Introduction: Kare-Kare: Filipino Ox Tail Stew

Picture of Kare-Kare: Filipino Ox Tail Stew

Kare-kare is a traditional Filipino ox tail stew in a peanut-based sauce. Because the recipe varies from family to family and person to person, what follows is a version of how this dish is made in my family.

NOTE: This recipe is time intensive. If you need it for a party, function, or family gathering, it would be wise to cook it (or begin cooking it) a day in advance.

Also, if your Nanay or Lola or Tita Gi make it better, feel free to contribute, comment, or, you know...criticize. You know you want to.

This instructible, the first in a series on Filipino food, is dedicated to my sweet mother (and unofficial collaborator), Rosvida, who took the time to teach her cooking-impaired, multi-culti, half-breed baby how to make this delicacy. Those matronly Filipina hands that you see in most of the photographs and video files belong to her. Maraming salamat po!

Step 1: Gather Ingredients.

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You will need the following:

-3 packages ox tail (2 lbs.) - 6lbs. total
-4 Asian ('Oriental') purple eggplant (the Chinese Ma-Zu and Ping Tung varieties work well)
-one fistful (aprox. 14 pieces) of long string beans (sitaw)
-4 small bok choy
-1 large onion
-(approx.) 1/4 cup (or less) uncooked rice
-1 package Mama Sita's Stew Base Mix (Pang Kare-Kare)
-1 jar peanut butter
-salt (2 tsp. or to taste)
-pepper (2 tsp. or to taste)

-1 8 qt. pot (if you have an extra one, plan on using it. if not, don't worry.)
-1 collander or strainer big enough to hold 6lbs. of ox tail, and, later, your vegetables
-1 pan

This recipe yields a family-size portion.

Also, this recipe contains more vegetables than usually used in the stew. If you prefer it with less, reduce the number of eggplant and bok choy.

Step 2: Trim and Rinse the Meat.

Picture of Trim and Rinse the Meat.
This stew tends to be on the fatty side if you don't trim the ox tail; if fat is an issue to you, trim the excess fat. After you trim each piece, rinse it under running water and put it in your 8 quart pot. If you do not wish to trim your ox tail pieces, simply rinse them and place them in the pot.

Step 3: Boil to Soften the Meat and to Remove Additional Fat.

Picture of Boil to Soften the Meat and to Remove Additional Fat.

Fill the pot with enough water to cover the pieces. Bring to a boil, then continue boiling for 15 minutes. After this, dump the first boil, and rinse the meat to further remove fat and dirt that hasn't (yet) been cleaned off. After you rinse the meat, fill the pot to with enough water to cover the ox tail, and boil it for a second time. (If the fat content of this stew is not an issue to you, skip the second boil.)

If you have a second 8 quart pot handy, bust it out. If not, keep the meat in a collander or strainer and clean your pot to remove the fat (and dirt) you've boiled out.

Step 4: Begin Cooking Your Stew.

Picture of Begin Cooking Your Stew.

Put your meat into the pot and fill it with just enough water to cover the ox tail pieces. Begin cooking on a high flame. Add salt (approx. 2 tsp, or to taste), and pepper (approx. 2 tsp, or to taste).

Step 5: Chop Your Onion.

Picture of Chop Your Onion.

While the stew has started to cook, chop your large onion. It doesn't mater how--rings or large chunks work fine. Dump your chopped onion into the pot.

Step 6: Cook It! Cook It Good.

Picture of Cook It!  Cook It Good.

Bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, and then continue to cook, covered, letting it simmer on a medium flame for 1.5-2 hours.

Remember to stir periodically.

Note: The decision of how long to cook your stew at this point determines how tender your meat will be--1 hour yields harder meat, 1.5 yields fairly tender meat, 2 hours should leave you with incredibly tender meat. (In our household, we prefer and recommend cooking it on the tender side.)

The steps that follow are meant to be done as the stew is cooking. Keep an eye on your timer. These steps coincide with particular time marks that will be stated. If you plan to cook your kare kare for only a hour and a half, adjust the time on these steps as you see fit.

Step 7: Brown Your Rice.

Picture of Brown Your Rice.
About 10 minutes before the stew hits the one hour mark, begin to brown your rice.

To do this, first heat your pan on a medium/medium high flame. Once it is hot enough, pour your rice into it. Because you will be cooking it on a relatively high flame, it's important to keep the rice moving so you don't burn it.

When the rice is finished browning, put it in your stew to thicken--you should be doing this at around the 1 hour mark. Cook for approximately 30 minutes.

Step 8: Cut Your Vegetables.

