New Recipes

Filipino Kare Kare (Ox Tail and Peanut Stew)



Makes 6-8 servings
Recipe by: Divina Pe of Sense & Serendipity


Ox Tail

2 lbs ox tail
1 lb beef round or short ribs
Sea salt
2 large onions
2 medium carrots
1 stick celery
8 cups water

Sauce and Vegetables

2 ½ cups whole peanuts
1/3 cup Jasmine rice
2 onions
4 tbsp annatto oil (please see note)
2 Japanese eggplants
¼ bundle string beans
1 piece of banana bud/heart
6 calamansi

To Serve

2 garlic cloves
1 shallot
1/3 cup bagoong (fermented shrimp paste)


To cook the meat, heat a large Dutch oven or deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Then season the meat on all sides with salt. Add the oil to the pan and brown the meat. While the meat is browning, peel and roughly chop the onions, carrots and celery. When the meat has browned on both sides, transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and brown. Once golden, add the seared beef back to the pan. Cover the ingredients with water or just enough to cover the meat. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover and cook for about 3 to 5 hours or until the meat are fork tender.

At this point, I scoop out the meat and transfer them into a plate, then strain out the other ingredients. I cool down the stock and place them (stock and meat) in the fridge, covered, before proceeding with the recipe the following day.

To prepare the other ingredients, first remove the fat from the surface of the beef stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Next, toast the peanuts in a large pan, stirring occasionally until light golden brown. Allow the nuts to cool down and process them in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Next, grind the raw rice in a spice grinder and toast the in a pan until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a bowl with the ground nuts. Add enough of the hot stock to form a paste and set aside.

To prepare the vegetables, peel and chop the onion, slice the eggplants into 1-inch thick, on a bias, cut the string beans into 2-inch pieces and cut the banana bud half lengthwise, then into 1-inch pieces crosswise. Soak the cut banana heart in water with a little vinegar. Then, juice the calamansi.

To prepare the bagoong, peel and thinly slice the garlic and the shallots. Heat oil in pan over low heat and add the sliced garlic and shallots, and cook until soft. Add the bagoong and cook until the mixture is fragrant. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To cook the Kare Kare, heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan and sweat the onions, followed by the salt. Cook until the onions are soft. Add 5 cups of the simmering stock and peanut mixture, stirring with a whisk until combined. Then add the beef and let it simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Stir the mixture occasionally. Next, add the eggplant, string beans, banana heart and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add more water if the mixture is too thick. Add the calamansi juice, then season with salt to  taste. Allow to simmer for another 2 minutes and take it off the heat.

To serve the Kare Kare, ladle the dish into a bowl and serve with plain steamed rice and bagoong.

Cook’s Notes:

Atsuete Oil (Annato oil)

To prepare annato oil, simply combine ¼ cup of annato seeds and 1 cup grapeseed or rice bran oil. Heat up the mixture and turn off the heat and allow to sit for 1 hour. Strain the oil through a glass container and discard the annato seeds. Another option is to combine 1 tablespoon of annato seeds in ½ cup of hot water, and let it sit an hour. Then press the seeds with a spoon to extract the color. Strain the mixture and discard the seeds.

If you happen to use oxtail with the skin on and you’re not searing it, blanch them first to remove the impurities. When the water has come to boil, drain the ox tail and wash in cold water. Wash the pot and fill with some freshly cold water and add the ox tail back. Bring to a boil and simmer with 1onion (roughly chopped) and few slices of ginger).

For maximum peanut flavor, make sure to toast or roast the peanuts very well. You can also use peanut butter but make sure to get a really good quality peanut butter. You can use a combination of good quality smooth peanut butter and freshly ground roasted peanuts.

Some recipes would call for vegetables to be cooked separately before adding to the dish. In some restaurants, the three components are served almost separately by ladling the sauce first before arranging the vegetables and the ox tail on top of the sauce.

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40 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. David

    Yet another hit recipe and great article. I love anything oxtail seriously,i’d love to give this a try one day, i’ve yet to cook a Filipino dish. THanks for sharing!

  2. Elaine

    In Malaysia, we have ox tail soup. I love ox tail soup but this definitely looks different even though ox tail is used. Thanks for introducing us to this new dish.

  3. Another great post on Filipino food! Thanks Bee, for introducing everyone to more and more filipino dishes and to more filipino bloggers.

    Divina, great looking kare kare. It’s one of my favorites, yet I’ve never tried to make it myself. You’ve inspired me!

  4. Kare Kare is one of Filipino’s most loved dish, thanks to Rasa Malaysia for introducing another Filipino recipes. To the author good choice, I myself have not cooked Kare Kare from scratch for ages, great post thank you.

