What Is Pares?

Rebecca Cartwright

Pares, often called beef pares, is a braised beef dish that originated in the Philippines. It is particularly associated there with small neighborhood restaurants, called carenderias, which specialize in economical meals for local residents. Very tender beef and a sweet seasoned sauce are the distinguishing characteristics of this dish. The name means "pairs" and comes from the usual practice of serving it with garlic fried rice and a light beef broth soup. "Pares" is pronounced "pah-res."

Pares is often flavored with star anise.
Pares is often flavored with star anise.

Cuts of beef often recommended for pares include brisket, chuck and shanks. The texture of the finished meat should be tender and slightly sticky, so cuts that include ligaments or cartilage are usually best. Some recipes call for cooking an entire roast, while others start with cubed meat. Either type of meat is browned before it is further cooked.

Orange peel is sometimes included in pares.
Orange peel is sometimes included in pares.

To achieve the very tender meat typical of pares, the beef must be cooked until very well done. A heavy pot can be used to slowly simmer it on a stove top, or it can be placed in a slow cooker. Some recipes recommend a pressure cooker to shorten the cooking time.

The meat is slowly cooked in water or beef broth along with a variety of seasonings. These may include star anise, garlic and onion, often green or spring onions. Bay, ginger and soy sauce are also included. Rice wine, pepper and cinnamon are other common ingredients. Brown sugar and sesame oil are used to finish the sauce after cooking

There are many variations of the dish. The sauce served in restaurants in the Philippines is often thin, but many recipes thicken the sauce with cornstarch. Dried orange peel is sometimes included in the seasonings as well. Anise powder can be used in place of the star anise and lemon juice can replace the wine vinegar. Vegetables such as carrots and bok choy may be added.

Pares is typically served with garlic fried rice and a bowl of beef broth soup. It is usually a simple fried rice made by stir frying rice and a generous amount of garlic. The soup may include broth from the initial cooking of the meat before the sauce ingredients are added. Additional garlic, ginger and onion may be added to deepen the flavor of the soup.

A garnish of chopped green onion is often added to the dish before serving. Steamed rice is sometimes served instead of fried rice, depending on personal preference. Some Filipino restaurants also offer the option of noodles instead of rice as an accompaniment to this dish.

Spring onions are sometimes used in pares.
Spring onions are sometimes used in pares.

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