What a lot of my readers, and people in general don’t know is that one side of my family originated from the Philippines, and the other from Ecuador. Although I am not filipino in blood, I grew up with the culture. I grew up with only tidbits of the language, but with a majority of it’s food, customs and mannerisms. One of my childhood memories with always be my Auntie Peachy’s Kare Kare. I can picture her in my old kitchen with the giant wok and wooden spoon, spending the afternoon in the kitchen just to give us kiddies a taste of her filipino specialty. She is the best filipino cook in my family, in my honest opinion, so she was the one person I was nervous to serve this version to, and the only reason why this made it to my blog was because I received her approval, and her request for this recipe 😉
For those of you who are not familiar with Kare Kare, it is a filipino peanut stew, colored with annatto, thickened with ground rice, flavored with meats and gulay (vegetables), and served with bagoong (shrimp paste) and rice. The stew is traditionally made from a base of stewed oxtail, pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef stew meat and occasionally offal, or tripe. Yuck, right? I can’t believe I used to eat this stuff, ALL THE TIME. Sorry to make you lose your appetite.
In order to veganize this recipe, I turned to Astig Vegan, a genius filipino vegan chef that is doing amazing things over on her blog. She has veganized tons of family favorites, including Kare Kare. Bagoong is a filipino condiment made of fish or shrimp. It is a paste that is paired with various dishes, with Kare Kare being one of them. I’ll be honest and say that I grew up disliking bagoong, and I still to this day am not even a fan of it. I will always remember the distinct odor and flavor of it, and the Astig Vegan bagoong (made from nori) was spot on. My aunties enjoyed it with their kare kare, but I left it out. They also tried it with green mango, which is also a traditional filipino favorite, and they were quite surprised by their enjoyment of this vegan item. I love when my family is introduced to healthier and ethical alternatives that they enjoy, it always just makes me smile!
If you would like to make your own version of bagoong, there is a recipe here.
Make this for your families and let me know what they think! I always love feedback, especially on traditional dishes like this one.
Prepare the Annatto Mixture: Dissolve 1 tablespoon achiote or annatto powder in 3 tablespoons warm water, whisking until powder is well dissolved. Let it sit for awhile. If using annatto seeds, please see notes.
Prepare the vegetables: Wash and dry all of the vegetables. Onion: peel and slice into thin strips. Zucchini and eggplant: trim the ends, half lengthwise, and cut into 2-inch slices. Bokchoy: remove the ends and separate the leaves. Green Beans: remove the ends and cut in half.
Peanuts: Grind them in a high speed blender or food processor until fine, but do not to overprocess into a paste.
Brown rice: Place the rice in a skillet over medium heat, and stir constantly until lightly browned and aromatic (6 to 8 minutes). Cool and grind in a high speed blender or food processor until finely ground.
Heat oil or broth in a large wok over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions about 6 to 8 minutes until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Stir in eggplant, zucchini and beans and cook for 5 minutes. Add coconut aminos and 2 tablespoons of water, and sauté for 8 minutes until the eggplants are almost translucent.
Add the ‘annatto mixture’, ground peanuts, broth, ½ cup of water, and ground rice. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid for 10 minutes. Add peanut butter and stir until uniform, then add in the banana blossom and bok choy and let them simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the bok choy is soft.
Add in the spinach, cover, and turn off the heat. Allow it to sit covered for 5 minutes so that the spinach can soften.
Serve the stew with cooked rice and vegan bagoong .
Oil: Instead of oil, I used vegetable broth and added as much as I needed to prevent burning.
Annatto powder or annatto seeds: If you can’t find the brand I used, check out this one. Dissolve 1 tablespoon annatto powder in 3 tablespoons warm water, whisking until dissolved. If you are using powder without cornstarch, add more toasted ground jasmine rice to thicken the stew.
Add more broth if you want the stew to be more soup-like, or toasted ground rice to be thicker.
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