  5. Thanks every one for your comments. Traditionally, ox tails are just boiled until tender and cook with the rest of the ingredients. But I love to sear it to add more flavor to the meat. I’m sure there are other versions of this dish.

    And Marvin, I thought you’ve done this dish already. :)

    I think this dish is adding more or less of the ground peanuts according to taste and adding more or less water for desired consistency, and salt to bring the whole dish together. Some prefer a chunkier sauce, while other wants it really smooth.

    Thank you very much Bee for the invitation.

  6. I’m writing a pork adobo in pineapple vinegar recipe and I’d like to link to 80 breakfast’s adobo guest post when I saw this recipe in the first page.

    Kare-kare is, most probably, the most complex Filipino recipe but I find this version a little weird. You don’t use calamansi, carrots and celery stalks in the traditional kare-kare. But then, of course, traditional is traditional and there could be so many variations. I wonder how it tastes like ;-)

  7. Divina, your pictures are gorgeous. I couldn’t agree with Bee more. They’re mouthwatering photos. I love oxtail stew very much. But cooking the oxtail with peanuts is quite new to me. Actually, I haven’t had any chance of trying this classic Filipino cuisine. I can tell it must be very delicious from your pictures and recipe.
    Great sharing of both of you.

  8. sparksfly

    it looks so delicious, but it seems so complicated to make. the only filipino food that i have made so far is lumpia and it was amazing. hopefully i can make this one too.

  9. skip to malou

    Kare-kare is something i cook only on rare occasions because, yeah it’s way too complicated… but Divina’s writing a detailed recipe and the tidbits of info make me look at Kare-kare differently.

    This is a great post… awesome pictures too! Good job Divina, you’ve done it again!

    Thanks for guesting Divina! You ladies rock!

  10. I have to admit that I have never tried Filipino food (which considering the proximity of where I live to Philipines is a shame!).

    I wouldn’t mind to give a try to this dish with shrimps or seafood as Divina suggested.

    Great idea to invite Divina to do a guest post.

  11. Kare-kare is one of my favorite stews and I congratulate Divina and the editor for sharing this unique and hearty Filipino dish to the world. This is a wonderful site!

  12. Allan

    You’ve done an interesting twist to a traditional festive dish. Yes, the oxtail is usually just boiled. Further, Pinoys prefer it with the skin on. The translucent skin imparts a lot of gelatin into the stew so as to give it that characteristic “sticky-lips-feel” while eating it. LOL. I could never understand why western groceries or meat shops skin oxtail.

    Further, the rice used for kare-kare is glutinous rice and not jasmine rice. This is to thicken the sauce.

  13. issaline

    filipino food is a hard sell because they’re not very pretty presentation-wise but the flavors are awesome!

  14. Ebon

    Of all Filipino dishes, this is definitely on top of my list! Be it oxtail, beef tripe, shanks, short ribs, chicken and yes…….seafood. My idea of a sumptuous dish is kare-kare laden with asparagus tips, ong-choy, bok-choy and banana hearts, with fresh alamang (shrimp fries) cooked in coconut milk on the side.
    I like the idea of using the more fragrant jasmine rice instead of the usual glutinous rice. And adding the holy trinity of French cuisine to the broth?…Another layer of flavor?… Why not? This will add more depth to my favorite ulam (dish). But to add or not to add calamansi…well, that is my ?. Like “kotsengkuba”, I find it an odd ingredient in a kare-kare recipe.(BTW, kk, I like your username. It amused me.) Well, to settle this dilemma: The next time I cook (kare)2, I’ll set aside half of the sauce and give calamansi a try.
    Thanks Ms.Divina for sharing your kare-kare innovation.

  15. Joyce

    I’m Filipino and our cuisine is a pastiche of other cultures; Spanish, Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai. Although people may argue that this combination would engender a unique palate of flavors, it is on the contrary. There are so many influences that it loses its identity.

    Filipino cuisine does not have a signature taste like Thai cuisine has, however Kare Kare is one dish that I’m very proud of because of its complexity. The other dishes that I would highly recommend is Pinakbet, which is a vegetable stew with bagoong (shrimp paste), and Palabok, which is a unique noodle dish.

    • Helen

      How would you know that the Thais, Malaysians and Vietnamese never borrowed anything from our cuisine? Signature dish? Hmmm. Maybe search for Chicken Sinigang with Sampaloc leaves or Rellenong Bangus or how about Dried fish with Coconut Milk and banana hearts. The problem with food is that it’s pretty hard to pinpoint who invented what. The Balut while being the more popular name for the boiled duck embryo here in the US is also prevalent throughout SE Asia and you’d prolly have an argument if you told other Asians that they borrowed the idea from the Philippines. The patis or fish sauce AFAIK was invented in RP by Aling Tentay and it spread throughout Asia including Japan, Thailand, Vietnam etc. but they also call it by different names with slight variations in ingredients.

