If you like Satay, try Kare-kare.

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Kare-kare was the first local dish to grasp my taste buds after moving to Manila. With a peanut butter base not unlike a satay sauce, the Malay influenced Pampanga favourite is usually made with oxtail and tripe. Although anything from pig hocks, chicken, vegetables to fish are well loved. Mild, rich and savoury, a typical Filipino comfort dish.

The ingredients are simple: garlic, onions, peanut butter, toasted rice flour. Salt, pepper, sugar, and Bagoóng – the Filipino fermented shrimp paste. Like anchovies, durian or Epoisses, it’s either passionately hated or wholeheartedly loved. Like many fermented seasonings, good Bagoóng is the ultimate savoury bliss, like in the trendy term – umami.

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wiki commons, by BrokenSphere

For the oxtail/tripe version, the meat and bone is first blanched then simmered with onions and pepper for hours until fork tender, the soup saved as broth and reduced into the peanut sauce. If fish is used it is first coated with flour then fried, set aside and added back in the end. I have made the chicken version here which is the simplest, satisfying a last minute craving.

Ingredients:

1kg – boneless Chicken thighs, cut into 5cm chunks

4 – garlic cloves, chopped

2 – onions, chopped

4L – broth/water

1/4 cup – roasted rice flour, as in rice flour roasted on clean dry pan until golden, or rice roasted then blitzed into powder.

1cup – peanut butter, or ideally, peanuts roasted then processed until creamy.

1/4 cup Bagoóng

pepper, salt, sugar.

1. Saute garlic, onions and bagoong (if using), this will help taking the edge off and add a great depth to the flavours.

2. Throw in chicken and brown, add broth, reduce by half.

3. Mix in rice flour to thicken the sauce, mix in peanut butter.

4. Salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Filipino foods love the combination of savoury and sweet so a good tablespoon of sugar won’t go astray. If bagoong is not used soy sauce can be added now to help bulk up the flavours, or “magic sarap” if you don’t mind the MSG.

And done. There are twists like calamansi juice, paprika and chilly, and typically it comes with salted water boiled vegetables like eggplant, snake beans, cabbages, okra and/or cabbage, cooked then thrown into the mix rather than served on the side.

A generous dollop of steamed rice, a little dipping dish of extra bagoong. A tropical comfort dish can be the cure of a stormy temperate winter night.

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7 responses to “If you like Satay, try Kare-kare.

  1. HI Claudia, glad to have you back ! I was surprised to read you know Epoisses, this is so rare! Nice recipe here, I hope everything is fine for you guys! xxxx

    • Hi Sophie! Yes it’s embarrassing how long it’s been;)… Epoisses is one of my favourites, we were introduced to it back in Macau. One day we’ll come to France and eat lots of cheese and drink lots of wine! Things are busy but fine here, you have to come visit sometime! 🙂

      • Yes, NZ for sure is on my list, thank you for the invitation. So, like you with France, we’ll come someday and drink whatever it is you guys drink over there, like… Kiwi juice….?!?!!?! I am amazed you actually found Epoisses in Macau, it is such an uncommon cheese that is not even to be found in every supermarket in France (it is a bit more pricey than most cheeses over here, so not all grocery stores have it). I can’t imagine its cost overseas!

      • Haha they make wine here too.. Not nearly the variety but some pretty decent ones too😂.. No Epoisses wasn’t in shops in Macau, we got it through our F&B friends, it wasn’t cheap but certainly a nice treat, although come to think of it prob not that bad as there’s no tax in Macau and we were getting industry prices.. If I remember correctly around 200mop/250, so 25euro ish? Another thing I love love love is some of the French butters, I think from Brittany? The creamiest yummiest ever, I’d eat it like ice cream..😋

      • 25 euros would be about 4 times what we pay in France for it. The butter you love love love, is it salty ? Most butters from Brittany are, but not necessarily when they come from other regions. But in all cases, eat it like ice-cream, seriously ????

      • Wow we do have to go to France and stuff ourselves! Hehe.. the butter came unsalted in the restaurant, ice cream would be a little exaggerating, but certainly big dollops on bread😋

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