Kare-Kare (Filipino-style Peanut Beef Stew)

photo credit (c) 2017 by Tristan Sullivan
I decided to pay homage to my ethnic roots by recreating kare-kare (a Filipino-style peanut oxtail stew).  This savory dish is a favorite of every Filipino – who can resist that rich, velvety peanut sauce covering that fall-off the bone oxtail and veggies, steaming your face with a nice, hefty spoonful of rice?

Knowing my people, they LOVE their fats – and kare-kare is definitely a perfect example of a Filipino’s addiction to greasy comfort food.  After studying various recipes for kare-kare, it was clear that the oxtail and peanut butter added to this dish was definitely a heart attack on a plate (the stray eggplant, string beans, and occasional bok choy swimming in the sauce didn’t make it any better).  Since this was one of my best friend’s favorite Filipino dishes and he wanted to be able to eat this in a healthier, macro-friendly version, I was up for the challenge!

I made a few swaps – rather than using oxtail (which has a lot of fat), I substituted lean chuck and braised the meat low and slow to simulate that fall-off-the-bone texture; instead of peanut butter, I used powdered peanut butter, which definitely decreased the fat.  However, in order to hit the 30% fat limit, I replaced the fat that would’ve come from the peanut butter and the oxtail with olive oil (which is a better, heart-healthy fat).  All-in-all, it tasted just like the original, fatty version, but without all the bad stuff! 🙂

If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend this dish – anyone (Filipino or otherwise) who loves this dish and is on a restricted diet should try this version.  Enjoy!  🙂

(makes 8 servings)

1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
8 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
20 oz. lean chuck, cubed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. fish sauce 
1 pound eggplant, cubed
1 pound string beans, chopped
5/8 cup powdered peanut butter (PB2-brand recommended)

1.  Cook brown rice as directed (with 3 cups water) in a rice cooker or pot.
2.  Cut eggplant in 1-inch sized cubes and the string beans to approximately 2-inches in length.
3.  In a separate pot under medium-high heat, add 1/8 cup olive oil and saute garlic and onions for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
4.  Add meat, salt and pepper and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until meat has been seared on all sides.
5.  Add 4 cups water and fish sauce.  Lower temperature to low heat and cover the pot.  Let the meat braise for 2-3 hours, or until meat falls apart with a fork.
6.  In a small container, mix powdered peanut butter, remaining water and remaining olive oil and stir until smooth.
7.  Increase temperature to medium heat and add eggplant, string beans and peanut butter mixture in the pot.  Cover and let stew simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables have cooked thoroughly.
8.  Remove vegetables and meat and set aside in a separate container.  Under high heat, reduce the peanut sauce in the pot by half (this should take 15-20 minutes).
9.  Before serving, mix the meat and vegetables with the sauce.  Serve with brown rice.



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