Quick and Easy Kare-Kare

Just because you are using a halo plate doesn’t mean you can’t cook something pretty amazing. I mean this in the sense that kare-kare is my favorite food. Though I’m still worried about the cost of my electricity bill come the end of this month, that just can’t dampen the fact that I was able to cook my first ever kare-kare recipe using my mini kitchen.

This kare-kare recipe is pretty easy. Compared with the hours-long (even days!) cooking of the traditional kare-kare, my version took roughly around 30-40 minutes only and that already includes the preparation of ingredients and the actual cooking itself. I’ll be sharing to you my easy recipe which you can tweak and adjust to your own liking.

To start with, kare-kare is a Filipino dish that is my absolute favorite. The traditional version is something that looks like this and while I do like that, my current apartment and time constraints would not allow me to cook something as complex as that. That said, the only way I could cook my favorite food is if I can work around a few things and simplify what’s complex.

How did I make it possible? Check out the rest of this post as I also share to you this quick and easy kare-kare recipe.

Here are the ingredients:

Make sure you rinse all the veggies before cutting.
You should also run some lukewarm water over the beef, quickly rinse it before cooking

1. Beef – To minimize the amount of time you’ll need to cook this, choose lean beef strips instead of chunks. Think within the likes of beef salpicao.

2. Peanut butter – For this recipe, I used Lily’s peanut butter. You are free to choose which brand you like but it would be best to stick with the original flavor–those that are pure peanut butter and not half chocolate or with some swirly flavor. You can also use the chunky peanut butter variant if you want nuts to go with your kare-kare.

3. Eggplant – Rinse first then slice into small pieces. As you slice the eggplant into small tubes, slice them again in halves. Place these pieces in a container with lukewarm water to keep the eggplants fresh until before they are cooked.

4. String beans – Since there’s no sitaw here, I had to make do with string beans. ┬áRinse this too then remove the pointed ends. Slice into strips.

5. Garlic and red onion – Chop these for sauteeing. A clove of garlic and a small red onion will do.

6. Fish sauce – A tablespoon is enough. You don’t need that much to flavor your kare-kare because you will eventually pair it with #7 which is…

7. Bagoong – I suggest using a plain ginisang bagoong that’s already cooked and bottled as ready to eat. Barrio Fiesta and Kamay Kainan are two recommended brands I personally like. You can also try their spicy variants, if you want a little more kick in your kare-kare.

8. Olive oil – You only need a a couple of tablespoons for sauteeing.

OPTIONAL: You may also try to add pechay or Chinese cabbage. Instead of beef, you may also want to use pork or chicken.

Now, the cooking process.

Prepare your ingredients and heat the pan. Once the pan heats up, drizzle it with olive oil and heat the oil as well.

Start sauteeing the garlic. Give it a couple of minutes before adding the red onions. You don’t need to brown the garlic but just give it enough time to flavor the oil before you place in the onions because the latter cooks fast. Saute both for a couple of minutes then add in your meat.

Saute the beef with the garlic and onions for a couple of minutes or until it becomes a bit grayish. Be careful not to cook your beef yet because you will need to boil it.

Once the beef grays a bit, pour about 2 cups of water or just about enough to boil your meat in. Set your cooker on high temperature and place the lid on the pan to let the beef boil. This would help bring out its own broth which would provide the base flavor of your kare-kare, apart from the peanut butter sauce.

My beef took around 10 minutes to cook. You will know that your beef is cooked if you can slice through it using your cooking utensil. Once tender, remove about a cup of broth from the pan and set it aside.

Why the need for this? This would actually help you add in the peanut butter and make sure that you mix it well with the broth. By also removing some of the broth from your beef, you would be able to adjust the thickness of your sauce much better. So after removing some broth, add in your peanut butter.

Start with 3 tablespoons of peanut butter then mix it into your broth. If the thickness or thinness of the sauce is enough for you, place the lid back on to allow the mixture to simmer for about 3 minutes. After this, you can add in your vegetables and the fish sauce then let the mixture simmer again for around 5 minutes.

Once you’ve added the vegetables, you may need to occassionally stir the mixture and check if the vegetables are already cooked. Keep an eye on the eggplant. Once its skin changes from violet to something brownish, that means the veggies are cooked including the string beans. Do not wait for the eggplant to look soggy. At this point, I added the broth I removed earlier to add a bit more sauce to my kare-kare.

Upon seeing that my eggplants are already cooked just right, I turned the cooker off and…tadaaaa! Here’s my easy, less than an hour version of good ol’ beef kare kare!

P.S.: Cooking time actually varies depending on how cooked you want your veggies to be or how thick or thin you want your peanut sauce to be.

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