Kare-kare recipe: this is how to get Filipino beef curry RIGHT!

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  July 12, 2022

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Do you like to eat curry? Then you’re sure to like kare-kare, or Filipino beef curry!

Kare-kare is a well-known dish from Pampanga, aptly hailed as the culinary capital of the Philippines. Its name is derived from the word “kari”, meaning “curry”.

However, kare-kare has a far different background from Indian curry. It has a similar flavor to satay because of the use of peanuts in the sauce.

This Filipino kare-kare recipe is a meat and vegetable stew with oxtail, beef or tripe, eggplant, banana buds, pechaystring beans, and other vegetables that are mainly flavored with a sweet and savory peanut sauce.

But keep reading to find out more about this tasty dish and all the ways you can modify it to suit your tastes!

Filipino Kare-Kare recipe
Kare-Kare beef curry

Kare-kare Filipino beef curry recipe

Joost Nusselder
This Filipino kare-kare recipe is a meat and vegetable stew with oxtail, beef or tripe, eggplant, banana buds, pechay, string beans, and other vegetables that are mainly flavored with a sweet and savory peanut sauce.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 5 people
Calories 659 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • lbs beef hocks or oxtail cut into 2” lengths
  • 6 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 bundle sitaw or long beans cut 3″ length
  • 2 bundles bokchoy / pechay
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 tsp achuete powder for coloring
  • 1 medium eggplant cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Bagoong or shrimp paste

Instructions
 

  • Boil the beef hocks or pork until soft. Set aside and reserve the broth.
  • In a wok, saute garlic and onion.
  • Add pork hocks and fish sauce. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of the pork/beef broth, salt, achuete, and peanut butter. Simmer for 5 mins.
  • Add the vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally.
  • Season with salt to taste.
  • Serve with bagoong or shrimp paste.

Notes

*** You can also use Mama Sita’s Kare-Kare Mix and omit 4 tbsp peanut butter and achuete powder.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 659kcal
Keyword Beef, Curry
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Check out YouTube user Panlasang Pinoy’s video on making kare-kare:

Cooking tips

To cook kare-kare, start off with sautéing atsuete or annatto seeds until the red-orange color comes out from the seeds. After this, remove the seeds from the atsuete oil and proceed with stir-frying the chopped onions and minced garlic.

Once these become light brown and aromatic, add in the ground rice, followed by the peanut butter. Continue stirring this rice peanut butter mixture, then add in your choice of meat.

The vegetables should be cooked in a separate stockpot to prevent them from getting over-cooked. Simmer the meat and peanut butter mixture, and then adjust the taste accordingly.

The beef kare-kare recipe can be made with roasted peanuts, ground peanuts, or peanut butter.

The smooth peanut butter is easier to work with, so I prefer it. But you can use a food processor to grind peanuts or use a mortar and pestle if you don’t mind a grittier texture.

Kare-Kare-Beef curry

Substitutions & variations

There are other versions of kare-kare where they substitute beef with pork.

Some use seafood like shrimp, mussels, crabs, and squid, and they call this version “kare-kareng dagat”, mainly because “dagat” means “sea”.

Kare kare can be made with oxtail, tripe, beef, pork, or shrimp. I’ve also seen recipes that use chicken, but I think that’s pushing it.

The best condiment for kare-kare is bagoong alamang or fermented shrimp paste. The bagoong alamang is sautéed with onions and garlic, and then sugar is added for sweetness.

Salt and pepper can be used as alternatives if you don’t like the taste of shrimp paste.

For a more exciting bagoong alamang, red chilies are mixed in for added spice. The saltiness and sweetness of the bagoong alamang balance and complement the nutty and meaty flavor of kare-kare.

The most common vegetables to use are string beans and eggplant. But you can also use other vegetables like squash, okra, sitaw (long beans), and pechay (bok choy). Vegetables like bok choy are rather bland, so they work well with the rich and nutty sauce.

If you want a more authentic kare-kare, use banana blossoms or heart of palm (langka).

Or if you want to add some color to your kare-kare, you can use red or green bell peppers. Saute them with the onions and garlic.

If you want a more filling meal, add some saba (plantain bananas) or talong (eggplants).

Annatto powder or atsuete is what gives kare-kare its characteristic red-orange color. You can find this in any Filipino or Asian supermarket. But if you can’t find annatto powder or annatto oil, you can use substitutes like paprika or cayenne pepper for a spicy kick.

Fish sauce adds savoriness and a little bit of sweetness to the dish. But if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can use soy sauce as a replacement.

