Kare-kare is a Filipino stew traditionally made with oxtail, tripe, and vegetables in a thick peanut sauce. It’s usually served during special occasions, perhaps because the procedure is painstakingly delicate. With the help of my mom, we both re-invented kare-kare to a vegan dish full of soulful flavor and familiar taste.
Filipino Kare-Kare Stew [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- 2 tablespoons garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 banana blossom, sliced
- 2 whole eggplants, sliced
- 1 bundle pechay or Filipino bok choy
- 6 pieces of Chinese Snow Fungus, soaked in water (find this at your local Asian market)
- 1 cup toasted peanuts, powdered using a food processor*
- 1/2 cup toasted white rice, powdered using a food processor*
- 1 small bunch string beans, cut to 2-inch slices
- 2-3 tablespoons annatto powder, fully dissolved in 1/2 cup water
- 1 /2 cup vegetable broth or 4 tablespoons vegetable bouillon broth powder
- Cooking oil
- 3-6 tablespoons fermented black bean garlic sauce (as condiment) (you can also find this at an Asian market or perhaps even your regular grocery store)
- In a large pot, sauté the garlic with oil until fragrant. Follow with the onions.
- Add the eggplant, eight cups of water, and vegetable broth and put to a boil to soften the eggplant.
- Once the eggplant is soft, add the banana blossom, string beans, and snow fungus.
- Add more water (about 4 more cups) then add the ground rice and peanuts. Mix and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Adjust the taste and consistency of the sauce by adding more vegetable broth or ground peanuts. The sauce should be thick but not too gooey. If it gets too thick, add more water until it loosens up. The taste should be savory but not overpowering. Simmer until boiling.
- Add the bok choy or pechay. Mix to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Turn off the heat. Serve hot with black bean sauce and rice on the side.
On cutting the banana blossom, first peel the 3-5 outer layers. Smear your knife with lemon or lime juice then slice the bud in six portions. Quickly soak the banana bud in water with salt, otherwise its sap will turn black. Toast the rice and peanuts on a pan over medium heat. Constantly stir for about 15 minutes or until rice and peanuts are fully light brown. Pulverize in a food processor. Set aside. The annatto powder doesn’t dissolve instantly in water so soak for about 20 minutes before using (or you may whisk it to constantly dissolve). Kare-kare is notorious for going bad right away. The vegan version, however, can stay outside the fridge without getting spoiled instantly.