Easy Filipino Kare Kare

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Filipino cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors, colors, and textures, just waiting to be discovered. Among its many hidden treasures is kare kare, a dish that’s both rich and comforting. This particular recipe takes a shortcut to achieve that authentic taste we all aspire to. Say goodbye to the complicated process of making kare kare from scratch and hello to a faster, more convenient version that doesn’t skimp on flavor. Intrigued? You should be!

This easy Filipino kare kare recipe is perfect for those craving a taste of the Philippines without hours of painstaking preparation. It’s a simple concoction of tender oxtail or tripe, crunchy vegetables, and a velvety peanut sauce. The secret to this one-of-a-kind dish? A little something called bagoong, a funky fermented shrimp paste that elevates the kare kare to a whole new level of deliciousness. So, ready to embark on a culinary adventure through the Philippines? Dive into the next section and start your journey with this tantalizing, irresistible easy kare kare recipe.

Yield & Servings:

6 servings


2 lbs oxtail, cut into 2-inch piece
½ cup annatto seeds (atsuete), soaked in 1 cup warm water
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup rice flour
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
2 cups banana blossoms (optional)
2 cups string beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large eggplant, sliced
1 bunch bok choy (pechay), cleaned and separated
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Shrimp paste (bagoong), for serving

Notable Equipment & Tools:

Large pot or Dutch oven

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Simmer Oxtail in Water Until Tender

In a large pot or Dutch oven, place the oxtail pieces and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 1 hour or until the oxtail is tender. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

Step 2: Toast Rice Flour in Cooking Oil

While the oxtail is simmering, prepare the annatto water by straining the soaked annatto seeds. Discard the seeds and set the annatto water aside. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat. Add the rice flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it turns light brown. Set aside.

Step 3: In the same skillet, sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant and translucent.

Step 4: Add Onions, Garlic, and Annatto Water to the Pot

Once the oxtail is tender, add the sautéed onions and garlic to the pot. Pour in the annatto water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 5: Incorporate Peanut Butter and Toasted Rice Flour

Stir in the peanut butter and the toasted rice flour. Mix well to combine and thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6: Cook Banana Blossoms, String Beans, and Eggplant

Add the banana blossoms (if using), string beans, and eggplant to the pot. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Step 7: Cook Bok Choy

Finally, add the bok choy and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Step 8: Serve Kare Kare with Rice and Shrimp Paste

Serve the kare kare hot with steamed rice and a side of shrimp paste (bagoong) for dipping. Enjoy!

Substitutions & Alternatives:

Worry not, intrepid home chefs! If you find yourself without all of the ingredients listed in this delicious Kare Kare recipe, fear not! We’ve got you covered with some scrumptious substitutions and alternatives that will keep your dish packed with flavor and flair. Whether you’re trying to accommodate dietary restrictions or you just don’t have a particular ingredient on hand, these swaps will have you saying Mabuhay! in no time.

1. Oxtail: While oxtail brings a uniquely rich flavor to this dish, you can also use beef shank or any other tender, slow-cooked cuts of beef. In a pinch, even pork or chicken can be substituted.

2. Annatto seeds: Annatto imparts a lovely reddish hue to the dish. If you don’t have any, you can use paprika or a bit of tomato paste instead. You’ll still get that vibrant color, plus a bit of a flavor kick!

3. Peanut Butter: If you’re allergic to peanuts or just prefer a different nut butter, feel free to substitute with almond or cashew butter. Even sunflower seed butter can be used if you’re aiming for a nut-free alternative.

4. Rice flour: This ingredient helps thicken the sauce. If you don’t have rice flour, you can use cornstarch or all-purpose flour. Just remember to toast it lightly for added depth of flavor.

5. Banana blossoms: These are optional, but if you’d still like to include them but can’t find any, you can substitute with thinly sliced artichoke hearts or even hearts of palm. It’s all about the texture!

6. String beans: Feel free to swap these out for snow peas, sugar snap peas, or even asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces. Green is the name of the game here, so let your culinary creativity run wild!

