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[Recipe] Revisiting my Cashew Kare-Kare Recipe

Kare-kare is one of those dishes that I can't help but crave for from time to time. It has been a while since I have made my first attempt at cooking cashew Kare-kare so I decided to give it another go. I have to admit that growing up, this is not a usual dish that you would expect to be served in an ilonggo household but we do enjoy it occassionally at restaurants when we eat out.

I have encountered at least one friend from my hometown with absolutely no idea how to eat Kare-kare and have declared that it is probably the blandest dish he has ever tasted (at the time we were freshmen at Uni in Metro Manila having just graduated highschool in the Visayas). The secret of course is just adding enough of that salty/strong tasting bagoong alamang (sautéed fermented shrimp paste) in each and every bite to get the perfect balance as per your own preference.

I suppose a lot of filipino dishes are like that especially those that have sawsawan (dipping sauce) or classically paired condiments. The diner has the power to vary the taste of each bite to suit his palate.

Since the bagoong alamang is such an integral part of the dish, it can make or break a Kare-kare dish. Alamang by the way are very small shrimps (Krill?) caught in the sea. My favorite is bagoong alamang that is not so overpoweringly salty and sautéed with garlic and onion with just the hint of sweetness and heat. Others would fry a bit of pork fat and use the rendered oil to sauté the bagoong. This adds another dimension to the taste.


1/2 kilo beef tripe (cleaned and cut into strips)
2 big onions, roughly chopped 
6 cloves garlic, minced 
1 piece large eggplant sliced about half inch thickness 
2 bunches Pechay/Bok Choy (chinese chard or chinese white cabbage) with the base cut 
1/2 cup Sitaw (long beans), broken into 3 inch segments 
1 whole banana heart, properly prepared and roughly chopped *
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon annato seeds (atsuete)
3/4 Cup unsweetened peanut butter (you can make your own by pounding roasted peanuts into a paste)
1 Cup Toasted Cashew Nuts (lightly browned in pan with no oil), turned into a paste using a mortar and pestle (leave some larger pieces if you like to have some crunch)
2 teaspoons Spanish Paprika  
optional: water used in washing rice used to slightly thicken sauce or alternatively corn starch**
Bagoong Alamang (sautéed fermented shrimp paste) as side dish


Tripe may be purchased in a meatshop or grocery pre-cleaned and pre-cooked but usually you may need to cook it further in a pressure cooker until sufficiently tender. I would also advice discarding the water after the first boil just to minimize the typical tripe smell. Once cooked, drain and set aside.

In a medium skillet, dry pan roast the cashew until lightly browned. Turn into paste in a mortar and pestle and set aside. You may want to leave some large pieces if you want a bit of crunch in your sauce later.

* Refer to my previous post on how to prepare a banana heart for cooking in this link.

** An optional prep is to have some water used to wash rice set aside to help thicken the sauce.

In a medium sized pot, heat the oil in low heat and place the annatto seeds. Let the color infuse to the oil being careful not to burn the annatto seeds which would impart a bitter taste. Remove the annatto seeds and use the oil to sauté the onion and minced garlic until caramelized. Place the beef tripe and sauté for a few more minutes. Add some water (optionally can be the rice washing described earlier) just enough to completely cover the meat and let it boil. Upon boiling lower the heat and place the drained banana heart into the pot and let it simmer to soften for approximately 15 minutes. Place the unsweetened peanut butter, paprika and cashew paste and make sure you dissolve it into the broth. Stir constantly at this point as it may burn at the bottom. Add the eggplant, pechay and sitaw and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so or until the long-beans have been slightly cooked (still have that crunch and yet does not have that "raw" taste anymore). Turn off the heat. 

Serve piping hot with some of the sautéed bagoong alamang on a separate smaller bowl.

Note that this dish is intentionally bland as you typically eat this with the salty bagoong alamang. Place a bit of the shrimp paste on the side of your plate and try putting just a small amount per mouthfull. Adjust to your taste. Best served with freshly cooked white rice.

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