Kare-kare is a classic and beloved Filipino stew made of meat and vegetables in thick and creamy peanut sauce, traditionally with shrimp paste (bagoong) and rice on the side. This recipe embodies all of the traditional complexity and flavors of this creamy hearty dish but replaces the bagoong with a black bean and seaweed paste that's better than it's predecessor.
Kare-Kare: Filipino Vegetable Stew in Peanut-Based Sauce [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- 1 banana blossom bud, fresh (canned, which is ready to use, is an okay alternative)
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and minced
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- A few pinches sea salt
- 6 cups water
- 2 eggplants, sliced
- 1 cup vegetable broth or more to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons achiote or annatto powder, fully dissolved in 2 cups water
- 1 cup peanuts, toasted and ground to a powder. (Peanut butter is an okay alternative)
- 1/2 cup white rice, toasted and ground to a powder and mixed with 1 cup water
- 1 small bunch long beans, cut into 2-inch slices and ends removed
- 2 pieces dried snow fungus, soaked for 1-3 minutes, cut into big chunks (textured soy protein is an okay alternative)
- 1 bundle bok choy, washed, bottom stalk cut off
- 2 tablespoons black bean sauce mixed with 2 tablespoons seaweed flakes (as condiment)
- Peel outer layers of banana blossom until you reach the pale pink, tender bud.
- Discard the outer layers and yellow pistils or use them as decor for plating.
- Have a large bowl of salt water nearby. Oil your knife and cutting board to prevent the sap from sticking. Cut off the stem and slice the bud in half lengthwise.
- Cut in chunks and immediately submerge the banana blossom in salt water. Soak them for at least 10 minutes.
- Discard the soaking water and rinse them thoroughly. In a large pot, sautée the garlic with oil until it's fragrant.
- Add the onions and continue to cook the mixture.
- Add few pinches of sea salt and sautée until onions have turned soft and translucent.
- Add the banana blossom, eggplant, water, vegetable broth, and acute mixture to the pot. Mix everything well and cover the pot.
- Simmer until the eggplant and banana blossom are tender.
- Mix in ground peanuts and rice mixture.
- Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add more water one cup at a time until the consistency gets creamy.
- Adjust the seasoning by adding more vegetable broth or ground peanuts to taste.
- Add the long beans, snow fungus, and bok choy. Raise the stew to a boil and turn off the heat.
- Serve it hot, preferably with rice and black bean condiment on the side.
On toasting and grinding the rice: Toast rice on a pan over high heat. Constantly stir for about 15 minutes or until rice has turned fully light brown. Pulverize using a food processor or high-speed blender. Transfer to a container. Repeat procedure for toasting the peanuts. On grinding the peanuts: I use a high-speed blender which could make the texture very sticky. You could use a spatula to scrape the sides and blend further. Or you could pour about a cup of the broth from the simmering pot into the blender to get the blender going and grind the peanuts further. You could use peanut butter instead of toasted peanuts and rice. Just make sure the peanut butter is mainly peanuts and water.