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, I 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:
- 1 tbsp garlic, crushed
- 1 large white onion, quartered
- 1 banana blossom, sliced
- 2 pcs eggplant, sliced
- 1 bundle pechay or Filipino bokchoy
- 1 bunch of Chinese Snow Fungus, soaked in water
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup roasted peanuts, finely grounded
- 1/2 cup roasted jasmine rice, finely grounded
- 1/2 cup string beans, cut to 2 inch slices
- 1/2 cup achuete or annato powder, fully dissolved in a 1/2 cup water
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 4-5 tbsp soy sauce
- 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 outer layers, then slice the bud in six portions. Quickly soak them in water with salt otherwise its sap will turn black.
- Roast the jasmine rice in a pan over medium heat. Constantly stir for about 20 minutes or until rice is 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.
- In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth and anatto powder to a boil.
- Meanwhile in a pan, saute the garlic with oil until fragrant. Followed by onions.
- Add the eggplant, banana blossom, and soy sauce to the pan. Saute for another 10 minutes. Transfer the saute to the boiling pot.
- Add the ground rice, ground peanuts and peanut butter. Mix and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the rest of the vegetables: pechay, string beans, and Snow Fungus. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Adjust the taste and consistency of the sauce by adding more vegetable broth or grounded peanuts. The sauce should be thick but not too gooey. The taste should be savory but not overpowering. Simmer until boiling.
- Turn off the heat. Serve hot with black bean sauce and rice on the side.
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