Kare kare is a traditional Filipino stew with that is rich with peanut butter, oxtails and a whole bunch of fresh veggies. I’ve been craving kare kare forever, but unfortunately I have had ZERO patience to cook oxtails for 3 hours. I know I could just throw them in a pressure cooker and they’d be done in a quarter of the time, but pressure cookers also scare the crap out of me, so there’s that.
I also wanted to attempt to make it a little bit healthier, so I decided to use chicken thighs in place of the oxtails. This is a great alternative to the traditional version – in less than half the time!
If you’ve never had kare kare, don’t let the peanut butter scare you. This isn’t a sweet dish, but the peanut butter is definitely a prominent flavor. You can find both the annatto seeds or annatto seed powder and the toasted ground rice at your neighborhood Asian market (San Diego: I found both at Seafood City and 99 Ranch). If you absolutely cannot find toasted ground rice, you can use one of these handy dandy Mama Sita’s Kare Kare Mix Packets, which is what I usually use. This time around I was going for #TeamNoPacket / #TeamNoMamaSita. If you do use the Mama Sita’s Kare Kare Mix, omit the toasted ground rice, annatto seeds / powder and half of the peanut butter.
Chicken Kare Kare (Kare Kareng Manok)
makes 6-8 servings
1 tbsp annatto seed powder OR 1 tbsp annatto seed + 2 tbsp hot water
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
4 strips of ginger
1 onion, sliced
1 head garlic, crushed
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup toasted ground rice (see notes below for substitutions)
4 medium size eggplants, cut on the bias in ~2″ pieces
1 bunch (1/2 lb) long beans, cut 2 inches pieces
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp patis, more to taste
8 pieces baby bok choy
bagoong to garnish (optional)
If using annatto seeds, place them in a small bowl along with 2 tbsp of hot water and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the seeds and set the water aside.
In a large pot, heat vegetable oil. Working in batches, add the chicken to the pot and brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Add the garlic, onion and ginger ginger to the pot, adding additional oil if necessary, and saute until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add stock in chicken stock and deglaze the bottom of the pan (scrape up all those delicious little brown bits). Add in annatto seed water or annatto seed powder. Add peanut butter and stir until fully incorporated. Add in ground rice and stir to incorporate. The sauce should become thick. Add in chicken, cover pot and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (sometimes the ground rice can get stuck to the bottom of the pan and burn). Add in long beans and eggplant. Cook an additional 15-25 minutes, until eggplant is cooked. Stir occasionally.
Once eggplant is cooked through, add coconut milk and baby bok choy. Simmer until bok choy is cooked through, 5-10 minutes.
Serve with hot rice and garnish with a bit of coconut milk. Add a side of bagoong if you want to keep it trill.
You can find annatto seeds and annatto seed powder at Asian grocery stores.
You can substitute toasted ground rice for Mama Sita’s Kare Kare Mix . Only use 1/2 cup peanut butter if you do it this way.
This is also a great way to use up veggies. Throw anything you have on hand in.
Cook Time:45 minutes