7. Bok choy: While bok choy (pechay) is a classic choice for this dish, you can replace it with other leafy greens like spinach or kale, or even napa cabbage for a crunchy twist.

8. Shrimp paste (bagoong): If you need a fish-free alternative or simply don’t have any on hand, you can use soy sauce or fish sauce for dipping. Just remember, the goal is to add an extra layer of umami goodness to your meal.

Armed with these trusty substitutions and alternatives, you’re now ready to whip up a mouth-watering Kare Kare dish that’s truly tailored to your taste buds. So gather those ingredients, and get cooking! Your culinary masterpiece awaits!

Storage & Reheating

Congratulations! You’ve successfully whipped up a sumptuous pot of kare kare, and now the question is, how to store and reheat this delectable dish? Fear not, my culinary comrades, for I bring you the secrets of prolonging this Filipino delicacy’s scrumptiousness.

Let’s begin with storage. If you find yourself with leftovers (unlikely, but possible), simply transfer the kare kare into an airtight container – the tighter the seal, the better! You may also want to separate the sauce from the meat and vegetables, as this will help maintain their textures during reheating. Now, it’s time for the big decision: fridge or freezer? If you’re planning on devouring the remaining kare kare within the next 3-4 days, feel free to pop it into the refrigerator. However, if you’d like to save it for a special occasion or future cravings, the freezer is your best bet, where this delightful dish can last for up to 2-3 months.

Now, let’s talk reheating, the magical process that brings your kare kare back to life. If it’s been chilling in the fridge, simply reheat it on the stovetop over low heat. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent any sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot. For a creamier consistency, you can even consider adding a splash of water or broth.

If you’ve opted for the cryogenic approach (aka the freezer), be sure to thaw the kare kare in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. For best results, use a gentle simmer on the stovetop to coax the dish back to its original state of deliciousness. Again, don’t forget to stir occasionally, and feel free to add a bit of liquid if needed.

So go forth, valiant kitchen warriors, and enjoy your kare kare to the fullest, knowing that its flavorful goodness can be preserved and savored once again. Just don’t forget the steamed rice and shrimp paste (bagoong) for the complete experience!

Serving Ideas

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making this delicious Filipino oxtail stew, let’s explore some fantastic ways to serve Kare Kare to your family and friends.

1. Go All-Out Filipino: Embrace the full Filipino dining experience by serving your Kare Kare alongside other traditional Filipino dishes. Pair it with a tangy green mango salad, some crispy lechon kawali (fried pork belly), and a steaming bowl of sinigang (sour soup). This way, your guests can enjoy a symphony of flavors that truly represent the rich culinary heritage of the Philippines.

2. Rice to the Rescue: The creamy, peanut butter-infused sauce of this dish is simply begging to be soaked up by steamed white rice. Give your guests the option to customize their rice by offering a small bowl of annatto oil for drizzling and a sprinkle of toasted garlic for an added crunch.

3. Sassy Sides: Although Kare Kare is already loaded with a variety of tasty vegetables, consider offering additional sides to complement the dish. You can’t go wrong with a bowl of vibrant atchara (pickled papaya and vegetables) or a platter of refreshing cucumber-tomato salad. These sides help balance the richness of the dish and cleanse the palate.

4. Bagoong Station: Let your guests choose their own dipping adventure by providing a Bagoong Station. Offer different types of shrimp paste such as sweet, spicy, or plain, along with other condiments like fish sauce or soy sauce. This allows everyone to customize their Kare Kare experience to their taste preferences.

5. A Sweet Ending: Conclude your kare kare feast with a Filipino dessert like leche flan, halo-halo, or rice cakes. These sweet treats will leave your guests with a delightful lasting memory of their Filipino culinary journey.

With these serving ideas in your arsenal, it’s time to gather your friends and family for a memorable Filipino feast featuring your expertly crafted Kare Kare. So, what are you waiting for? Get cooking, and let the fiesta begin!