Picture of Cut Your Vegetables.
While the stew is cooking, cut and clean your eggplant, boy choy, and sitaw. If you are unfamiliar with some of the vegetables and how to handle them, some basic guidelines are provided below:

Clean each eggplant. Cut off the ends and any damaged portions. When you chop it, all pieces should approximately be 2.5 inches long. Cut any larger pieces into quarters.

Chop off ends. Carefully clean individual bok choy leaves.

Snap ends.

Clean, then break sitaw with hands so that you are left with pieces about 2.5 inches long.

When you are done, leave your vegetables off to the side.

Step 9: Create and Add the Peanut Base.

Picture of Create and Add the Peanut Base.
Start your peanut base:

Empty approximately 2/3 cup of peanut butter into a large bowl. (We used a large measuring was handy at the time.) Pour the package of Mama Sita powder onto the sauce. Pour three cups of broth from the stew into the bowl.

Mix well.

Before you pour the peanut base into the stew, you'll need to remove any excess broth from the pot. Ladle out the excess until only 3 cups remain. Discard.

Now pour your peanut base into the stew.


Adding the finished peanut base to the stew:
(See pictures for individual steps.)

Step 10: Mix Your Vegetables Into the Stew.

Picture of Mix Your Vegetables Into the Stew.
Gradually add the vegetables you've just set aside into the stew. Stir as you add each.

Cook for 30 minutes more.

Step 11: Serve!

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Hey, food's done. Spread the love and share!

Grab some rice, and some bagoon, and enjoy.


andrei.n.dumaguet (author)2017-04-24

For our compatriots abroad who can't find that specific stew mix, it has been claimed that peanut butter is an acceptable alternative.

But if you really wanna go hard core old school, use toasted ground peanuts.

zeronone (author)2016-01-15

Nice instructable ate donna. I wonder how can I send you a message privately. Please do reply. Salamats.

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techieagent (author)2011-11-17

wow. I love kare kare. My ex always cook this for me. Geez I remember I'll make tagalog pick up lines just to convince to cook that dish. :)

bowow0807 (author)2011-05-12

who here has heard of the infamous street food "betamax"?

Goodhart (author)2010-08-02

Ah thank you, this looks a little different then some I had some time ago and am anxious to give this a try. Looks great.

tanyaregala (author)2010-06-27

Hi Donna! Your kare kare looks really delicious! I'm collecting a list of the best kare kare recipes in my blog, and I included your kare kare recipe (just a link though, hope you don't mind). You can see it at Keep in touch!

ShotPain (author)2009-09-02

well, it does not neccesarily have to be ox tail... i myself is a proud pinoy, looks can be deceiving this is actually delicious. try it with "bagoong" or shrimp paste, or fish sauce if you wish. it is a must have for this traditional dish.

kwini2005 (author)2009-03-08

i have made kare kare before but it wasnt like this. it turned out really thick coz the fam recipe called for the whole jar of peanut butter! my boyfriend loves filipino food and when i took him to manila this past jan, he asked if i can recreate the food that we had... this recipe is the easiest that i found, he actually helped me make it. he loved it!

igor (author)2007-05-30

Been reading instructables for some time now and it took this to make me sign up. Yes, Kare-Kare is yummy especially with salty bagoong. :D This version is similar to how it is also cooked in our house. I believe traditionally it was cooked in clay pots over a slow wood fire.

donnauwanna (author)igor2007-05-30

Glad to hear it! Perhaps the creation of a "Filipino Cuisine" or, uh, "Food of the Philippines" group is in order? Maybe that way more of us can share recipes with each other...

gunmanx (author)donnauwanna2007-06-10

me being fillipino i love the food they should make phillpino food fast food that would b cool

jongscx (author)gunmanx2007-07-23

Well, filipino food is neither "quick" nor "easy"... with the possibly exception of Adobo, Sio-Pao, and Lumpia (and of course our famous white-rice) you really couldn't have anything that someone can order and get cooked within 3-5 minutes. plus the main people who would eat there... Filipinos... would all go "Oy kaya ko din yan EH!" Roughly translated to: Why the hell would I buy that here?!? I can cook it at home.

I make siopao, but the process is quite time consuming. It takes several hours if I don't make the filling the night before I make the dough.

The only thing quick about siopao is eating it! Yummy!!!