  16. Awesome recipe! I usually use oxtail for making pho. I also love the addition of short ribs. Yum… I’ll give this recipe a try next time I go to the Asian market. Thanks Bee for introducing us to Divina’s lovely blog.

  17. Thanks for comment everyone.

    Kotsengkuba – yes, it could be weird for some people. I added the celery and carrots to add more flavor and improve the aroma during the braising process. Try it with calamansi.

    Allan – I think I’m one of those people who doesn’t like the skin in oxtial. I admit I don’t like the feel of it. :) I bought with the skin already removed. I’m supposed to use glutinous rice but opted for jasmine rice. It’s harder to control the consistency of the sauce when glutinous rice is used. Sometimes I feel it’s not absolutely necessary to use the rice at all because the peanuts have its own thickening ability. Thanks for your input.

  18. Lexa

    Kare-kare is not one of my favorite Filipino dishes. It was never a common dish from the south where I come from. Though many find this a classic dish representing the Philippines, it was never one of my favorites. Believe me, this is not for everyone, not even for a local

  19. Thanks for the additional comments everyone. I think I chose a challenging dish and I believe Filipino chef and experts have a lot to say about this. Good thing I didn’t choose the simpler Beefsteak Tagalog although that is also good too. But Kare Kare is more open for discussion.

    @ Penny – thanks a lot.
    @ Mom-Friday – this is a great Asian site. There’s a lot of recipes you will love here.
    @ issaline – you’re right about that. I think it’s changing right now but still a bit challenging.
    @ Ebon – Thanks for your comment. My brother loved it with calamansi. Just a touch is good. Let me know what you think.
    @ Joyce – well said. Filipino food is melting pot of different cuisines.
    @ Lexa – a lot of people still don’t like Kare Kare even for some Filipinos.

    I felt that Kare Kare is a dish that although it is good, it will never be great no matter what you do. Just my opinion. That’s why some people don’t like it.

  20. droooooooooling!!! yumm! this is one of my fave fave pinoy food! and being in another country makes it only harder to have it waah! will soon try it but will just use beef because i havent seen any oxtail here *sign*

    thanks thanks for this!

  21. billy

    The calamansi does sound odd because it is not traditional. But in Pampanga, kare-kare is eaten with green mangoes and bagoong. In that sense a sour fruit, citrus or not, seem perfect with the dish. The sourness counteracts the blandness of the peanut sauce. Those who say they don’t like kare-kare should try it with the calamansi or green mango.

  22. Anthony

    One of the best I’ve tasted. The calamansi adds to its distinct yet flavorful taste to the kare kare. To those who are having second thoughts about adding calamansi to the dish, I would suggest that you give it a try. You won’t regret it.

  23. mareza

    this is my favorite of all and cooked this for family gatherings.i just add string beans,eggplant and bokchoy. i use the ready mix kare kare and
    the powdered annato and peanut butter.i also just boiled the oxtail meat with liitle salt.i’m not a good cooked but hey it taste really good…lol

  24. Bee! Thanks once again for featuring a Filipino dish here! I get so excited when I see a new Filipino post :) And kare kare is definitely a favorite (as is Divina’s site!)!

    Divina, fantastic to see your guest post…awesome job! Kare kre…wow, you are a braver soul than I! You have organized the recipe so well though that methinks I can manage it…thanks so much for sharing it :) And only you can style kare kare to make it look gorgeous, heehee :)

    Kotsengkuba, thanks for the linking! :)

  25. Kare Kare is a dish that I just can’t have enough of especially with a well prepared Bagoong AKA cooked shrimp paste. This food always brings back lots of youth’s memories in Manila when Mom used to cook the dish for us. I love the way the food was styled and photographed. Thank you for the post. More Success – Ray

  26. @Mikecondo, Makati.. Hi, so sorry for the late reply. I haven’t checked on this for a long time. I’ve never done Kare-kare with other nut ingredients aside from peanuts. If she is not allergic to cashew nuts (unsalted) then you can try that… There’s also soy nut butter sold at the supermarket… You may want to give it a try. The taste might be different though.. Just let me know how it goes. Again, my apologies.

  27. Joyce B.

    I am living in Tahiti right now and some of my friends who are French nationals asked me to prepare a Filipino dish for them to try. Thanks Divina for such a nice post of Kare Kare. You’ve got me! I have known this dish as complicated to do but you’ve shed light by sharing the 3 basic components. And thanks Bee for inviting her to write in your blog.

    I have the book of Marvin of Burnt Lumpia. I practiced his recipes at home and when mastered I cook for my karinderya each time I am in Manila.

    Mabuhay kayo!

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