Kare-kare is a Filipino stew with ox tail, tripe, and vegetables in thick peanut sauce. It’s usually served during special occasions perhaps because the procedure takes too many steps. With the help of my mom, we both re-invented Kare-Kare to a vegan dish full of soulful flavor and familiar taste.
Kare-kare is best served with shrimp paste or bagoong and steamed rice on the side. As alternative to bagoong, you could used fermented black bean sauce with garlic.
Compared to the traditional version, this vegan recipe doesn’t cost much to make. Also, Kare-kare is notorious for going bad right away. The vegan version, however, can stay outside the fridge without getting spoiled instantly.
To replace the beef tripe, I resorted to something innovative found at vegan Vietnamese restaurants: Chinese Snow fungus. After soaking it in water, the chewy fungus provides the same texture as tripe minus the cruelty. Not to mention incorporating Snow fungus provides tremendous health benefits. In fact it is considered as a Chinese medicinal herb. Win-win all around.
Here’s what the package looks like:
- 1 banana blossom bud
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and minced
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 6 cups water
- 2 eggplants, sliced
- 1 /2 cup vegetable broth or more to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons achuete or annato powder, fully dissolved in 2 cups water
- 1 cup ground toasted peanuts. Peanut butter is okay alternative.
- ½ cup ground toasted white rice, mixed in 1 cup water (make sure there are no lumps in the mixture)
- 1 small bunch long beans, cut to 2-inch slices, ends removed
- 6 pieces dried snow fungus, soaked in water
- 1 bundle bokchoy, washed and bottom sliced off
- 3-6 tablespoons fermented black bean sauce (as condiment)
- Peel outer layers of banana blossom until you reach the pale pink, tender bud. Discard outer layers and yellow pistils or use as decor for plating. Have a large bowl of salt water nearby. Oil your knife and cutting board to prevent sap from sticking. Cut off stem and slice bud in half lengthwise. Cut in chunks and immediately submerge the banana blossom in salt water. Soak for at least 10 minutes. Discard water and rinse thoroughly.
- In a large pot, saute garlic with oil until fragrant. Follow with onions.
- Add banana blossom, eggplant, water, vegetable broth, and achuete mixture. Mix and simmer until eggplant and banana blossom are tender.
- Mix in ground peanuts and rice mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add more water one cup at a time until consistency is creamy.
- Adjust seasoning by adding more vegetable broth or ground peanuts to taste.
- Add long beans, snow fungus, and bok choy. Put to a boil and turn off heat.
- Serve hot preferrably with rice and black bean sauce on the side.
You could use peanut butter instead of toasted peanuts and rice. Just make sure the peanut butter is mainly peanuts and water.
You could find snow fungus at most Asian grocery stores.