X Is For Ox-Tail Stew


There really isn’t anything I can think of about Old Manila that starts with the letter X – especially considering that X is not part of the native alphabet to begin with.  So I’m going to cheat and use a word that though it does not begin with the letter X, has a letter X in it.

X is for Ox-Tail Stew, or Kare-Kare, a popular Filipino dish that, as the name implies, uses ox-tail as well as ox tripe as its meat component cooked in a peanut sauce along with local vegetables like eggplant, green beans, and bok choy.

Guest post on Onecookbook.com by Raymund of Ang Sarap (A Tagalog Word for Delicious!)
Guest post on Onecookbook.com by Raymund of Ang Sarap (A Tagalog Word for Delicious!)

With its sauce of roasted peanuts, ground toasted rice and annatto seed extract, or for those in a hurry, peanut butter, it’s often accompanied by a small side of bago-ong, or salted shrimp fry.  The saltiness of the bago-ong enhances the flavors of the peanuts and the ox-tail just right.

No one really has a definite answer when it comes to learning about the origins of this dish, though some say that the name kare is Japanese for curry, and therefore is how it got its name.  But then, kari means curry in Bahasa Indonesia, and their dish is also eaten with something similar to bago-ong, called sambal ulek or sambal bajak.  Some say that it came from Pampanga, known as the culinary capital of the Philippines.

But wherever its origins, there’s no doubt that this is one dish, at least for me, that ranks up there among my favorites – though these days I make the vegetarian version below.

Astig Vegan's vegetarian version of kare-kare
Astig Vegan’s vegetarian version of kare-kare

A to Z April Challenge

5 thoughts on “X Is For Ox-Tail Stew

  1. I have fond memories of ox tail soup in the Korean version. My wife makes it on cold rainy days to cheer me up and it never fails. Your post, with those delicious looking pictures and delightful description, is the next best thing to having it right in front of you. Thank you!

    1. It made me hungry just thinking about it! In fact, tomorrow, I’m going to the Cambodian store to see if I can find that fungus thingy for the vegetarian version – although the real version is calling out to me, too 🙂

      I wonder what different ingredients your wife’s version would have. I love learning of the different variations of this dish!

      1. Yummmmm…:-) This is one of those dishes that has a few basic ingredients and then is modified to taste. This is what Tiger Mom makes for me and Willy Nilly. It isn’t instant soup. It’s prepared with great patience over the coarse of the day, but can be prepared early or in stages for a later serving.

        Soak the ox tail for two hours, remove from soak water and in fresh water, parboil oxtail. Replace water again and slow cook on low temperature until tender.

        Precook some chopped Asian variety cabbage and set aside.

        Cook short grained white rice or use a combination of black, brown, and white rice, keeping in mind the dark rice requires longer cooking than white rice.

        Soak Asian style radish in cold water overnight to remove pungent component. This is done so it doesn’t overpower the delicate ingredients in the soup and leaves the radish crisp and flavorful.

        When the oxtail is finished, fat content can be reduced by allowing the pot to cool and placing it in the refrigerator. The fat floats to the top and congeals. After the fat congeals in the pot, scoop it out and then return the oxtail to the stove. Bring to a boil and add onion and garlic. Don’t be stingy. When the onion is done remove from heat and add the cabbage, radish and stir. Add salt, Korean or Cayenne pepper, to taste.

        Place hot rice in a covered rice bowl and serve with the soup. In some cases the soup is brought to final boil in a crock bowl and the boiling soup is served in the crock bowl on a serving plate. Put as much rice as you want in the soup table side and dive in. Side dishes of Kimchee, bean sprouts, lemongrass, pickled radish or whatever is available are served with the soup.

        Tiger Mom will sometimes add green onion or leeks to the soup immediately before serving so they remain crisp and flavorful.

        Whatever modification one prefers can only make it better.

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