Some people like a thicker curry sauce. Glutinous rice flour or rice flour is what makes the kare-kare sauce thick and creamy. If you don’t have glutinous rice flour on hand, you can use all-purpose flour or cornstarch as a thickener.

You can also add water or some beef broth to make the curry more flavorful!

Kare-Kare beef curry

How to serve and eat

Kare-kare is usually served with steamed white rice and a side of bagoong. The bagoong can be either alamang (shrimp paste) or guisado (stewed shrimp).

If you don’t like rice, you can also serve kare-kare with boiled white potatoes or bread.

To eat, take a small amount of rice and kare-kare sauce on your spoon and mix it together. Then, add some bagoong to taste.

You can also add other vegetables like eggplant or green beans to the dish. Add some toppings of ground nuts and chopped scallions for extra flavor.

Beef kare is a hearty curry stew, so it doesn’t really need many other accompanying side dishes.

Many Filipinos eat this dish as comfort food and serve it for potluck parties and family gatherings.

It’s also a popular dish to serve during the Christmas holidays. Just bring out a large pot of this curry and people will be pleased!

Similar dishes

There are other similar Filipino dishes to kare-kare, such as:

  • Pork kare-kare: This dish is made with pork instead of beef, and the other ingredients are the same.
  • Chicken kare-kare: This dish is made with chicken instead of beef, and the other ingredients are the same.
  • Seafood kare-kare: This dish is made with seafood instead of beef, and the other ingredients are the same.
  • Vegetarian kare-kare: This dish is made with vegetables instead of beef, and the other ingredients are the same.
  • Kari-kari: This dish is made with fish instead of beef, and the other ingredients are the same.
  • Kaldereta: This dish is similar to kare-kare but it’s made with goat meat instead of beef, and the other ingredients are the same.

Also, there are other curries that have a similar flavor to beef kare, such as:

  • Beef rendang: This dish is from Indonesia, and it’s made with beef, coconut milk, and spices.
  • Chicken curry: This dish is from India, and it’s made with chicken, coconut milk, and spices.
  • Beef massaman curry: This dish is from Thailand, and it’s made with beef, coconut milk, and spices.

How to store kare-kare?

You can store beef kare-kare in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.

When reheating, make sure to add a little bit of water to the dish so it doesn’t dry out. Reheat on medium heat until warmed through.

FAQs

If you have other questions, I’m answering them here!

What is kare-kare mix made of?

Kare-kare mix is usually made of powdered peanuts, annatto seeds, and garlic. It’s a powder mix with a strong peanut and garlic flavor and orange color you can use as the base of your dish.

What is in the Mama Sita kare-kare mix?

Mama Sita’s Kare-Kare Peanut Sauce Mix contains peanuts, garlic, annatto seeds, salt, and sugar.

Why is kare-kare orange?

Kare-kare is orange because of the annatto powder. It’s used to give the dish its color and flavor.

Annatto has a naturally orange-reddish color and it’s also used as a food coloring.

Is kare-kare healthy?

Kare-kare is a hearty dish that’s packed with protein and vegetables. It’s a filling meal that can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation.

The ingredients are generally healthy, but the dish can be high in fat and calories, depending on how it’s prepared.

So the overall opinion is that there are many high-fat ingredients in this dish. But as long as you don’t eat it every day, you’ll be just fine!

What is kare-kare in English?

Kare-kare still has the same name in English and there’s no other name for it.

Is kare-kare made of peanut butter?

No, kare-kare isn’t made of peanut butter. It’s made with peanut butter or powdered peanuts, annatto seeds, and garlic. It’s a powder mix with a strong peanut and garlic flavor and orange color you can use as the base of your dish.

The most important component of the dish is the curry sauce and the beef, tripe, or oxtail.

Is kare-kare a Spanish dish?

No, kare-kare isn’t a Spanish dish. Kare-kare is a Filipino dish that’s made with beef, tripe, or oxtail in a peanut sauce.

Filipinos have various recipes for this tender meaty dish. But the taste is similar and the recipes require broth, peanut sauce, meat, annatto, and vegetables.

Try this Philipino version of curry

Now that you know how to make beef kare-kare, it’s time to try it out for yourself! This hearty dish is perfect for a family dinner or a party.

Don’t forget to serve it with bagoong and steamed white rice. You can also meal prep it to serve it for family lunches and dinners.

What’s special about this kare-kare recipe is that there’s no long prep time or cooking time. So you’ll have a yummy meal in no time!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.