Kare-kare is a Filipino stew with ox tail, tripe, and vegetables in thick peanut sauce. It’s usually served during special occasions perhaps because the procedure is painstakingly delicate. With the help of my mom, we both re-invented Kare-Kare to a vegan dish full of soulful flavor and familiar taste.
Kare-kare is best served with shrimp paste or bagoong and steamed rice on the side. As alternative to bagoong, you could used fermented black bean sauce with garlic, which worked out well.
As opposed to the traditional version, this vegan recipe doesn’t cost much to make. Also, Kare-kare is notorious for going bad right away. The vegan version, however, can stay outside the fridge without getting spoiled instantly.
To replace the beef tripe, I resorted to something innovative found at vegan Vietnamese restaurants: Chinese Snow fungus. After soaking it in water, the chewy fungus provides the same texture as tripe minus the cruelty. Not to mention incorporating Snow fungus provides tremendous health benefits. In fact it is used as an herb in Chinese medicine. Win-win all around.
Here’s what the package looks like:
Makes 6-8 servings
- 2 tbsp garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 banana blossom, sliced
- 2 pcs eggplant, sliced
- 1 bundle pechay or Filipino bokchoy
- 6 pcs of Chinese Snow Fungus, soaked in water
- 1 cup toasted peanuts, powdered using a food processor
- 1/2 cup toasted white rice, powdered using a food processor
- 1 small bunch string beans, cut to 2 inch slices
- 2-3 tbsp. achuete or annato powder, fully dissolved in a 1/2 cup water
- 1 /2 cup vegetable broth or 4 tbsp vegetable buillon broth powder
- cooking oil
- 3-6 tbsp fermented black bean garlic sauce (as condiment), available at most grocery stores
- On cutting the banana blossom, first peel the 3-5 outer layers. Smear your knife with lemon or lime juice then slice the bud in six portions. Quickly soak the banana bud in water with salt, otherwise its sap will turn black.
- Toast the rice and peanuts on a pan over medium heat. Constantly stir for about 15 minutes or until rice and peanuts are fully light brown. Pulverize in a food processor. Set aside.
- The annatto powder doesn’t dissolve instantly in water so soak for about 20 minutes before using (or you may whisk it to constantly dissolve).
- In a large pot, saute the garlic with oil until fragrant. Followed by onions.
- Add the eggplant, 8 cups of water, and vegetable broth and put to a boil to soften the eggplant.
- Once the eggplant is soft, add the banana blossom, string beans, and snow fungus.
- Add more water (about 4 more cups) then add the ground rice and peanuts. Mix and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Adjust the taste and consistency of the sauce by adding more vegetable broth or ground peanuts. The sauce should be thick but not too gooey. If it gets too thick, add more water until it loosens up.The taste should be savory but not overpowering. Simmer until boiling.
- Add the bok choy or pechay. Mix to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Turn off the heat. Serve hot with black bean sauce and rice on the side.