Arguably the most famous hodge podge of colorful vegetables and meaty goodness, Kare-kare has long made a name for itself in Filipino cuisine. And while attempts to recreate this succulent, rich mix of string beans, eggplant and ox tail may take quite some effort, we continue to patronize this beloved dish. And why wouldn’t we? It has a delightfully mild but tasty peanut stew with vegetables that match its seasonings perfectly. But have you ever wondered what it might taste like when put together with another Filipino favorite– crunchy pork belly? The result is the ever-delicious Crispy Kare-kare.
This is a much welcome twist to the traditional Kare-kare, as it integrates a tempting texture of crunch and juicy taste of the pork belly. There are many other variations to the Kare-kare recipe. These can range from vegetarian renditions that mainly feature vegetables and meat substitutes, to spicy versions that include copious amounts of chili. But the Crispy Kare-kare is one of the most popular because it brings the celebratory taste of crunchy pork belly to the cozy feeling of the famed Filipino peanut stew.
Where did the famous Kare-kare actually come from?
What might actually shock you is that the specific origins of this traditional dish hasn’t been found. This is because there are multiple accounts contrasting with one another as to who brought the Kare-kare recipe to life. Indian cooks that came with 17th century British troops are credited with the idea of introducing this to Filipinos in one theory. Some have said that Kare-kare came from curry, and simply transformed into what it is today through the integration of peanuts and annatto seeds.
However, many have also credited Kapampangans for creating this dish. This is because this is among the province’s specialties, and they can make a great Kare-kare. But some have also said that Moro settlers introduced the dish to us before the colonization era.
Either way, we are incredibly lucky to have this amazingly fulfilling dish! And while it may take some time to make, we get a very fruitful result that’s sure to leave us satisfied. And what more with the clearly delicious taste of the crispiest pork belly?
Create an irresistibly flavorful bowl of Crispy Kare-kare with me!
Getting our crunchy pork belly ready:
Start by boiling 5 cups of water in a large cooking pot, and once it is ready, you can place 4 lbs of pork belly inside. Let this boil for about 35 minutes more, then you can take the pork out. Wait for it to cool down before you start seasoning it. For this part, we will be evenly distributing 3 tablespoons of salt across the pork belly. Wait for 5 minutes to let this soak in.
For now, we can prepare to cook. In a pan, heat up 3 cups of cooking oil. Make sure it is very hot before you put your salted pork belly inside with the skin side facing the pan. As you fry your pork belly, keep splashing 1 ½ tablespoons of water on the oil. Do this every 3 minutes or until the skin becomes crunchy and beautifully golden brown.
Then flip your pork over, and repeat the process. Once it is fully cooked, you can put this over a wire rack, and wait for the excess oil to drip completely.
Formulating our mild, salty-sweet peanut sauce:
Use a food processor to grind 2 cups of roasted peanuts. Keep doing this until you achieve a paste-like consistency. Set this aside so we can work on our annatto water. Soak ½ cup of annatto seeds in hot water for 5 minutes, and constantly stir this. You can stop stirring once it becomes a deep orange, then proceed to filter this with a kitchen strainer. Discard the seeds, then set it aside.
Now we will be heating 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a pan, and adding 3 cloves of garlic that’s been minced, as well as 1 onion that is chopped. Your sign to incorporate the peanut paste from earlier should come when the onion bits have softened. Then you can stir, and keep cooking for 1 minute.
Pour in 2 cups of water inside the pan, and then stir continuously. Keep this up until your mixture is smooth, and proceed to wait for it to boil. Once it is boiling, you can place your annatto water from earlier inside, as well as 1 Knorr Pork Cube. With the cover on top, keep cooking for 3 minutes, then remove the cover. We will continue to let this cook until the mixture becomes our desired consistency.
Now put 1 ½ tablespoons of toasted rice powder inside, and mix this in thoroughly. Now you can turn your heat off, and set this aside, but cover it to ensure that the sauce mixture remains warm.
Preparing the assortment of vegetables, and putting it all together:
For this, we will be using a steamer. As such, you should place 12 string beans, 1 cup of sliced banana blossom, and 1 sliced eggplant in the steamer, and let it steam for 5 minutes. Afterwards, you can add your 2 bunches of pechay, and let this steam for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Here comes the exciting part, as all our preparation will begin to bear fruit. Take your sauce and crispy pork from earlier, and arrange all of this in one plate with your steamed vegetables. Don’t forget to have this with some warm rice, as well as bagoong alamang.
Got all the steps down to making a uniquely appetizing Crispy Kare-kare? Well, if any questions happen to run through your mind regarding this recipe, that’s what the comments section is for! Don’t hesitate to type down any of your queries, as well as helpful feedback.
- Food processor
- 4 lbs. pork belly
- 5 cups water
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 3 cups cooking oil
- 1/2 cup bagoong alamang
- 2 cups roasted peanuts
- 1 piece Knorr Pork Cube
- 1/2 cup annatto seeds
- 1 piece onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons toasted rice powder
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- Prepare the pork. Boil water in a large cooking pot. Add pork. Continue boiling for 35 minutes. Remove the pork from the pot and let it cook down. Rub salt all over and let it stay for 5 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large pan. Once the oil gets really hot, fry the pork belly (skin side down). Note: BE CAREFUL! Splash 1 1/2 tablespoons of water on the oil every 3 minutes or until the skin gets golden brown and very crispy.
- Flip the pork and continue frying until the opposite side turns golden brown. Remove pork from the cooking pot and place it over a wire rack to let the excess oil drip. Set aside.
- Start to make the sauce. Grind the peanuts using a food processor until the texture becomes paste-like. Set aside.
- Make annatto water by soaking annatto seeds in hot water for 5 minutes. Constantly stir until the water turns deep orange. Filter the water using a kitchen strainer. You may discard the seeds afterwards. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan. Saute garlic and onion. Once the onion softens, add the peanut paste. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Pour water and then stir until the mixture becomes smooth. Let the liquid boil.
- Add Knorr Pork Cube and annatto water. Cover and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and cook until the mixture reduces to your desired consistency. Add toasted rice powder. Mix well. Turn off the heat. Make sure to cover the pot to keep the sauce warm.
- Cook the vegetables by steaming. Arrange string bean, banana blossom, and eggplant on a steamer. Steam for 5 minutes. Add pechay and continue steaming for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Assemble your crispy kare-kare by combining the sauce, steamed vegetables, and crispy pork in one plate. Serve with rice and bagoong alamang. Share and enjoy!