Variations & Customization

When it comes to satisfying your dietary needs and personal preferences, this kare kare recipe offers plenty of room for customization. Let’s explore how to accommodate common dietary restrictions and still enjoy this delicious Filipino dish.

1. Vegan: To create a vegan-friendly kare kare, replace the oxtail with a combination of tofu and mushrooms, like portobello or shiitake, for a satisfying meaty texture. Substitute the shrimp paste with a vegan version or use a mix of miso paste and soy sauce for that umami kick.

2. Gluten-free: This recipe is already gluten-free as it uses rice flour instead of wheat flour. However, be sure to double-check the labels of your ingredients, like peanut butter and shrimp paste, to ensure they are free from gluten.

3. GAPS/AIP: For those following the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) or Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet, you’ll need to make some adjustments. Swap out the peanut butter for almond, cashew, or sunflower seed butter. Additionally, avoid using eggplant, as it’s a nightshade vegetable. Replace it with other AIP-friendly vegetables like zucchini, squash, or carrots.

4. Keto: To make this kare kare keto-friendly, first ditch the high-carb banana blossoms and opt for lower-carb veggies like bell peppers, spinach, or kale. Use almond flour instead of rice flour to thicken the sauce. Lastly, serve it over cauliflower rice rather than traditional steamed rice.

5. No-Annatto Zone: Annatto seeds can be hard to find in some areas or may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. If you need to skip those fabulous seeds, you can still achieve a similar color and taste by using a combination of paprika and turmeric. Use 1/2 teaspoon of paprika and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric mixed with 1 cup of water as a substitute for annatto water.

With these simple tweaks, you can easily customize this kare kare recipe to fit your dietary needs and preferences. So, whether you’re vegan, keto, or just looking for a delicious dinner option, you can confidently whip up a pot of kare kare without compromising your health goals or taste buds. Enjoy!

Notes & Tips

  • Oxtail exploration: Oxtail might be an unfamiliar cut of meat for some, but don’t be afraid to give it a try! This flavorful and gelatinous cut adds a rich depth to the kare kare. If you’re having trouble finding oxtail, you can substitute it with beef shank or even short ribs. Just keep in mind that the cooking time might vary depending on the cut.
  • Annatto seeds and their vibrant journey: These magical little seeds are responsible for the rich, reddish-orange hue of the kare kare sauce. Soaking them in warm water extracts their color, and they’re used in various Filipino and Latin American dishes. If you can’t find annatto seeds, you can use annatto powder or even paprika as a substitute.
  • Peanut butter power: The secret ingredient in this recipe is peanut butter, which adds a creamy and nutty flavor to the dish. While you can use store-bought peanut butter, consider making your own by grinding roasted peanuts and a little oil in a food processor until smooth. You’ll be amazed at the difference in taste!
  • Veggie versatility: Feel free to mix and match the vegetables in this recipe. You can add okra, snow peas, or even baby corn for a unique twist. Just be mindful of the cooking times for each vegetable so that they all come out perfectly tender.
  • Time-saving tip: To save time, you can pre-cook the oxtail in a pressure cooker or instant pot to speed up the cooking process. This can cut the simmering time down to just 30 minutes!
  • Bok choy breakdown: Bok choy, also known as pechay, is a leafy green vegetable that is a staple in many Asian dishes. It’s added at the very end of cooking to maintain its vibrant color and crunch. Don’t overcook it, or it will become soggy and lose its beautiful green hue.
  • Shrimp paste party: Shrimp paste or bagoong is a fermented condiment made from shrimp and salt. It has a strong, salty taste that pairs perfectly with the rich flavors of the kare kare. You can find it at most Asian grocery stores or online. If you can’t find shrimp paste, fish sauce can be used as a substitute, but use it sparingly as it’s very potent.
  • Leftovers love: Kare kare tastes even better the next day, as the flavors meld and deepen. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and reheat gently on the stovetop or microwave.
  • Global culinary heritage celebration: Kare kare is a traditional Filipino stew that showcases the unique ingredients and flavors of the Philippines. It’s a perfect example of how diverse and delicious global cuisine can be. So, get adventurous in the kitchen and enjoy the wonderful world of food!

