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Kare Kare Recipe

kare kare

A flavor-packed stew fit for a feast.

In her first cookbook, I Am a Filipino, chef and New York City restaurateur Nicole Ponseca flips the script on Filipino food, elevating its sweet and funky flavors to universal recognition. The book’s first recipe is for kare kare, which Ponseca calls her “all-time, forever-and-ever-amen favorite.” The slow-cooking stew combines wine-simmered oxtails and crisp vegetables and is balanced by the savory-sweet addition of creamy peanut butter, offering an instant culinary escape to the Philippines.

Ingredients

Yield:4 to 6
  • 5 lbs. oxtails, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 7 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1⁄2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 cups red wine (about 1 1⁄4 bottles), like a Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 cup Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine or sherry
  • 4 to 6 cups stock, preferably beef
  • 1 lb. Chinese long beans or green beans
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb. Japanese eggplant, thickly sliced
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup achuete oil

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Season the oxtails well with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed oven-safe pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown the oxtails on all sides, then transfer them to a plate. Do this in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan.

Remove all but a tablespoon of the fat from the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, celery and carrot, cooking until they are soft and aromatic, 3 to 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme, letting it soften slightly, then add the red wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the oxtails to the pot and add the Shaoxing wine and enough stock to cover the meat. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook for 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is fork- tender but not falling off the bone.

While the oxtails cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice and water. When the water boils, add the long beans and cook for 1 minute, or just until they turn bright green. Immediately plunge them into the ice water until they feel cold to the touch. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally until it is soft, about 10 minutes, then transfer the eggplant and garlic to a bowl and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean and heat 2 tablespoons more oil over medium heat. Add the bok choy and a pinch of salt and cook until bright green and tender, yet firm. Set it aside on a separate plate.

When the oxtails are tender, remove the meat from the liquid in the pot and set it aside on a plate. Strain the braising liquid, discarding the solids, then return the liquid to the pot and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Turn the heat to low, add the peanut butter and soy sauce, and stir until the peanut butter is incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and add sugar, if desired, then stir in the achuete oil.

Return the meat to the pot and cook until it is heated through, a minute or two. Serve hot, with the vegetables, 4 to 6 cups cooked white rice and bagoong (a salty, funky paste made from fermented seafood and available online) on the side.

Achuete Oil: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until smoking hot, then add 1⁄4 cup of annatto seeds (available in most stores) and toast, stirring frequently until they begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of vegetable oil and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring until the oil takes on the deep red color of the seeds, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the oil cool. Strain through a fine- mesh sieve into a sealable jar. Store for up to 1 month.

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