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Kare Kare Recipe: Filipino Beef Oxtail Stew in Rich Peanut Sauce

If you’ve ever had the privilege of sitting down to a hearty Filipino meal, chances are you’ve encountered the rich and robust flavors of a classic kare kare recipe. This beloved Filipino dish captures the essence of traditional cooking with its complex flavors and rich, thick peanut sauce. Often reserved for special occasions, kare kare is a labor of love that is well worth the effort.

Understanding the Kare Kare Recipe

A bowl of kare kare with beef oxtail, green beans, and thick peanut sauce.

At its core, a kare kare recipe is a stew made from a meat ingredient like beef oxtail, pork hock, or even seafood for a seafood kare-kare version. It’s cooked slowly over medium heat until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together. The dish is then thickened with ground rice or glutinous rice flour and enriched with ground peanuts or peanut butter for a thick peanut sauce that is simply irresistible.

An Array of Vegetables

Various ingredients for kare kare including bok choy, long beans, and banana blossoms.

What sets this dish apart is the array of vegetables that are added to the mix. Long beans, bok choy, and banana heart or banana blossoms are classic additions, although variations may include green beans or other local vegetables. These veggies add a fresh contrast to the rich and hearty dish, making it a well-rounded meal that is both filling and nutritious.

Coloring with Annatto

Another key ingredient in the kare kare recipe is annatto powder or annatto seeds. This natural coloring agent gives the dish its distinctive orange hue. The seeds are soaked in enough water to create annatto water, which is then used during the cooking process. You can find annatto in Asian supermarkets or even online.

Cooking Kare Kare: Traditional vs Modern Methods

The traditional recipe for kare kare is usually cooked in a clay pot over medium heat. It’s a slow and steady process, but the result is a flavorful and rich stew. However, with the rise of modern kitchen gadgets like the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, the cooking time is significantly reduced. Both methods yield delicious results, but using a pressure cooker or instant pot will certainly save you some time.

Savoring Kare Kare with Bagoong Alamang

One cannot talk about a kare kare recipe without mentioning bagoong alamang or fermented shrimp paste. This salty and pungent condiment is often served on the side and adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish. It’s the perfect complement to the rich peanut sauce and tender meat.

Kare Kare Variations

Different variations of kare kare including vegetable, beef, and seafood.

While the classic kare kare recipe uses beef oxtail, there are several variations to enjoy. Beef kare-kare often uses beef chuck or beef shank, while pata kare kare uses pork hock. There’s also a vegetable kare-kare for those who prefer a lighter option and a seafood kare-kare for pescatarians. Regardless of the variation, the essence of kare kare — a thick and hearty peanut butter stew — remains.

Enjoying Kare Kare at Home

Preparing kare kare at home can be an exciting culinary adventure. While it may seem complex, the process can be simplified with preparation and a bit of patience. With the right ingredients and a little bit of time, you can recreate this classic Filipino stew in your own kitchen. Serve it with plain white rice for a truly Filipino dining experience.

Kare Kare: More than Just a Dish

Kare kare is more than just a recipe — it’s a reflection of Filipino culture and history. The word ‘kare’ is derived from the Indian word ‘curry,’ a nod to the Indian soldiers who settled in the Philippines in the past. Today, it’s a popular stew that continues to be a favorite in Filipino households and restaurants alike.

Final Thoughts on Kare Kare

Close-up of a bowl of kare kare with a spoonful of bagoong alamang on the side.

In conclusion, the kare kare recipe is a testament to the rich and diverse Filipino cuisine. It’s a dish that requires time, effort, and a variety of ingredients, but the end result is a flavorful and satisfying meal that’s worth every minute spent in the kitchen. So go ahead and give it a try — your taste buds will thank you!


Authentic Filipino Kare Kare Recipe

Authentic Filipino Kare Kare Recipe

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Kare Kare is a traditional Filipino stew, made with a variety of vegetables, meat, and a rich, thick peanut sauce. It's a signature dish from the Philippines, a true comfort food that's hearty, flavorful, and satisfying.


  • 1 kg oxtail, cut in chunks
  • 1 bunch of bok choy
  • 2 eggplants, sliced
  • 1 bunch of string beans, cut in 3-inch lengths
  • 1 banana heart, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup ground peanuts
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup shrimp paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup annatto seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking oil


  1. In a large pot, boil the oxtail with salt until tender. This can take about an hour. Reserve the broth.
  2. In another pot, sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant.
  3. Add the boiled oxtail to the pot and sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add the ground peanuts and peanut butter to the pot and mix well.
  5. Soak the annatto seeds in a cup of warm water to extract the color. Strain the annatto water into the pot, discarding the seeds.
  6. Add the reserved broth to the pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add the banana heart and string beans. Cook for 5-10 minutes until slightly tender.
  8. Add the eggplant and bok choy. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and add the shrimp paste. Stir well to combine.
  10. Simmer for another 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Let the Kare Kare rest for a few minutes before serving.


You may also use other cuts of meat like tripe or pork hocks, depending on your preference. Just ensure that the meat is properly tenderized by boiling it for the necessary amount of time.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 400mgCarbohydrates: 20gNet Carbohydrates: 15gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 26g

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