Common Mistakes

As you immerse yourself in the rich and flavorful world of Filipino cuisine, and attempt to cook this classic kare kare recipe, make sure to keep an eye out for these common mistakes.

Overcooking the oxtail: The oxtail is the star of this dish, and therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that it is tender and doesn’t turn into a chewy mess. Cooking it on low heat for about an hour should suffice, but remember to check for tenderness periodically. Feel free to use a pressure cooker if you’re short on time and want to avoid this potential pitfall!

Shortcutting the annatto water: Annatto seeds (atsuete) lend their vibrant hue and unique flavor to kare kare, so don’t be tempted to skip the soaking and straining process. If annatto seeds are unavailable, consider using annatto powder or paste. However, be cautious with the proportions to avoid overpowering the dish.

Neglecting the rice flour: Toasting rice flour is not only for a nutty flavor but also to thicken the sauce. Stir it constantly to ensure an even, golden-brown color, and don’t let it burn! If you’re unable to use rice flour, cornstarch can be a suitable substitute, but remember to adjust the quantity accordingly.

Overcrowding the vegetables: Though this dish is chock-full of veggies, it’s essential to give them enough space to cook evenly. Add them in stages, starting with the banana blossoms (if using), followed by the string beans and eggplant, and finally the bok choy. This way, each vegetable gets to shine in its own right, and you’ll avoid having a mushy mess on your hands.

Skimping on the bagoong: Shrimp paste (bagoong) is a quintessential Filipino condiment that brings the flavors of kare kare together. Do not underestimate its power! Offer it as a side so that each diner can adjust the intensity of their dipping sauce to their preference.

As you tackle this delicious kare kare recipe, remember to keep these mistakes in mind, and soon you’ll be cooking up a storm and impressing everyone with your newfound culinary prowess! Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t flawless. Embrace your inner chef, and soon enough, you’ll be mastering this classic Filipino dish! Happy cooking!

Health Risks & Benefits

Kare-kare is a delicious Filipino stew that boasts a variety of health benefits, thanks to its diverse ingredient list. However, there are some potential health risks to consider before diving into this vibrant dish.

First, let’s talk about the positives. Oxtail, the star of the show, is a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, such as iron and zinc, which support a strong immune system. Bok choy, eggplant, and string beans provide a hefty dose of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants to help ward off disease, while peanut butter adds heart-healthy monounsaturated fats to the mix. If you choose to include the optional banana blossoms, you’ll be adding even more fiber, as well as some unique antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Now, for the potential downsides. Kare-kare is often served with shrimp paste (bagoong), which can be quite high in sodium. If you’re watching your salt intake, it’s essential to enjoy this condiment in moderation. Additionally, annatto seeds, used for both flavor and color in this dish, have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. If you’re sensitive to annatto or unsure about your reaction, you can try substituting paprika or turmeric, though the flavor will be slightly different.

Overall, kare-kare can be a nutritious addition to your culinary repertoire, as long as you’re mindful of potential allergens and salt content. So, grab your pot and get ready to concoct a delicious stew that could impress even the most seasoned Filipino food aficionado

Recipe History & Context

Kare kare is a treasured Filipino dish with an interesting history and cultural significance. This rich and savory stew is believed to have originated from the culinary capital of the Philippines, Pampanga. The dish is the product of the ingenious creativity and resourcefulness of Filipino cooks who utilized local ingredients to create a unique and flavorful meal that has now become a part of the country’s culinary heritage.

The use of oxtail in kare kare is not only economical but also a nod to the Filipinos’ ability to make delicious dishes out of less popular cuts of meat. The combination of oxtail, annatto seeds, and peanut butter give kare kare its distinct taste and beautiful reddish-orange hue. Annatto seeds, also known as atsuete, are a popular natural food coloring and flavoring agent in Filipino cuisine, which adds a slightly nutty and earthy taste to the dish.