Really? Try using those Pilsbury biscuits in a tube, and in a pinch, ready-made Chinese barbeque Pork (the sickly red-looking stuff) for filling. The most time-consuming part here would be the wrapping. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. Flatten the "biscuit dough" into a disk, put the meat in the middle. Now, think of the disk as a clock. Pinch 12 o'clock and 1 o'clock together, then add 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, etc. until you go all the way around the circle and you end up with this onion-looking thing. That's the best way we've found to make it look pretty and stay together. Then, put it in a steamer and expect it to double in volume (leave lots of room around it to expand so they don't stick together.) Left-over adobo, menudo, caldereta, or anything made from canned corned-beef will work as filling too. good luck

donnauwanna (author)gunmanx2007-06-11

I don't know where in California you're based, but there are a few Filipino fast food places that have franchises throughout the state. There's always Goldilocks (you can grab anything from adobo to pinakbet to sotanghon, as well as halo halo and yummy sweet drinks, and tons of Filipino deserts and pastries), or Jollibee, which offers, well, Fil-Am fast food (variations on "American" staples: hamburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken, etc, plus fast food versions of more traditional Filipino dishes like palabok, lumpia shanghai, longsilog, topsilog, and some dishes that are very much a product of serious cross-cultural synthesis--"sweet" spaghetti, Burger Steak (a burger prepared like bifsteak), etc...).

In the Bay Area, there are food court-y places like Manila Bay Cuisine, as well as other places like Manila Express Gourmet Fast Foods. Personally, if I had to go for take-out (meal-wise) from any of these (which, admittedly, is a rare occurrence; most of the dishes at these places are prep'ed waaaay too unhealthy for me), my bet is on Golidlocks (though I have no qualms about picking up their desert--it's awesome).

gunmanx (author)donnauwanna2007-06-11

o yeahh... lol i forgot and im from mira mesa so lol i shud have known

CementTruck (author)donnauwanna2007-05-30

Do it! I'll be the first to join. Excellent Instructable. Ever heard of Bicol Express, and Gulay na Kalabasa? They're my specialty. So much so they're usually what family members ask me to bring to Pot Luck parties. My favorite spice - Sili'ng Labuyo Baybeeeee(AKA Boonie Peppers). Can't beat it. Hindi naman ako Pinoy, pero 100% Bicolano.(Not a Filipino, but still 100% Bicolano.

varian1 (author)CementTruck2008-06-05

isn't kalabasa (squash) a gulay (vegetable) already?

CementTruck (author)varian12008-06-05

It's always been referred to as that as far as I can remember. Every vegetable dish made with coconut milk I've ever known is always preceded by the word Gulay, then clarified by the actual vegetable it's made from. i.e. gulay na langka (nangka for tagalogs - aka jackfruit), gulay na talong (eggplant), gulay na amargoso (bitter melon) etc. Maybe it's a regional thing. (?) The only variant to this that I know of is pinangat (laing - taro leaf, also known as elephant ear, or gabi). It's all good!!!

varian1 (author)CementTruck2008-06-06

i get it, in tagalog we call it "ginataan" (from gata = coconut milk), like ginataang kalabasa, ginataang langka.. yay gulay!

canida (author)donnauwanna2007-05-31

Please do!
I'll just be trying out what you guys put up, but I love Filipino food! Please teach me how to make it!

gunmanx (author)canida2007-06-10

try lumpia it taste realy good or try cheiken adobo with bay leaves its all awsome!!

canida (author)gunmanx2007-06-10

I've had it, and it's awesome. Want to tell me how to make it?

gunmanx (author)canida2007-06-10

ok this is a basic recipe for lumpia: -go to a store and pick up some flour rap (like the ones you use in egg roles) -grab some ground beef -take some ground beef and roll it up as long as you want -take your flour rap and rap it around the meat a few times then fry it and your good... remeber this is the basic style for more better stuff ask the guy who posted this

lol bagoong, Once I put a plateful of bagoong in the middle of the table, my sister saw it and thought it was corned beef, so she grabbed a spoon, and well.... ended up geting a spoonfull of SALTY bagoong in her mouth. She screamed so loudly. LOL

container_gardener (author)2009-03-04

"feel free to contribute, comment, or, you know...criticize. You know you want to."


I can't believe I found an instructable on kare-kare. Cool! When I was a kid, I thought that ox tail really came from an ox. *giggle* does. Well, Cows at least, which are close enough to oxen or even Kalabao (Water buffalo)

toninoname (author)2008-10-28

Count me in! i'm Filipino too. Kare kare tastes so good that makes me eat more rice. I saw another tasty Filipino food recipes on Enjoy!

