Kare-kare is a stew served with a sweet and savory peanut sauce and commonly served with bagoong, a condiment made from fish fermented with salt. As the sauce is pretty bland, you use the salty bagoong to season it. As much as I hate eating bagoong, I love, love, love the peanut sauce. So I developed a workaround: I simply season it with salt and pepper during the cooking process.
This is the easy, busy weeknight version of kare-kare. Instead of using traditional meats like oxtail or tripe (which have a longer cooking time and are relatively more expensive cuts), I use ground chicken meat. Not only is this a cheaper and healthier alternative, by using ground meat my picky brothers are forced to eat more vegetables (as it is very troublesome to pick out the small morsels of meat).
- 1/2 kg ground chicken meat
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Cooking oil
- 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter*
- 2 packs kare-kare mix
- 200g eggplants
- 200g string beans
- 1 medium banana heart
- 200g bok choy
- 3L water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
*I use homestyle peanut butter made with peanuts, salt, and sugar. I like my peanut sauce with a hint of sweetness.
- In a large pot, stir fry garlic and onion over medium heat.
- Add ground chicken and cook until browned.
- Add water and bring to a boil.
- Wash the vegetables. Slice the eggplants into batons, the string beans into 3-inch pieces, the bok choy into small chunks (cut the bottom off first), and the banana heart into bite-sized pieces. (Prep the banana heart by removing the first two or three layers of hard leaves then slicing the bottom and top parts off.) Refer to the image below to see the cut vegetables.**
- Dissolve kare-kare mix with the broth and add to the pot with the peanut butter.
- Stir until peanut butter is dissolved. Make sure to watch the pot as peanut butter can burn and stick to the bottom, leaving a bitter taste.
- Once peanut butter is fully dissolved, cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add string beans, eggplants, and banana heart. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add bok choy and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot with rice.