Banana blossoms (or banana hearts) are an optional, yet traditional ingredient in kare kare. They add a uniquely Filipino touch to the dish, providing an added layer of flavor and texture. The other vegetables, like string beans, eggplant, and bok choy, showcase the fresh produce abundant in the Philippines, and demonstrate the Filipinos’ love for incorporating various tastes and textures in their meals.

Peanut butter, while a seemingly unconventional ingredient in a stew, plays a significant role in kare kare. It not only adds a rich and nutty dimension to the dish but also thickens the sauce, making it velvety and indulgent. This culinary innovation is believed to have been influenced by the Spanish colonial period, where peanuts were introduced to the Philippines.

Kare kare is traditionally served with a side of shrimp paste (bagoong), which adds a salty and pungent kick to the stew, elevating its flavors to heavenly heights. The combination of the rich, nutty stew, and the tangy shrimp paste is a match made in culinary heaven, capturing the essence of Filipino cooking – a blending of cultures, flavors, and textures.

In conclusion, kare kare is a celebration of Filipino ingenuity and resourcefulness, showcasing the unique flavors and ingredients found in the Philippines. It is a dish that brings families together during special occasions, and a testament to the rich culinary heritage that continues to thrive in the hearts and kitchens of Filipinos around the world. So, gather your loved ones, roll up your sleeves, and dive into the delightful world of kare kare!

Common Questions

Can I use a different type of meat instead of oxtail?

Absolutely! While traditional kare kare recipes call for oxtail, you can substitute it with other cuts of beef, pork, or even chicken. Just remember that the cooking time may vary depending on the meat you choose. For example, chicken will cook faster than beef or pork, so adjust the simmering time accordingly.

What if I can’t find annatto seeds for the recipe?

No worries – if you can’t find annatto seeds, you can substitute them with annatto powder or annatto oil. To use annatto powder, simply dissolve 2 tablespoons of the powder in 1 cup of warm water and strain as directed in the recipe. If you’re using annatto oil, skip the warm water and use 3 tablespoons of the oil instead, adding it in step 5 of the recipe. Keep in mind that using annatto oil may slightly alter the overall texture of the dish.

Are banana blossoms necessary for the recipe?

While banana blossoms are a delicious addition to kare kare and add a touch of Filipino culinary heritage to the dish, they can be optional if you can’t find them. Feel free to experiment with other veggies like cabbage or green beans to add variety to your kare kare.

What is the best way to serve kare kare?

Kare kare is best served hot, accompanied by steamed rice and a side of shrimp paste (bagoong) for dipping. This combination enhances the flavors of the dish and creates an authentic Filipino dining experience, transporting your taste buds straight to the streets of Manila!

Can kare kare be made in advance and reheated?

Yes, kare kare can be made in advance! Simply prepare the dish as directed, allow it to cool, and then store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place it in a pot over low heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through. You may need to add a little water if the sauce has thickened too much during storage.

Filipino Kare Kare

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 690kcal


  • 2 lbs oxtail cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup annatto seeds soaked in 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups banana blossoms optional
  • 2 cups string beans cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large eggplant sliced
  • 1 bunch bok choy cleaned and separated
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shrimp paste for serving


  • Place oxtail and 6 cups water in a large pot. Boil, then simmer for 1 hour until tender. Skim off scum.
  • Strain soaked annatto seeds and set annatto water aside.
  • Heat oil in a skillet. Add rice flour, cook until light brown. Set aside.
  • Sauté onions and garlic in the skillet until fragrant.
  • Add onions, garlic, and annatto water to oxtail pot. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in peanut butter and toasted rice flour. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add banana blossoms, string beans, and eggplant. Cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add bok choy and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Serve hot with rice and shrimp paste.



Calories: 690kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 57g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 500mg | Potassium: 1212mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 6526IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 225mg | Iron: 53mg

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