JakeTobak (author)2007-05-29

That looks REALLY good, but the whole "ox tail" thing kind of creeps me out. I'd definitely eat it in a sec if no one told me what it was before hand.

donnauwanna (author)JakeTobak2007-05-29

Yeah, I grew up around Filipino food my entire life, and I'd say, to this day, that's still a frequent rule of thumb with some least those I'd like to enjoy. Dinuguan, for instance, is a dish commonly referred to as "chocolate meat." Finding out as a child that that wasn't chocolate giving the sauce its color kinda ruined it for me. So did someone telling me what the "tasty suprise" inside [http://balut balut] was. Kare kare, though, I happen to love. What can I say? Ox tail is tasty.

jessyratfink (author)donnauwanna2007-05-30

Oh wow, balut is gross. I can barely eat "normal" eggs... I mean, it might taste good, but I don't think I could ever put it in my mouth.

I used to love eating balut, I remeber biting their little heads off >:~) but for some reason, I don't like eating it as much anymore.

I live in the Philippines but I only eat the yellow part in the balut. The duckling is scary!

varian1 (author)donnauwanna2008-06-05

chocolate meat LOL dinuguan is a must for humanitarian vampires

LasVegas (author)JakeTobak2007-05-30

I guess that's why Campbell's changed the name of their Oxtail Soup (one of the original 4) to Vegetable Beef Soup. :)

donnauwanna (author)LasVegas2007-05-30

That's funny...I've always wondered why I was partial to Campbell's Vegetable Beef.

canida (author)2008-02-17

We're making this for dinner tonight! Updates as events warrant.

canida (author)canida2008-02-18

It was tasty!
However, I couldn't find my shrimp paste- someone apparently threw it out in the last clean-up without telling me. The sauce is pretty bland/mild, and really needs the kick. I added sriracha on the side instead.

Also, while I love gnawing oxtail, Eric found them weird and annoying. Next time he gets chicken or tofu in his bowl.

teh darkcloud (author)2007-12-14

Wow, someone made a kare-kare Instructable! :D I love kare-kare, too bad my boyfriend's allergic to peanuts, though. I never eat it when I know I'm gonna see him because I wanna avoid giving him the kiss of death. >.< But yeah, I dunno my mom's recipie but from what I can tell, the only thing different that I know of is my mom uses chunky peanut butter so there's pieces of peanut in it. :)

littlemog92 (author)2007-11-26

im filipino when i make kare kare my japanese friend always says add some msg and then pulls out a dead cat from her freezer horf!! i always seem to feed my american friends choclate meat they dont know what it is they eat it and they are happy lol

jongscx (author)2007-11-25

Nice... I love this stuff. MASARAP!!! Can anyone say Knorr? at least the beef-stock cubes for this one. I don't think we know how to cook anything that Doesn't use it. Now all we need is an Instructable on "chocolate soup" and we'll be set.

inquisitive (author)2007-09-29

Wow-even my Manila Mamang approved! The only thing different in my house is that my mom doesn't add the browned rice-she uses a little more peanut butter and yes Filipino Cuisine is tasty and some of it isn't for the faint-of-heart, but if you can't try something new-where is the real spice of life (but I draw the line at Balut-remember watching Mom eat it when I was little). My German/Swedish Father evan preferred Filipino Food-Mom has a little Hong Kong/Spain flava in her from one "mutt" to another....Salamat Po and Sarape

fincher (author)2007-05-30

ang masarap!! i'm filipino......too bad i'm vegetarian.

donnauwanna (author)fincher2007-05-30

Maraming salamat po! Actually, I try to be health conscious myself these days, so I've been playing around with a veg option. I'm pretty sure substituting tofu for ox tail and using vegetable broth instead of the broth that boils off the meat for both the stew and for the peanut sauce will work. Might be tasty to throw some okra in too. Which reminds me....I should probably get started on posting a recipe for pinkabet. Thanks again, though!

LiquidSkin (author)donnauwanna2007-06-01

or you could just make vegetable kare-kare ;) that's fairly popular in restos in Manila

canida (author)2007-05-31

This looks awesome! I'll try it asap- just need to pick up some oxtail. Around here (SF bay area) it's popular enough to be just as pricey as regular cuts of meat, unfortunately. I'm a big fan of using the (usually cheap!) odds and ends.

pyelitegamerro76 (author)2007-05-30

wow this looks great, great in depth instructable 10/10 from me

pjax (author)2007-05-30

don't forget to mention peanut sauce. that's actually the most important ingredient... not the ox tail.

btw the ox tail is good. wait till you add tripe or "twalya" as we Filipinos call it.

assasin (author)2007-05-30

Im Filipino to!!!

About This Instructable




Bio: independent filmmaker, pop-cultural theorist, puppeteer.
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