I learned of this word Kare Kare from my hubby. He actually got to know this Filipino’s dish from a friend. We both never tasted it though. He was told that it was one of the must-try Filipino dishes. My first time ever cooking Filipino’s dish was the Chicken Adobo (Vinegar-Braised Chicken) few months ago. I’m eager to try more Filipino dishes and finally got a hold of this cookbook called Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan with their stories and recipe collections from far and near. I flipped through the cookbook and saw Kare Kare. I was excited to give it a try. Kare Kare is one of the dishes that Filipinos claim ownership to.
According to Alan Davidson in The Oxford Companion to Food, the word Kari is a Tamil word meaning spiced sauce. Through the centuries, the word and the dish traveled to Europe, and the Portuguese, Dutch, and English helped it evolve into the present term, Curry. In Indonesian language, that’s what we call curry as, Kari.
The Kari in Indonesia uses lots of spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, chilis, etc. The Filipino Kare Kare doesn’t use any of those spices. Instead, the Kare Kare is cooked with the oxtail stock simmer over hours . The fat from the stock is then used to flavor the dish. The Kare Kare is then thickened with ground toasted rice and peanuts. The whole dish is rich and creamy for sure.
Kare Kare is then served with bagoong na alamang, which means fermented shrimp paste. The fermented shrimp paste is definitely a familiar ingredient throughout Southeast Asia.
This dish is definitely not something that you can cook on the day you want to serve it. The oxtail needs to be prepared a day ahead. I also suggested to toast the rice grain and peanuts and ground them the day before, so on the day you are going to cook it, at least the main bulk of the work is done.
I’m always eager to try something new and Oxtail Kare Kare is one of them and we were not disappointed.
OXTAIL KARE KARE ( 6 servings)
2 lbs oxtail (cut into 2-inch pieces)
5 Tbsp oxtail fat
1 small head garlic (peeled and mashed)
2 medium onions (chopped)
6 plum tomatoes (quartered)
1/3 cup ground toasted rice and 1/2 cup ground dry-roasted unsalted peanuts (you can substitute with 3/4 cup of peanut butter but I suggested not to as the toasted rice is really fragrant and does make a difference)
2 tsp salt or more to your taste
About 20 long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Chinese eggplants (quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces)
2 Tbsp achuete seeds, soaked in 1/4 cup hot water for 20 minutes and strained and keep the water
Bagoong na alamang/Fermented shrimp paste for serving
WHAT TO DO THE DAY BEFORE:
1. Wash the oxtails thoroughly and place them in a large pot with water enough to cover. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the oxtails are fork-tender and falling off the bone, about 2-3 hours minimum. Let cook in the cooking liquid, cover the pot, and refrigerate overnight to separate the fat
2. 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
1. Skim and reserve the fat from the oxtail you prepared the day before. Take the oxtails from the broth, set aside and reserve the broth
2. In another large pot over medium heat, warm 5 Tbsp of oxtail fat, make up with some canola oil if needed. Add the garlic and onions and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened. Add the reserved broth and cook for 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the oxtail and cook, uncovered until the broth has reduced partially, this may take 30 minutes or longer. Do not simmer off all the liquid though
3. Add the long beans and eggplants, cover, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the ground rice, peanuts, and achuete water and cook for about 5 minutes, until the stew is the right consistency- not too thick but not too soupy either. Serve with rice and bagoong na alamang (fermented shrimp paste)