Seafood Kare Kare soup is reduced to a garlicky funky peanut sauce and mixed with Japanese Udon noodles. It’s a match made in foodie heaven.
I like re-imagining Filipino recipes into different format. See Tinola Potato Soup and Palabok Potato Salad for reference. Each of these recipes still have the same flavor profiles, but just cooked and presented in a different way.
Seafood Kare Kare is another recipe I wanted to eat differently. There is something nostalgic about tasting something familiar, yet looks different. It might actually make you or someone else smile.
When I was living in Singapore the Hawker Centers there have a concept of gravy and no gravy with some of their noodle dishes. Gravy to them isn’t the traditional stuff you put on Turkey. Gravy in this instance is refereed to as the sauce or the broth of the dish. With gravy means you want the noodles almost close to soupy. No gravy means you just want a light coat of sauce just kissing the noodles.
I thought it would be fun to take the Seafood Kare Kare soup and reduce it down to a sauce and add some noodles to them. Not any kind of noodle – it had to the be Udon as it’s the perfect vehicle to a sauce with intense flavor. Udon just soaks it up like a sponge.
A bit of a back quick story on Kare Kare. There is no official record on how this dish was created. There are 3 theories of where this dish originated from in the Philippines. I’m going to talk about one that in my opinion is most true. There is a loose theory that this dish originated from Sepoys (Indian Soldiers serving under British or European orders) in the 1760’s. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Some decided to stay and settle and the story is that once the spices they brought over ran out they used what was available to try and make the curry from home. Peanuts and toasted rice were ground to flavor and thicken the stew and achuete (annato) was used to get the color. For the extra flavor punch the stew was served with bagonog (fermented shrip paste).
The name might of been derived from curry or kari. It was called Kare-Kare because it’s kinda like curry, but not really, so may-be??? I think you are supposed to say it with a shrug. 🤷🏽♀️
Now it’s time to cook. First we start with the sauce and distill it to it’s essential components:
In a large wok or pot cook the minced garlic and onion with the olive on low heat until fragrant and translucent. About 3 minutes.
Add in the achuete powder and cook for another minute to release the flavor. Add in the peanut butter and water and mix well. Stir with a whisk until the sauce is nice and smooth. Season it to your taste with the fish sauce. It should have lots of punch and flavor as we will be adding some roasted eggplant and udon noodles to soak it all up.
The Eggplant. I recommend getting a large eggplant that you can get about 2 cups from diced into 1 cm cubes. Coat the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 350C. Set that aside until needed.
The Udon Noodles. Cook it according to package directions. Keep a cup of the cooked udon water and once done rinse and leave the noodles in cold water.
The Garlic Shrimp. For the shrimp season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat up some olive oil and add in minced garlic. Fry for a minute until fragrant and add in the shrimp. Stir fry until the skin turns pink and no longer translucent. It will be a quick fry for about 5 minutes. Add some chopped chives to finish.
The Bok Choy. With bok choy, I like to leave it on the crunchy side. Prepare the bok choy by cutting it in half and rinsing out any dirt in the crevices. To cook place the bok choy in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Now heat up a large skillet and place the seasoned bok choy in cut side down. Leave to cook for no more than 2 minutes and the flip.
Now it’s time to put together the Seafood Kare Kare with Udon Noodles.
Turn the heat back on the sauce and add in roasted eggplant. Sir and add in the udon noodles. If the sauce is too thick add in some of the reserved udon water until the sauce loosens up. Add in a quarter cup at a time. Now taste the noodles with the sauce and season with Fish sauce if needed.
To plate put the noodles on a plate and top with the shrimp and bok choy. Then serve with some bagoong on the side and garnish with more fresh chives.
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