Aren't Tagalog names for food just adorable? There's lumpia (pronounced loom-pia), halo-halo and my favorite - bibinka (bee-bin-ka). Maybe it's the little advertiser in me, but food just tastes better when the names are cool. The cute name for this dish is kare-kare (pronounced car-ree career) and it is one of my favorites.
This isn't the food I grew up eating. Sure, I had the occasional pancit (Filipino stir fry noodles) or lumpia (Filipino egg rolls), but I didn't really discover Filipino food or culture until I was an adult. Most of what I learned about being Filipino was through asking questions or just trying to research it on my own. There is still a lot I don't know about Filipino culture, but from cooking my way through recipes, doing research, and taste testing with my mom, I've been able to discover a little bit about my heritage.
Kare-Kare is essentially a peanut and vegetable stew seasoned with earthy annatto powder, garlic and soy sauce. Don't worry, annatto is available at most grocery stores. Any veggie combo will work, but our must-haves are eggplant for the meatiness and baby bok choy, because well, we just love bok choy. This recipe is also traditionally made with ground peanuts and ground rice, but let's be honest – ain't nobody got time for that (except maybe an auntie). This is definitely a quick and easy version of the slow cooked stuff.
Typically this stew is made with pork, but I'll give you a little secret when recipes call for pork - add a little soy sauce with a hint of liquid smoke, maybe a little extra pepper or smoked paprika and you'll get that satisfying taste of slow cooked meat, but without the meat. Like I've said before, this isn't 100% authentic Filipino food, but I'm not 100% Filipino either. 😉
Serve this dish with a heaping bowl of brown rice, vinegar, and chili paste.
Kare-Kare [Filipino Peanut and Vegetable Stew]
- 1 cup green beans, cut into small pieces
- 1 Chinese eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1/4 kabocha squash or 1 cup butternut squash, cut into small cubes
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (you can also use olive oil)
- 1 tbsp annatto or achiote powder
- 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 3-4 cups homemade or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts for garnish
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 3 bundles baby bok choy, wash well, remove the ends and separate out the leaves
- 1 cup bamboo shoots (optional)
- 1 tbsp agave
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
- Cooked brown rice as a side dish
1. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
2. In a small bowl, mix annatto powder with 3 tbsp water.
2. Stir in the eggplant, green beans, and kabocha squash. Add in soy sauce and 1/4 cup water. Cook until eggplant is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in annatto mix, peanut butter, liquid smoke, agave and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, until kabocha has softened. Add bok choy and bamboo shoots. Let cook for another 5-10 minutes until bok choy has softened. Add more veggie broth if you want more of a soup than a stew.
3. Top with chopped peanuts and serve with vinegar, chili paste, and brown rice for the ultimate Filipino experience!