Kare-Kare: Filipino Ox Tail Stew




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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Start your peanut base:

Empty approximately 2/3 cup of peanut butter into a large bowl. (We used a large measuring cup...it 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.

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!

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

Grab some rice, and some bagoon, and enjoy.



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    50 Discussions


    2 years ago

    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.


    3 years ago

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


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hello there,

    We would like to add your blog to the Top Food Blog list in www.mytaste.ph/ . Your blog is impressively BEAUTIFUL and it deserves to be included on the Top list!! Great recipes!! We will feature your blog and we will make a lot of shout out about your recipes on our fan pages so that people and our 4million users worldwide will be able to check it on our site.

    MyTaste is a social platform for foodies and blogs/sites owners like you and it helps to reach more people, get more visibility on the web and share/save recipes. Some of the top food blogs receive at least 10,000 visits from us on a weekly basis.

    If you want to JOIN TOP FOOD BLOGS, here's the link>> http://www.mytaste.ph/join_top_food_blogs

    EXPOSE YOUR BLOG!!! Joining won’t cost.

    The World deserves to know how great a cook you are.

    Kind regards



    8 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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 http://kumain.com/kare-kare-2/ Keep in touch!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    10 replies

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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...


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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).


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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!!!