore has plenty of skilled master cooks. At many Pampagueño or Kapampangan feasts, dishes with exotic names such as relleno, morcon, adobo, sisig, estofado, pichi-pichi, yema, and of course, kare-kare feature prominently on the menu. The flavours of its dishes are always rich, vigorous, and distinctive.

Kare Kare Oxtail 4 | Filipino Recipes

This Kare-Kare recipe I feature is more of a “traditional” recipe, meaning the sauce is made from scratch, not from a sauce mix. That said, I have no qualms using the sauce mix since it produces delicious results. The sauce mix version is specially helpful when ingredients are hard to find on this side of the world, although it’s no faster than the traditional method! Either way, both methods are worthy of any fiesta. It’s a moveable feast, indeed!

Kare-Kare Oxtail

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 3 hours 30 mins
Total time: 3 hours 50 mins

Recipe Type: Meat, Savoury, Peanut
Cuisine: Filipino
Serves: 4 servings

3 pounds oxtail, cut into pieces of approximately 2 inches (5 cm), ideally from the middle portion
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large yellow onion, quartered
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
250 grams (your choice of) baby bok choy or pechay or string beans, cut in bite-size pieces
2 large Japanese eggplants, sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons annatto oil (find the recipe link at the bottom of the post body before the recipe)
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
125 grams (a heaping 1 cup) toasted rice flour
250 grams (approximately 1 cup) unsalted, all-natural peanut butter
¼ cup shrimp paste

Kare Kare Oxtail 3 | Filipino Recipes


1. Place the oxtail in a large pot filled with water and boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling and some sediment or impurities start to form on top, drain the oxtail and throw away the water. Wipe the pot clean and return to stove top.

2. Transfer the oxtail back into the clean pot, add garlic, onion, peppercorns, and bay leaves, and add sufficient water to cover. Bring to a hard boil and then lower heat to medium or medium-low and cook until meat is tender, about 3-4 hours.

3. When meat is tender, strain the liquid into a fresh container, discarding the herbs. Set aside.

4. Heat the annatto oil in a casserole or a (traditional) clay pot over medium heat. Sauté diced onion and minced garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5. Add the reserved liquid and bring to a boil over high heat. Add your choice of green vegetables and cook until bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Optional: place on ice bath to stop cooking and maintain bright colour. Next, add the eggplant and cook until tended but purple skin is still bright, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside with the rest of the vegetables.

6. Eyeball or estimate your liquid - there should be enough to cover at least half way up your oxtails. When there is sufficient liquid, add the toasted rice flour and peanut butter to the casserole or pot and stir until smooth. Use a whisk if you can.

7. Bring the casserole to a quick boil and stir continuously until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency. It should have a little body to it, not watery. Immediately lower the heat when ideal consistency is reached, then add the shrimp paste and stir until combined.

8. Return the oxtails in the casserole, along with the reserved vegetables, and warm in low heat. Serve warm with a side of shrimp paste (bagoong) or fish sauce (patis).

This recipe and image sources are referred in Thanks so much!

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